One of the most commonly requested topics from the listeners of my Mindful in Minutes podcast is how to improve their sleep with meditation.
That’s not a huge surprise as, to be honest, I don’t know anyone who feels like they’re sleeping enough. More importantly, I don’t know anyone who sleeps well enough every single night and always wakes up refreshed and ready to roll.
What’s more common is waking up to an alarm that just feels too early, after not getting enough sleep. More often than not, we’re also waking up at least once during the night with thoughts racing through our minds.
As a society, we are deeply rest deprived.
We live in a ‘do more, have more, achieve more’ world. Often sleep can fall pretty low on the priority list, or our busy lives make sleep a nightmare.
Even if you’re not getting as many ZZZs as you’d like, you can improve your sleep quality.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, adding just 10 minutes of meditation into your daily routine can not only help you fall asleep faster but also help you sleep better.
Here’s what meditation does and why it helps you sleep better:
Quiets the chatter in the mind
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with your mind racing? It happens to all of us. Luckily there’s a way to quell those racing thoughts.
Meditation has been proven to quiet this mental chatter, allowing you to relax and let go of those nagging thoughts.
Not only will this will help you quiet them down in the moment, but also reduce the chatter during the day and increase your focus.
Changes you on a neurological level
Meditation not only makes you feel better, but it changes you on a neurological level.
Studies by Sara Lazar of Harvard University show that after 8-12 weeks of daily meditation your amygdala (the fear and pain center of your brain) decreases in size and the hippocampus (the learning and memory center) increases.
This means you neurologically adapt to have more mental clarity and less anxiety and fear with a regular meditation practice.
decreases stress and relaxes your body
Meditation not only changes your mind and how you react to stressors, but it physically changes you as well.
Meditation has been shown to:
- Decrease the level of stress hormones released in your body.
- Lower your blood pressure.
- Increase your circulation.
- Reduce physical pain and inflammation.
- Improve your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
These positive changes make sleeping easier.
teaches your body and mind to relax
Perhaps one of the fastest ways to improve your sleep is to use a guided meditation practice to train your mind and body to relax and welcome sleep.
Many people use a guided sleep meditation to calm down their busy minds or relax their bodies before bed.
So, listening to a meditation that is specially designed to help you fall asleep will train you to fall asleep faster and will also give you a tool when late-night insomnia hits.
HOW TO SET UP A DAILY MEDITATION PRACTICE
Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can get started easily with these simple steps.
- Make a resolution. Decide that you want to start a meditation practice and commit yourself to it.
- Do it your way. Find a comfortable meditation position. You can do your meditation practice seated, in a chair, lying down – anything that feels good to you!
- Start small. Spend a few minutes a day doing guided breathing exercises with Polar Serene™.
- Make time for yourself. Begin with 10-15 minutes of quiet time, listening to guided meditations, or just observing your breathing. (I recommend the first 10 minutes or the last 10 minutes of your day so you don’t forget.)
- Make it simple. Set a timer and when your time is up, you’re done. Then you don’t think about it for the rest of the day.
- Forget criticism. There is no good or bad meditation. If you did the practice, then the body will do the rest.
- Repeat. Do it again the next day.
- Follow up. Commit to your meditation practice for at least two weeks and then check-in and adjust if needed.
Meditation doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t need to sit criss-cross applesauce while meditating for an hour, or even chant OHMMMMM while you do it. It’s a very simple and incredible practice that can transform you mentally, physically, and emotionally.
All you have to do is decide that you’re going to give meditation a try and let your body do the rest.
If you’re looking for mediations that are sleep specific you can find some on my podcast Mindful in Minutes or you can check out the meditations for sleep album on iTunes.
You can also take this free 7-day meditation challenge to get you started on your first week.
Make sure you follow Polar on Instagram and stay tuned for some Insta Stories with practical breathing techniques that will help you calm down your mind and body.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.