5 Ways Mindfulness Affects Your Sleep
Did you know that mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing our awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting all feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations?
By calming your body and mind, mindfulness techniques can also be used to improve your sleep habits and overall sleep hygiene. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation for sleep or mindfulness for sleep, seek to reduce stress and enhance our physical, psychological and social well-being. By being mindful and adding tailored practices into your daily routine, you
can establish a wellness loop to get better sleep and promote a more balanced lifestyle.
If you're interested in how mindfulness meditations for sleep can affect different components of your life, check out these benefits of mindfulness:
5 Ways Mindfulness Can Improve Your Sleep
1. Mindfulness Can Reduce Stress
With our over-scheduled days and endless to-do lists, it seems nearly impossible to avoid the stress that comes with working hard. In Mattress Firm's "Dozed and Confused" study, we found a direct relationship between stress and sleep. In fact, people who are stressed tend to get five hours or fewer of sleep each night and are five times more likely to experience insomnia at least once a month.
By consciously being mindful, we have the ability to step back from a stressful situation and observe our thoughts and emotions more clearly. Instead of reacting with frustration or worry, we can accept how the situation makes us feel and respond with clarity, ultimately lowering our stress levels.
2. Mindfulness Can Help Decrease Sleeplessness
Unfortunately, for most of us, it's inevitable that we will experience sleeplessness at some point in our lives. Particularly for those who struggle with falling asleep at night, bed time comes hand in hand with sleeplessness. And, when we are greeted by sleeplessness frequently, we tend to enter a relentless cycle: we can't sleep, so we worry about not being able to sleep, which in turn keeps us from sleeping, and so on and so forth…
So, if you struggle with getting the sleep your body needs, consider a new approach to your bedtime routine: mindfulness and sleep meditation. Both practicing mindfulness and meditation have been proven to be effective tools for putting an end to the never-ending cycle of not being able to sleep and then worrying about the sleep you're not getting (which in turn keeps you up, yikes!). Guided sleep meditation for insomnia can be a natural alternative to other sleep-inducing drugs or practices.
So, before jumping into bed at night, try practicing mindfulness and meditation for sleep to keep from getting restless and sending yourself into a spiral of overwhelming thoughts. Instead of wreaking havoc on your sleep, seek to control your emotions and keep your thoughts at bay by putting into practice a few relaxation techniques for sleep every night.
3. Mindfulness Can Improve Work Focus and Increase Your Ability to Relax
Beyond letting stress consume us during the day, it's also a challenge to leave our work-related stress at the office. Here's where mindfulness comes in, yet again. Researchers have found that practicing daytime mindfulness and performing intermittent mindfulness exercising can help increase our ability to detach ourselves from work at the end of the day, thus allowing us to relax during the evening and ultimately allowing for sleep improvements.
So, if you're looking to leave the office at the office, consider adding a few mindfulness exercises to your mid-day routine. Because, nothing goes better with lunch than a little mindful meditation!
4. Mindfulness Helps Lower Cortisol Levels
In add addition to reducing overall stress, recent studies have identified links between mindfulness practices and changes in cortisol levels, which in turn have helped improve sleep quality. Cortisol is a hormone that stimulates alertness and is important to the regulation of the body's 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. So, managing our cortisol levels allows us to maintain our body's natural cycle and get the proper sleep we need to function at our best every day.
5. Mindfulness Can Be Used to Treat Sleep Disorders
Before treating sleep disorders with medications, which can cause a slew of unpleasant side effects, first try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Several sleep studies have shown that mindfulness-based treatments can lead to significant sleep gains, including reductions in total wake times. In addition to reducing insomnia, mindfulness can improve sleep quality, increase sleep times and cause better sleep efficiency.
Wondering how you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine? An easy way is by introducing a nightly mindful bedtime routine. Conclude your routine with quick meditation to align your thoughts, emotions and intentions and you will find that you're less likely to be surprised by unpredictable thoughts before bed. Whether you choose meditation or just decide to consciously not to let your emotions control your reactions, the positive impact mindfulness will have on your well-being will be well worth the effort.
Ways To Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Bedtime Routine
Meditation apps provide teachers who guide you through each meditation, step by step. Especially when you're a beginner, a guide can help direct your attention away from distractions and help you center on your body and emotons.
While exercise isn't a great idea right before bed, a light yoga stretch can be a great way to wind down at night. Yoga promotes relaxation—and relaxation, in turn, can improve sleep. A 2012 survey from the National Institutes of Health found that 55% of yoga practitioners report better sleep and 85% report reduced stress.
If you're looking for a specific type of yoga designed to facilitate sleep try out yoga nidra, or “yogic sleep,” a form of guided meditation that induces a deep state of tranquility. Rather than moving into a series of poses, you lie on your mat with your eyes closed for the entire 30- to 45-minute session. The teacher uses techniques like body scanning, breath awareness, and tuning into your five senses to help you enter a place of semi-consciousness in between sleeping and waking.
It’s not always easy to keep your spirits up during a challenging time, but a study in Behavioral Medicine suggests that having an upbeat attitude can lead to longer and more restful sleep. “Optimists are more apt to think about stressful situations with a positive, hopeful mindset—which translates to fewer of the ruminating, negative thoughts that interfere with our ability to sleep,” Breus says.
You’re probably familiar with mood-boosters like exercise, a healthy diet, hanging with friends, and meditation. But here’s a suggestion from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley that you might not have heard of: Before bed, jot down three good things that happened to you that day, and how you contributed to each. This practice has been scientifically proven to help you harness a sunnier outlook after just one week.
Oh, and while you’re at it, try an adult coloring book or page. A study from researchers at the University of the West of England revealed that, embracing your inner cild and picking up a coloring pencil could be beneficial for your mental health by improving your mood, reducing stress and boosting creativity. Don't know where to start? We've got you covered with Mattress Firm's new downloadable adult coloring pages.