Meditation for sleep: Time to wake up and slow down

Bed with feet sticking out covers

Getting a good night’s sleep is something many people dream about. With so much going on in the world to keep us awake at night, it’s not surprising that more and more people are looking for ways to help them fall sleep, and stay asleep, for the hours they need.

When you add in the accumulation of daily stresses – workload, commuting, relationships, family life – the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep becomes commonly elusive. That’s where a regular meditation practice can help.

Using meditation to help you sleep is a powerful tool in helping you get the nourishment we all need from sleeping – not just psychologically, but at a cellular level too.

Sleep Repairs Your Body

The first part of your sleep cycle is crucial, as this is when the body repairs itself. If you go to bed with a full stomach, feeling over-stimulated, or turn in late, you are going to compromise this essential period when the body heals itself, which usually happens between 10pm and 2am.

Add in an early start and it’s no wonder so many of us are starting the day not feeling refreshed and energised, needing several espressos just to get us through the morning. The accumulative effect of late nights, disrupted sleep, and early mornings eventually takes its toll on the body and mind, leading to lack of focus, loss of perspective and perception, and ultimately longer-term health issues. 

Create The Calm

Do you have a bedtime ritual? For many of us, a bedtime routine is something that gets left behind in childhood. However, preparation for going to bed is important for setting you up properly for the horizontal hours ahead. It’s important to take some to time to yourself, and consciously break bad pre-sleeping habits:

  • Heading for bed too soon after eating and drinking means the digestive system will be working hard to process your recent intake of food at a time when everything should be slowing down and resting. Ideally, you should eat your evening meal at least 2-3 hours before going to bed.

  • The blue screen light from a TV, tablet, or smartphone plays havoc with our circadian rhythms of sleep and suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Take a break of at least 40 minutes, preferably longer, from technology before heading for the bedroom – without this break, the brain and body will prevent stimulating chemicals from subsiding.

  • Make sure that any caffeine intake is restricted to the morning. 50% of the caffeine ingested is still in your system 7 hours later, and remember that de-caffeinated drinks are not caffeine free. Typically they contain around 12 - 15% caffeine

  • Taking a long, calm moment to disengage from the day and prepare for sleep will give you a better chance of those eye-shut hours doing what they are supposed to do.

Meditation Helps You Wake Up Too

To go to bed weary and not exhausted, and to wake refreshed and not feeling heavy, are some of the many benefits meditation has on sleep.

The first meditation of the day gives the body and mind an opportunity to top up what has not been obtained during sleeping hours, which includes deep rest and the release of stress, and prepares you for the day ahead. During meditation, the body rests very deeply, up to 2 to 5 times deeper than sleep, and the mind processes stress which has not been dealt with in the dreaming part of your sleep cycle.

Your second meditation (after lunch and before dinner) deals with, amongst other things, the stresses accumulated since the morning meditation and sets you up to head for bed stress-free for the slumber you deserve.

Meditation to help you sleep will be covered in a series of upcoming blog posts.

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Anthony Thompson