Struggling to sleep can affect everything from our ability to focus to our mood. With over 70% of adults in the United Kingdom not receiving the recommended amount of sleep, we are looking for new techniques to lull us into a deeper, better restfulness. From new linen bedding to aromatherapy and meditation, the focus is on finding ways to better our sleep as soon as possible.
But did you know meditation can help with this? Not only can meditation support a wakeful restfulness, but an asleep one too. 15% of adults already practice meditation techniques.
Read on to find out how the different types of meditation you can start practising and how this can help you get better sleep at night.
Benefits of meditation and sleep
Meditation relaxes the mind and body into a space of calm and safety. This can help you fall asleep not only faster but deeper and for longer.
By practising meditation, you can reduce your likelihood of suffering from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety – both of which negatively impact your sleeping. Racing thoughts, a symptom of anxiety, can be reduced through mindfulness techniques.
Meditation also has medical benefits as it can help reduce chronic pain, which could keep you awake at night. As well as reducing blood pressure and heart rate, resulting in a gentler transition into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – so there is no more jolting awake as if you are falling!
Different types of meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a form of mental training which can be developed throughout the day during your normal activities. By analysing your feelings, you can better understand your emotional responses and manage your racing thoughts.
Spend some time getting comfortable and focusing on your mindset. Assess your current situations and emotional responses without judgement.
Understand which thoughts might be intrusive or unhelpful to your daily life. Accepting each thought and response is a part of being mindful – try not to suppress or reject them during this time.
Once mastered, you can notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations during your daily routine, for example, while washing the dishes and doing laundry.
If you find yourself anxious or caught on a thought, try imagining them as a river which flows past you. Or take a break and focus on your breathing. Practice makes perfect when it comes to meditation.
If you struggle to maintain your thoughts, you can use a concentration meditation to unwind. Focusing on a singular object allows your body and mind to relax without the intrusion of racing thoughts.
You can concentrate on anything from sounds, such as your breath, to the imagery of a flickering candle. If textures calm you, the repetition of stroking a pet or a piece of fabric can result in a meditative state.
Equally, you can focus on one phrase which you repeat either in your mind or aloud. This can be phrases such as “I am calm”. This concentration meditation is useful if you want to practice manifestation and affirmations within your life.
Guided meditation is when someone voices a route for you to follow in your mind. These can be specialised in spiritual meditation or mindfulness and can be particularly useful if you struggle to maintain focus during meditation.
Focusing on someone else’s voice can help drown out thoughts which take you away from the meditation, as well as bring closer focus on your breathing techniques and timing.
Make yourself comfortable, whether you prefer sitting or lying down, and listen to guided meditation audio. This will often take you through breathing exercises first to get you relaxed.
If you find yourself moving away from the guided meditation and into your own deepened state of thought, allow yourself to lean into this.
Progressive meditation – body scan and breathing awareness
Unlike other meditation techniques focused on mindfulness, progressive meditation focuses on your body. By concentrating on each element, from your toes to your hair, you relax each body part to release tension from your muscles and joints.
You can also try breathing awareness as a meditation technique. The timing of your breathing can add a calming effect to your meditation and focusing on the number and depth of your breathing will distract you from your thoughts.
Stress can contribute significantly to restlessness. Learning meditation techniques can reduce your stress levels and make dropping off easier. Whether you practice during the day to reduce stress and racing thoughts or use mindful techniques before bed, you can get a better night’s rest.