How Meditation Can Help You Sleep Better

An expert explains how a mindful meditation practice can be a powerful way to improve your sleep habits

Especially if you find  it’s the rambling voice in your head that keeps you up past your bedtime at night, meditation may be just the thing you need to start falling asleep more easily and getting more quality sleep.

One study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that a mindful mediation practice can help to fight insomnia and improve overall sleep quality.

“Many times it’s anxiety, worry or regret that causes overthinking and tension in the body that keeps us from being able to fall asleep,” said  Dina Proctor, a Mind-Body Coach and creator of the 3x3 Meditation Method. “Meditation is the most powerful antidote I know of to reduce stress and quiet the ‘voice’ in our heads.”

If you’re thinking something like, “But I don’t have time for meditation” or “Meditation is for yoga-practicing hippies,” well, quite frankly, you’re wrong.

Meditating doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time and it definitely doesn’t have to take place seated in a cross-legged position with your hands resting on your knees while chanting “ohm.”

In fact the meditation practice that Proctor recommends is much simpler than you probably think.

“Even just three minutes, three times a day can have a profound impact on our ability to relax and sleep well,” she said. “These short bursts of meditation train our minds to consistently to focus where we want them to rather than letting our thoughts run rampant and overwhelm us.”

Proctor said you may start to see your sleeping habits improve after seven days of practicing these short meditation bursts, especially if you include them as part of your nighttime routine.

“I always advise people to follow what feels right for them in terms of meditation,” Proctor suggested. “It’s a deeply individual experience and could be very different for every person.”

That said, she does highly recommend working your way up to incorporating at least three, three-minute sessions throughout your day on a daily basis.

Not sure where to start?

Proctor said that you can begin my simply relaxing and focusing on your breath.

“Focusing on your breathing can be a great way to focus in meditation,” she said. “It trains your mind to quiet when you want it to, and enables you to get some space around thoughts that feel overwhelming.”

Another strategy that she suggested includes visualizing a warm ball of light that envelopes your body and nourishes your cells with balance and calm, fresh energy.

“This can do wonders on staying present and focusing during the day, and in the evening can be visualized as a warm light of relaxation and peacefulness in preparation for sleep,” Proctor explained.

Proctor said she believes meditation is extremely important for maintaining healthy sleep habits because of the stress-relieving and mind-quieting benefits it offers.

And in addition to meditating, she also recommends limiting your “screen time” (or interacting with digital devices like your phone, tablet, TV and laptop) at night, especially within 30 minutes of your bedtime.

“Keep electronic devices outside the bedroom so you can protect and purify your relaxation space,” Proctor said. “A nighttime routine, like a warm bath, writing in a journal, reading a chapter or even just a paragraph of an inspiring book—basically taking a few minutes for yourself, especially if you are a caretaker—can also support a nurturing sleep practice.”

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