I recently wrote about mindful mornings and when I did, I mentioned that a big part of having a nice, mindful morning can be attributed to a good evening and a full night of sleep.
How can mindfulness help you to better sleep?
Mindful living can lead to better sleep and overall health. Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, two common sleep disruptors. So if you are having trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, problems with energy levels (which might be a result of poor sleep) mindfulness might help.
Not getting enough sleep is a big problem and often leads to poor overall health or even disease. When we are feeling tired or not rested enough we tend to eat and drink more to “get energized”, which can lead to unhealthy eating and drinking habits. With lack of sleep, we might also be too tired to work out or get moving, making it even harder to live healthily.
Oftentimes when I have trouble sleeping, it’s because things are running through my mind. Sometimes because I’m stressed, others because I worked too late in the evening with something requiring a lot of mental capacity. Mindfulness can teach you to handle these thoughts popping up. Help you to not give them space or value. To just acknowledge and let go, making it easier to sleep.
My favorite ways to use meditation and mindfulness to help sleep is by doing a body scan meditation or a short sleep meditation before trying to fall asleep. So it’s not the classical sitting-with-legs-crossed-on-the-floor meditation but instead done laying in bed ready for sleep. I use mainly the app Buddhify for this, but the links above will take you to great versions of it on YouTube.
I rarely fall asleep during these meditations, even though it has happened, but they allow me to clear my head and stress down enough for my body to feel relaxed and sleepy. When I use these meditation techniques for sleep, I usually fall asleep within a few minutes.
What else can you do to improve sleep?
Some other tips to help you to better sleep in addition to meditation.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening (or all together…) since they might make you energized instead of sleepy, thus interfering with your sleep.
- Avoid eating to close to bedtime. When you eat too close to bedtime the digestion might keep you awake.
- Avoid tech or working or working out right before bed, since this keeps the mind & body stressed from all the impression.
- Even though working out late at night might screw a bit with your sleeping pattern, some light stretch or yoga can be beneficial since it calms you down and gets you breathing deeper. My favorite resources for free yoga is YouTube and especially Yoga with Adriene. She even has a special playlist with yoga for bedtime.
- A warm shower or bath can help with sleep. In the evening when the body gets ready for sleep it increases the temperature and this is part of what makes us sleepy. So by taking a shower and increasing the body temp slightly, we can fool the body it’s sleep time. However, make sure there is enough time after the shower for the body to cool down before bed!
- Get more sunlight during the day. Sunlight exposure and sleep are connected so leaving your office for a quick walk during lunch hour might be a good idea if you want to improve sleep.