Experiencing another sleepless night? You’re not alone. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 68 percent of Americans say they struggle with sleep on a weekly basis and 27 percent struggle nightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes that more than one-third of adults in America get less than the necessary seven hours of sleep a night – and this can lead to chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or obesity. Luckily, mindful meditation offers an everyday way to enhance your sleep for a peaceful, rejuvenating rest.
What is Mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is paying attention to your physical body and the world around you to promote harmony and balance in your life. There are plenty of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine; these include mindful eating, or paying close attention to the five senses while eating, and mindful movement, or exercise that combines mental focus and physical awareness.
Mindful meditation, or Vipassana meditation, is an ancient form of Buddhist meditation that has been practiced for thousands of years. Translating to “insight,” Vipassana helps you focus on your breathing, bringing attention to the present and letting go of stresses. The practice evokes a “relaxation response” by breaking the pattern of anxious thoughts, which can improve sleep quality.
How Mindful Meditation Improves Sleep
Dr. Herbert Benson, MD, a pioneer in Mind Body Medicine, notes that the relaxation response elicited by mindful meditation can relieve sleep disorders and other stress-related ailments, such as pain, depression and high blood pressure. But meditation does more than reduce stress levels, it is also reported to increase melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin levels increase as the sun goes down and decrease when the sun rises, sending signals to your body to fall asleep and wake up. By meditating, you can potentially increase your melatonin levels, helping you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
A recent clinical trial by JAMA Internal Medicine followed 49 adults with difficulty sleeping to test the impact of mindful meditation. Participants were divided into two groups: the “sleep education” group and the “mindfulness” group. The sleep education group were taught healthy sleeping habits, such as reading before bed, avoiding heavy meals in the evening, and following good “sleep hygiene” practices, all of which are considered conducive to quality sleep.
The mindfulness group used meditation and other exercises, such as mindful eating and movement, to help them focus on “moment-by moment experiences, thoughts and emotions,” starting with 5 minutes per day and increasing to 20 minutes by the end of the study. At the conclusion of the six-week study, the results revealed that adults in the mindfulness group were found to have “less insomnia, fatigue, and depression” compared to those in the sleep education group.
Ananda for a Better Night’s Sleep
In addition to mindful meditation, having the right mattress can be key for improving sleep. Balancing the mind and body, the Ananda Sleep System offers a variety of personalized settings to match your unique needs. With independent head-up and foot up, pillow tilt, dual massage, custom memory options and 3 pre-programmed positions, Ananda helps you create the perfect environment for rest, relaxation and meditation.