No matter how hard we try, sometimes the relaxation that’s needed for sleep simply eludes us. Too many thought on our minds, too many things left on our to-do lists, and suddenly we’re staring at the ceiling instead of getting the sleep we need to tackle all those things we need to do in the morning.
Meditative practices designed to calm the body and the mind can make a difference in getting to sleep. A short meditation when you’re winding down at the end of the day may make sleep easier to come by.
Here are a few techniques that might help:
- Deep Breathing/Abdominal Breathing: For this technique you can sit, stand, or lie on your back. The point is to take deep breaths through your nose, allowing your diaphragm and your belly to expand with each breath. Pay attention to the feeling of expansion on the in-breath and the contraction of the belly on the out-breath. Careful focus on the sensation of the breath can help quiet the mind.
- Writing:The act of writing out your thoughts can be a meditation in itself. Focusing on particular issues or problems and allowing yourself to let go through writing or just introspection can help you work through the things that tend to keep you up at night.
- Muscle Relaxation:Starting at the toes and working your way up through all the muscle groups of the body, clench and then relax each group in turn. Finish the sequence by clenching every muscle from the toes to the face and then relax every muscle at once. The ensuing relaxation can make it easier to drift off.
So Can Meditation Really Help You Sleep?
The Huffington Post writer Willoughby Britton suggests that the jury’s still out on whether meditation can actually improve sleep—there’s much research left to be done. But at 3 in the morning, even a placebo effect can be welcome.
In my personal experience, the relaxation induced by some meditation techniques has helped me get to sleep and stay asleep. When I’m uptight or upset, calming my mind before trying to sleep is invaluable. Can I call that scientific proof? No. Does it work for me? Yes.
Have you tried meditation to help you sleep? How did it work?