Sleep Disorders
4 Case Studies
12 Member Stories
5 Research

What is meditation for sleep disorders?

Meditation trains us to be in our minds and more conscious of the present moment. The brain's tendency to get caught up in mind is perhaps strongest at bedtime when we suddenly stop and remain still. Meditation for sleep is a guided experience. It delivers a natural sleep aid on its own, allowing us to give up the day's events. We could then rest our mind and relax the body. Scientifically, meditation aids lower the heart rate by encouraging slower breathing and increasing the prospect of an excellent night's sleep. Our parasympathetic nervous system controls much of that. While undergoing a sleep-based guided meditation, you might find new tools and techniques to help relax the body and mind and give up the day, easing into restfulness.

See: Ashwagandha for sleep before bed

Causes of sleep disorders

Causes of Sleep disorders & Insomnia

There are various causes of sleeplessness. They can be a medical condition, emotional problems, stress, and anxiety, or just lifestyle.

- Mental health: Psychological issues, such as depression, are common causes of sleeplessness. Depression contributes to changes in disposition, which may affect hormone balance, and for that reason, cause difficulty sleeping. Studies also have shown that insomnia can worsen depression.

- Anxiety & Stress: Stress and anxiety are other common causes of sleeplessness. We often agonize about the past and worry about future events. At times, we may feel stressed out and overwhelmed by our duties. And sometimes, it's just our overstimulated mind that's keeping us awake.

- Diet: Food and diet may also affect your sleep. A heavy meal or empty stomach can make it hard to sleep. It's a good idea to have a light snack before bed, which is low in sugar, as a lot of sugar in your blood may provide you a sense of anxiety.

- Alcohol: While it can help you fall asleep, alcohol will really disrupt your sleep later in the evening. Too much caffeine, or ingesting it too late, can also make it tough to sleep. Nicotine is another material that could disrupt your sleep.

- Lifestyle habits: For many people, lifestyle could be a cause of insomnia. Some people today work odd hours, making it tough to maintain a regular sleep pattern or get enough sleep. At times, they do not have sufficient time to unwind before they go to bed.

- Medical conditions: Health conditions may include allergies, stomach, intestinal problems, chronic pain, lower back pain, breathing difficulties, etc. In case you have one of those issues or suspect another medical condition might be keeping you awake, I suggest consulting with your doctor.

See: Sleeping on the left side health benefits

How Meditation Can Help Sleep

Can meditation help sleep & insomnia?

Although insomnia can have many causes, the great thing is that meditation can help in a variety of ways. The primary way that meditation can help you sleep better is by reducing tension and anxiety. How it works is relatively simple. Meditation helps calm your brain as you lower the feelings associated with these thoughts.

Meditation can calm nearly any racing mind. However, it would help decrease a few of the things that are overstimulating your head, like too many actions and excess background noise. Fundamentally, any sensory stimulation will make a chain of ideas, and if your day is full of activities and sounds, then your mind has been overstimulated. For the most part, meditation is a break from sensory stimulation. While the guided meditations for sleep have a voice to guide you, the noises are soothing and slow, helping slow down your mind.

Meditation is a powerful antidote for depression. Studies have shown that if done correctly, it can be equally as effective as antidepressant drugs. If you suffer from depression and need to try meditation instead of therapy, make sure you talk with your physician first.

Meditation may even help address some of the physical causes of sleeplessness. Studies have shown that meditation can ease physical pain, particularly lower back pain.

See: Acupuncture for sleep disorders

Sleep deprivation

Sleep is crucial to our health to detox our mind and body. Yet, as a society, we do not always treat it this way. Research shows that Americans lack proper sleep. The majority of adults work better when they sleep 7-9 hours a night, but over 40 percent of Americans sleep fewer than 7 hours every day, based on a new Gallup poll. 30% of individuals report difficulty falling and staying asleep at least a couple of times per month; 6 percent experience sleeplessness on a near-nightly basis. This issue has birthed an entire sector. Global Sleep Aids Market size is valued at USD 60 Billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 95B by 2025. Some folks feel pride or endurance in their ability to work well without sleep. Recently, sleep has emerged in research and culture as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

See: Ayurveda herbs & treatment for sleep

Why do people stay up at night?

Nearly half of us are sleep deprived --but not because we do not need to sleep. Sometimes we simply can not fall asleep or remain asleep because of a range of biological forces and lifestyle options. Technology has also worsened sleep problems: 90 percent of Americans use technology throughout the hour before bed (this includes using cell phones, playing video games, watching television, using computers, and much more ). Many of us even sleep with mobile phones beneath our pillows or alongside our faces with the ringer on. Mindless monitoring and technology usage is negatively related to good sleep: one study showed that the more gizmos someone uses in a given day, the more difficulty they've fallen and stay asleep. These effects were observed mostly in people highly engaged with their apparatus through the day and night.

See: Yoga for sleep disorders

Sleep meditation health benefits

Regularly sleeping fewer than seven hours each night increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and unhealthy eating habits, resulting in additional chronic illnesses. Sleep deprivation can impair decision-making, mood, focus, short and long term memory, and response time.

- Individuals who are sleep deprived tend to earn more mistakes at work and push more dangerously on the street.

- Increased and better sleep can similarly lower levels of anxiety and enhance mental clarity and memory. Increased sleep also affects our immune systems, promotes better eating habits and weight control.

- Better sleep has been linked to reducing the chance of Alzheimer's disease. Studies regularly link enhanced sleep by providing a greater sense of health.

Sleep plays an essential role in keeping a healthy body and mind. According to the U.S. DHHS (Department of Health & Human Services), sufficient sleep provides many benefits:

- Boosted immunity

- Decreased risk for developing mental health ailments

- Better ability to manage your weight

- Reduced stress

- Improved mood

- Lowered risk for serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes

- Improved cognitive skills

- Increased ability to make good decisions and prevent injuries

See: Melatonin Rich Foods That Help You Sleep

Deep sleep meditation types

Particularly when you have insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, meditation was shown to enhance the quality and efficacy of sleep, how fast you fall asleep, and how long you can remain awake during the day. Completing a meditation for sleep can help you to fall asleep quicker; once asleep, you are most likely to sleep more soundly, too.

- Mindfulness meditation: What is mindfulness meditation? It is a popular meditation method that requires that you pay close attention to your experience and your surroundings. Although this technique sounds almost basic, putting it into practice makes all the difference. For starters, you may focus on your breath while inhaling and exhaling. It is normal to let distractions arise and pass by. You may then try practicing with other meditation aids like sensations. You can notice tensions and discharge them.

Your awareness of what's happening inside of you can increase with mindfulness meditation. You also become more skillful at letting distractions and burnout flow by without ruffling your calm. The best source of our happiness, serenity, and genuine well-being is within the self. By learning how to deal effectively with agitation and distraction, you have every chance of revealing and making great use of the meditation.

- Affirmation meditation

This meditation has some of the very same features as mindfulness in that it requires one-pointed attention. Rather than focusing on the breath, we're replacing whatever distractions keep us awake Pick an affirmation that has significance for you. Rather than an affirmation, you could use a mantra out of your particular faith tradition. Psychologists believe that thoughts racing through our minds as we fall asleep and our subconscious are tightly coupled. Positive affirmations can help us fall asleep and calm our brains.

- Guided meditation for sleep

Sometimes listening to a meditation teacher's voice is what you need precisely to assist you in falling asleep. In guided meditations for sleep, teachers guide you during the meditation session. They might ask you to relax your toes, inhale deeply, or even your legs. They might also lead one to imagine a series of relaxing images.

- Meditation for quality sleep 

Quality sleep may require far more than performing a simple meditation session in bed. Restful sleep largely depends on with a relaxed mind, and thus the preparation can start with your mindset during the day. More often than not, our difficulties around sleep are rooted in our thinking processes. By gradually training the mind in a particular way, day by day, you slowly create an environment conducive to a good night's rest for a month. Meditation trains the brain for the long term, sustainable change; the only meditation is a particular exercise to send you to sleep.

What happens when meditating for asleep

Meditation for sleep ought to be approached the same way we approach meditation daily, softly, with relaxed attention. When the body relaxes and the mind drifts off, we induce sleep gently.  Let yourself be led by the meditation, not overthinking about the procedure or directions.

Before beginning your sleep: lie flat on your back on the bed, take a few deep breaths, and shut your eyes, allowing the body to start powering down. If you are using a guided meditation, then follow the directions, and go at your own pace. You are to create a calm and quiet mind that can sleep at ease with practice.

Guided sleep meditations generally employ several different methods.

- Breathing exercises: This entails regulating your breath by counting breaths, for example. You can slow down your breathing a bit as you begin this exercise. This is a signal for the body to sleep and rest.

- Visualizations: A visualization asks you to envision a picture or scene, then it takes you into a mental condition similar to hypnosis.

- Mindful body scanning: When you lie on your bed, you need to be conscious of the breath and areas where your body is touching your mattress. Then, beginning at the feet, you can consider "switching off" any attempt in every part of your body, one at a time.

- Silence: A narrator or manual may ask you to lie peacefully in silence for up to a couple of minutes, providing very little advice as a means to focus after a long and busy day.

- Movement-based meditation: If you are being directed through a sleep-based meditation in person, you might be invited to take part in mindful movement practices like tai chi, low-impact postures, or mild stretching.

- Counting: To slow down the mind and release you from cyclical patterns of thought, you could be encouraged to count slowly: beginning at ten and counting backward to one, then starting at ten again.

- Gratitude: Some sleep-focused meditation programs focus on gratitude. This type of meditation involves a focus on being aware of loving, kindness, and need you to concentrate on gratitude.

- Retracing your day: Assessing your daily life, in detail, action-by-action, can be a fantastic way to divert your brain just enough to drift off. Beginning from getting up in the morning, through showering and having breakfast, spend 30 seconds on each day's events, however modest. This action is a great way to start powering down before breathing or visualization meditation.

-A simple meditation to help you sleep: If you are awake in the night, racing thoughts can lead to keeping you awake. Your mind is racing and worrying about many things that may happen. A simple act of counting your breaths can help calm your mind.

See: Melatonin Rich Foods That Help You Sleep

Sleep health discipline

There's not any one-off solution for great sleep. Meditation is one of many tools but sleep hygiene, or practices conducive to sleeping well regularly. Good sleep hygiene includes the following:

- Sleeping Routine: Go to sleep and wake up around the same time daily. This cycle can help develop and encourage strong circadian rhythms; balancing tells the body when to remain awake and when to get tired. A consistent routine can be challenging for men and women who travel, work odd hours, or have jet lag often. Studies demonstrate that light cues can help moderate sleep-wake cycles.

- Sleep Environment: A cozy bedroom installation is requisite for sleep hygiene. Research demonstrates that darkness is essential to melatonin release, and cooler temperatures encourage better sleep; minimizing sound disturbances both in and outside of the house also helps maximize sleep quality.

- Healthy Diet: Certain foods in your diet can prevent you from sleeping. A healthy diet with the right portions has been demonstrated to lead to better sleep habits.

- Manage Anxiety and Stress: The 2015 Sleep in American Poll revealed that pain and stress were just two of the most significant factors affecting sleep. Missing sleep also exacerbates tension and pain, which may be a hard cycle to break. Developing healthy strategies for handling stress and pain during the day can improve sleep at night.

- Exercise: Regular participation in physical activity, such as things like swimming, weight training, yoga, long walks, jogging, or gym may have a lasting impact on your quality of sleep.

- Bedtime Preparation: Set yourself up for success throughout the hours before bedtime. Try placing away technology at least an hour before you intend to sleep. When you get into bed, then direct yourself through the exercises you might have learned through a sleep meditation practice (or if you will need the advice, at least put your phone or device face-down to conceal the bright display ). 

- Clothing: Choose sleepwear that could help regulate body temperature while remaining comfortable. Allow yourself to wind down, find silent, and process daily. For some individuals, journaling before bed may be a productive way to bring the mind back to the present.

See: Yoga, meditation, and imagery: clinical applications.

Summary

Using meditation as a tool for deeper, longer sleep may be an invaluable tool for those with sleep issues. Attempting to meditate and get quiet before you try to sleep is an essential first step. Being comfortable with and practicing the meditation techniques and breath work will occur over time. Most Americans do not sleep enough, and this may cause quite severe physical and mental health issues. Meditation may help.

See: Kirtan Kriya Meditation For Mental Health Benefits

References

1. American Sleep Association. Sleep and sleep disorder statistics.

2. Coppieters, I., Cagnie, B., Nijs, J., Van Oosterwijck, J., Danneels, L., De Pauw, R., … Meeus, M. (2016, April 6). Effects of stress and relaxation on central pain modulation in chronic whiplash and fibromyalgia patients compared to healthy controls [Abstract]. Pain Physician, 19(3), 119–130 https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/7161849

3. Loving-kindness meditation. (n.d.) https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation#data-tab-how

4. Mindful breathing. (n.d.) https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing

5. Park, J., Lyles, R. H., & Bauer-Wu, S. (2014, July 1). Mindfulness meditation lowers muscle sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in African-American males with chronic kidney disease [Abstract]. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 307(1), R93–R101 http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/307/1/R93

6. Sipe, W. E., & Eisendrath, S. J. (2012, February). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: Theory and practice [Abstract].Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(2), 63–69 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22340145

7. Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015; Apr;175(4):494–501. DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081

8. Neuendorf R, Wahbeh H, Chamine I, Yu J, Hutchison K, Oken BS. The effects of mind-body interventions on sleep quality: A systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015. DOI:10.1155/2015/902708

9. UCLA Semel Institute, Mindful Awareness Research Center. Body scan for sleep.

10. Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2012, July–August). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 198–208 http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/pst-48-2-198.pdf

11. Kearney, D. J., Malte, C. A., Mcmanus, C., Martinez, M. E., Felleman, B., & Simpson, T. L. (2013, July 25). Loving-kindness meditation for posttraumatic stress disorder: A pilot study. [Abstract]. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(4), 426–434

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jts.21832/full

12. Kundalini yoga. (n.d.) https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/kundalini

13. Lechner, T. (n.d.). 5 types of meditation decoded http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-types-of-meditation-decoded#sm.0005syqxv1brdd4p11k27d0qakfj7

14. Lo, P.-C., Huang, M.-L., & Chang, K.-M. (2003). EEG alpha blocking correlated with perception of inner light during Zen meditation [Abstract]. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 31(4), 629 http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X03001272

See: Yoga Nidra and Meditation benefits for cancer patients

Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email