Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders in the world, with the condition being characterised by an inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or both. While most people may judge their sleep patterns by evaluating the hours spent asleep, a far more useful approach to understanding why you feel so tired, irritable, and even emotional during the day is by evaluating the quality of sleep, rather than the hours. This not only provides you with an accurate snapshot regarding why you experience symptoms like waking too early, feeling unrested after a night’s sleep, and lying awake at night, unable to sleep, but also helps you understand the right steps to take to manage the same.
Interestingly, insomnia can occur in any one, at any point of time in their lives. This is because the causes of insomnia are often rooted in psychology, with disorders such as anxiety and depression playing a major role in impacting the quality of your sleep. As a result, one of the most effective ways to treat insomnia is through meditation.
How does meditation help combat insomnia?
Meditation is one of the most ancient practices in the world, and though it may be linked with various spiritual and religious beliefs, it does not have its roots in the same. At its core, meditation is a practise that’s meant to alter your consciousness, making you more aware of your surroundings, and even bring a certain degree of peace in your life. As this practise significantly reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety, meditation has recently gained a lot of popularity, with mindfulness meditation being at the helm of all types.
When you meditate, your parasympathetic nervous system causes your heart rate to become slower, leading to slower breathing rates in the process. These three effects combine to create the perfect conditions for a good night’s sleep. In other words, meditation relaxes your body and mind, even when you’re in the throes of depression or anxiety, by forcing you to concentrate on the present moment. This prevents your mind from going into ‘overdrive’ and lets you not only fall asleep, but also sustain healthy sleep for a longer duration. In fact, studies have shown that over 50% of people participating in a mindfulness meditation study geared towards combating insomnia reported a significant reduction in their symptoms!
What are the other benefits of meditation?
Insomnia is only one of the reasons why people choose to meditate. The practise helps you control your emotional responses to situations in your life, letting you take a step back and truly think before you react. This results in much better relationships with peers, friends, and family, along with a better relationship with yourself.
Of course, meditation also offers a wide range of benefits as far as your health is concerned. For instance, meditating before and after your workouts is highly effective as it allows you to connect with your body and be present in each movement.
Multiple scientific studies suggest that meditation can also be very good for people suffering from a broad range of illnesses. Some of the benefits of meditation include:
- Reducing the effects of Irritable Bowel Syndrome after 8 weeks of guided sessions
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Reducing inflammation and stress in those who suffer from Ulcerative Colitis
- Reducing anxiety, depression and stress
- Facilitating smoking cessation
- Reducing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood disturbances, sleep disturbances, joint pain and muscle pain
- Improving pain management
Of course, having said this, it is also important to note that meditation is not meant to replace any ongoing medical treatments. It simply enhances those treatments and offers patients a better quality of life.
How to carry out mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is relatively simple, which is perhaps one of the reasons for its large-scale popularity when compared with other forms of meditation. During a session, you must focus on your breathing – pay attention to each inhalation and exhalation, along with the pauses you take. In some mindfulness sessions, participants are encouraged to breathe in for 3 counts while breathing out for 5 counts to ensure deep breathing. However, if you are a novice, you can begin by breathing in and out for 2 counts until you get the hang of things.
Fortunately, there are a host of guided meditation apps that take you through multiple meditation exercises. In fact, apart from offering meditation for better sleep, they also offer sessions designed to help reduce anxiety and depression, while increasing positive feelings such as gratitude and happiness. As all these different sessions follow the pattern of mindfulness meditation, insomniacs can still benefit by participating in them.
What if you don’t have time to meditate?
Here’s the beauty of meditation – it doesn’t take very long. In fact, when it comes to guided meditation, 10 minutes are more than enough for you to enjoy the benefits of meditation without feeling like you are way behind on your scheduled tasks.
With stress being a natural part of most people’s lives today, it is essential to combat the same and prevent or reduce instances of insomnia. One of the best ways to do so is by booking a guided mindfulness meditation session that not only helps you improve your mind’s response to stress, but also improves your quality of sleep significantly.