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Help with Sleep

Using Mindfulness for a Restful Sleep.

In today's fast-paced world, the pursuit of a good night's sleep has become somewhat elusive for many. With endless to-do lists, constant connectivity and the ceaseless chatter of our minds, finding a peaceful slumber can be tricky. Over the years I have found mindfulness meditation to be very helpful when I can’t sleep. If I have a really busy mind, I listen to recordings of different meditations for sleep, and appreciate having a large toolbox of different strategies to try.

Mindfulness involves being fully present and engaged in the moment, without judgment or attachment to thoughts or feelings. By cultivating this awareness, we can effectively quieten the mind and create helpful conditions for restful sleep.

Different things work for different people at different times. If you want to improve your sleep, maybe something for a few days at a time. Be patient and approach each practice with an open mind. With commitment and perseverance, you can use mindfulness to cultivate deep, rejuvenating sleep and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. The simple act of improving our sleep can transform our days, helping us cope with life’s challenges and enabling us to be more effective, both at work and at home. Good sleep helps us be more resilient and tolerant, and also more able to appreciate the pleasant moments of our lives more.

Meditations to Help with Sleep

There are many different meditations one can do to help you get to sleep and also enhance the quality of your sleep. You can try some of them here:

1.     Mindful breathing: 

Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath. Notice the sensation of each inhale and exhale, allowing your breath to become slower and deeper with each cycle. This simple yet effective practice can help calm the nervous system and signal to the body that it's time to relax.

2.     Body Scan meditation: 

Make yourself comfortable and in a position for sleep. Take a few deep breaths, then systematically scan through each part of your body, from head to toe, bringing gentle awareness to any areas of tension or discomfort. Maybe with a sense of relaxing and letting go with each part. Or taking a moment to thank each part of the body for how it helped you today.

3.     Compassion meditation: 

This meditation is where we practise sending kindness to ourselves, bringing some self-compassion to our experience. It is also helpful to focus on others who are also struggling to sleep elsewhere in the world, in particular people who might be in appalling situations in this moment. My concerns that I might be tired the next day if I don’t sleep diminish when I consider others who are facing difficulties. A Kindly Awareness meditation, cultivating kindness to ourselves and to others, can be found here:


Pre-sleep Routine

Incorporating mindfulness into your pre-sleep routine can significantly enhance your ability to unwind and prepare for rest. You might like to consider the following tips:

1. Establish a consistent routine: 

Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends is helpful for people with sleep problems. Consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock and promote healthy sleep patterns.

2. Cultivate a relaxing bedtime ritual: 

Engage in calming activities before bed can signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Whether it's sipping a cup of herbal tea, practising gentle yoga stretches, or listening to soothing music, see if you can find rituals that help you transition from wakefulness to sleep.

3. Digital detox: 

Disconnect from electronic devices at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body's production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles. Instead, choose activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath. Apart from not looking at my phone after 8pm, I am rather addicted to my iPad. I’ll write another post when I crack this one! You can also do some gentle stretches, feeling the sensations in the body, either before getting in bed or when you are lying down.

4. Gratitude journaling: 

Take a few moments to reflect on the day and write down a few things you're grateful for, or that lifted your spirits today. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can shift your focus away from the things you might be stressed or disappointed about, and foster a mindset of contentment, making it easier to let go of worries and ease into sleep. Also, if you know you’re going to do this each evening, it can really change your outlook during the day as you keep an eye out for uplifting moments to note later. I do this for a few months every so often. It is interesting when, after what might feel like a tricky day, I can always find something to be grateful for. As the saying goes, 'It is not being happy that makes us grateful, but being grateful that makes us happy.'

Get in touch if you would like to come to a free online taster session to find out more about mindfulness, learn some simple meditations for sleep, and how to be kind to ourselves when we are facing any sort of difficulty.

If you would like to learn more about insomnia and read other suggestions to improve your sleep, I have written two previous blog posts:

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