Meditate for Zzzzzs

Recharge


What comes to your mind when you think of meditation? You might think of someone sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, breathing deeply. And you wouldn't be wrong. Meditation can take on many forms. For most people, it involves sitting upright, eyes closed.

But did you know that the benefits of meditation can extend to the time in your day when you lie down with your eyes closed and...sleep? Some research indicates that meditation may impact sleep quality and duration. It can even help people fall asleep faster.

How does meditating in the day impact sleeping at night? Some science suggests that people who meditate regularly have lower amounts of stress hormones. These hormones can make it difficult to relax and rest at night. They can also interfere with the quality of sleep after you drift off. One small study found people experienced less insomnia, fatigue, and depression after only 6 weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation. In this study, meditation was even more helpful for sleep than sleep hygiene, which has been consistently shown to be effective. Talk about a wow factor!

Try meditating today and see how you feel tonight. Evidence suggests it can take a few weeks to see results, but some people feel better and more relaxed immediately after one session.

Set aside twenty minutes today to give meditation a try. If you enjoy it, you can set your alarm each day to remind you to meditate.

How to Meditate

  1. Select a simple focus. Most people choose to focus on the inhale and exhale of their breath. You can also choose a word or phrase that you can repeat over and over either internally or aloud. Some examples are, "relax," "calm," or "safety."
  2. Set a timer so you can focus on the meditation without watching the clock.
  3. If your mind wanders during the meditation (and it will), just direct it back to your original focus.

References

  • Black, D. S., O’Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 494–501. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081
  • Infante, J. R., Torres-Avisbal, M., Pinel, P., Vallejo, J. A., Peran, F., Gonzalez, F., Contreras, P., Pacheco, C., Latre, J. M., & Roldan, A. (2001). Catecholamine levels in practitioners of the transcendental meditation technique. Physiology & Behavior, 72(1), 141–146. doi: 10.1016/S0031-9384(00)00386-3