Meditation to Help Induce Sleepby Kristina Brooks Editor
Simple daily meditations can help symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and reduce stress. This quick guide will help make meditation easy.
What can meditation do?
Meditation includes practices or techniques to increase relaxation, build energy, or strengthen an internal quality such as love, patience or forgiveness. Meditation helps regulate sleep-inducing factors, as well as energizing us almost as much as a full night's sleep. So, it can work as both a sleep supplement and a way to help symptoms of insomnia.
Are there different types?
There are different ways to meditate, based on what you're trying to achieve. For sleep, experts suggest guided imagery (imagining a relaxing place or scene), **mindfulness meditation **(focusing on the rise and fall of breath, allowing thoughts to come and go), and counting down. Yoga’s corpse pose, or progressive muscle relaxation, helps you put different muscles of the body to rest.
Promoting sleep with melatonin
Studies have shown that meditation increases the level of the melatonin hormone, by stimulating the pineal gland of the brain. Melatonin is responsible for inducing sleep, so a spike in levels means sleep or drowsiness is sure to follow. Melatonin production happens in the dark, so it's best to remove as much light as possible when meditating.
Promoting sleep by reducing stress
Dr. Herbert Benson, director of Harvard’s Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, says that for many, sleep disorders are triggered by stress. Meditation helps lower stress levels that keep our minds buzzing throughout the day and night. It also helps by raising levels of GABA in your nervous system. Low levels have shown to be related to tension, anxiety and insomnia.
How can I start?
One of the best ways to begin night-time meditation is with mindfulness meditation, which focuses on breathing. This helps filter out racing thoughts and quiet the mind for sleep. For added relaxation, this can be done with or without music, or paired with guided imagery. Also available are meditation phone apps and audio, as well as meditation classes at local yoga or wellness centers.
It takes practice
Many health experts suggest practicing mindful meditation during the day, so it becomes easier to create the sensation at night. When meditating at night, experts say it's best not to exceed 15 minutes, as longer sessions can help make us more energetic and alert. Creating a more relaxing environment for sleep or establishing a sleep routine can also help turn our minds off.