Have you seen the meme about the early bird, the night owl and the permanently exhausted pigeon? No wonder it resonated with so many people. Almost three-quarters of Britons sleep less than seven hours a night and 12% get less than five hours shuteye. Mindfulness for sleep can help.
What’s stopping us from getting a good night’s rest? The top reasons are stress and worry (45%), our partners (25%) and noise (20%). And it’s not just drifting off. A third of people experience poor sleep most nights, so staying asleep is a challenge for many.
Little surprise then that we’re looking for solutions. 42,000 Google searches happen every month for phrases like ‘how to get to sleep’ or ‘how to fall asleep quickly’. One of the answers is mindfulness meditation for sleep. It makes sense: breathing slowly lowers the heart rate. Concentrating on our breath or our bodies calms racing thoughts.
Want to give it a try? We’ve got you covered.
Guided sleep meditation
Ever put your head on your pillow only to find that your brain goes into overdrive? You’re not alone. Mindfulness can help you to let go of the day – and everything that happened. A guided sleep meditation is a great way to learn these techniques and we have several for you to try. Just click on the link.
Improve your odds
Tired all the time – it even has its own acronym (TATT). Once someone reaches this stage, all kinds of unhelpful things happen. Over-relying on caffeine, eating unhealthily, no energy for exercise, stressing out of kids and work… It’s a vicious cycle and is unlikely to help anyone get back into a healthy sleep routine. So, what can you do to put the sleep odds in your favour?
1 – Switch off
Light is a powerful signal to the body to stay awake. Blue light from electronic devices suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and makes it harder to drift off. Give yourself an hour before bedtime to wind down and keep screens out of the bedroom.
2 – Alcohol doesn’t help
A quarter of us are turning to the bottle to try and get some sleep. There’s a gotcha. While booze can help us fall asleep, it has a terrible effect on sleep quality. It reduces rapid eye movement sleep – the sleep stage that contributes most to feeling rested. So ditch the alcohol (and coffee, obvs) and turn to a hot milky or herbal drink instead.
3 – Journaling to the rescue
Mindful journaling is a form of meditative writing. It helps you to understand your thinking habits so that you can take more control of what’s going on in your mind. And it’s a firm base for trying mindfulness for sleep.
You may also find it helpful to make a to-do list for the next day. Once you’ve committed thought to paper, you can relax safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to forget the cupcakes for the bake sale (or whatever it may be).
4 – Active body, peaceful mind
It can be hard to exercise when you’re already tired (or maybe stressed), but it is a natural sleep aid. In fact, even ten minutes of regular aerobic exercise can have a dramatic effect. What can you do to be more active?
5 – All about the habits
There’s nothing worse than being unable to sleep, while you think of your heavy schedule for the next day. But getting worked up is going to have the opposite effect. Build a calming bedtime routine, starting at around the same time every day. This will take time to take effect, so don’t expect immediate results.
Switch off. Journal. Relax. Meditate. Rinse and repeat. If it hasn’t worked on your first attempt, don’t give up. Start again from the beginning and then go back to bed for another attempt. Keep it up for a month and we’re confident you’ll notice the difference.
Are you new to mindfulness for sleep? A master of the practice? Let us know how you get to sleep in the comment below – we’d love to hear from you.
Still struggling to get into ‘zen’ mode before sleeping? Try out one of our free guided sleep meditations on our resources page.