What is Sleep Meditation?
Sleep meditation is a proven method to help you relax your mind, body and soul. It is performed while sleeping. Another term used to describe sleep meditation is yoga nidra, which translates to a total body rejuvenation.
It requires practice and dedication to allow for your body to become fully relaxed. Sleep meditation will ensure a deeper nights sleep as your mind heals from the physical stress of the day.
Why Sleep Meditation Works
In 2015, Harvard Medical School released a studying showing the mind-altering change that occurs during sleep meditation. The study focused primarily on how breathing and awareness can be a powerful tool to aid in changing sleep patterns.
After six weeks, the group that experienced the meditation program showed fewer signs of insomnia, fatigue and depression. The study concluded that “mindfulness meditation appears to have a role in addressing the prevalent burden of sleep problems among older adults.”
The findings of Dr. Herbert Benso indicate that “the relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress.”
How Sleep Meditation Works
1. Meditation enhances brain wave functions
If you’re one to toss and turn at night, your brain waves are working in overtime. Beta brain waves are present when we are engaged in mental activity such as decision-making, attentiveness, and even when we are uneasy, anxious, or depressed.
This negative feedback loop is what’s causing you have a night full of tossing and turning. Meditation enhances the brain functions that work with your body to help guide your body into a deep sleep.
2. Meditation teaches us to focus on the present
Meditation is focused on the present moment. While meditating, the focus is on what is happening in the here and now.
When you have trouble sleeping and you hone in on your desire to sleep, you allow your body to become fully relaxed and therefore can ease physical sensations, tension and allow your mind to work in your favor.
3. Meditation enhances melatonin and the REM stage of sleep
REM sleep is a mix of alpha and theta waves, and high frequency beta waves typical during high-level concentration and thinking. When you experience REM sleep, you often experience intense dreams.
Studies suggest that those who practice sleep meditation have more “neuro-plasticity” (the ability to rewire and connect different parts of the brain).
How to Practice Sleep Meditation
1. Prepare your body for sleep
Any proper nighttime routine begins by preparing your body for sleep. Find a quiet area (hopefully your bedroom) and fully relax your body.
2. Recite a desire or resolution
Recite your desire for the practice. Examples include: “I will find restful sleep tonight” or, “I will fall into a peaceful sleep”.
Breathe slowly through your nostrils. Relax your sensory nerves as you breathe in and out. Increase your sensitivity to the environment around you and allow yourself to fall into a deep(er) sleep.
While practicing your breathing, visualize a calm setting. Relax and ease the tension felt lingering in your body.
Sleep meditation requires practice. When practiced religiously, you will find yourself falling into a deeper sleep and entering restorative sleep.
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