Insomnia is a very common problem that takes a toll on your energy, mood, and ability to function during the day. Millions of people are kept awake at night thinking or worrying about work, life or family. And sometimes that turns into a vicious cycle of worrying about not being able to sleep. Well, some sleeping techniques offer some hope. More specifically, a Harvard study found out that practicing mindfulness meditation might help you reduce nighttime stress and deal with insomnia.
What is it anyway?
Mindfulness meditation is a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment. It involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response.
And it is backed up by research. A small Harvard study suggests that mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality and daytime functions in older adults.
The study included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Both groups met six times, once a week for two hours.And the results were very positive. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.
How can I do it?
To elicit the relaxation response, try these two simple steps for 20-min a day:
1. Choose a calming focus. Good examples are your breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale.
2. Let go and relax. Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.
For more detailed steps on how to achieve these mental state, we have attached here an infographic with “10 Steps To Mindfulness Meditation” from Garrison Institute.