Have you ever had one of those nights, or weeks for that matter, where you just can’t seem to get remotely decent sleep? For some people it might be entirely random, happening now and again (but no less frustrating), while for others, it may be more of a regular occurrence (this doesn’t include those diagnosed with chronic insomnia). Either way, sleep deprivation of any kind can have serious consequences for your health.
So what can you do about it? Not everyone is comfortable with taking pills or other over the counter remedies to help find sleep, so what if you could improve your sleep by using the one thing that tends to keep you awake at night? Your brain!
“Mindfulness Meditation is a western, non-sectarian, research-based form of meditation derived from a 2,500 year old Buddhist practice called Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.” [Source: Meditation Science]
As TIME magazine outlines in its February article about the same topic, individuals who have trouble sleeping tend to worry about it right as they head to bed, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lack of sleep can lead to ailments such as depression, mood disturbances and overall reduced quality of life. Practicing mindfulness meditation and being aware of one’s thoughts, while lessening anxiety and helping people to relax might be one way to improve the quality of sleep – or at least make us think we are getting better rest at night anyways!
Six Steps To Mindfulness Meditation
- Find a quiet, comfortable place; sit straight but not stiff
- Be present – put aside all thoughts of the past and future
- Pay attention to your breathing, focusing on the sensation and movements
- Watch every thought come and go, positive or negative; note them, don’t ignore them
- Lost in your thoughts? Observe where your mind went and return to your breathing
- As your meditation comes to a close, sit for a moment, be aware, and get up gradually
[Source: About Health]
Of course, as with any type of meditation, ongoing practice can make this exercise more valuable and connect you with your thoughts on a daily basis. Dedicating 10 minutes a day (preferably as you make your way to bed) can potentially reduce thoughts of anxiety and stress that keep you up at night, and help you achieve that much-needed sleep you've been missing out on.
Learn more about mindfulness meditation and advanced techniques at our upcoming course - The Art & Science of Mindfulness.