Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Sleep Quality?1

When you think about it, most of us are sleep deprived and might be spending the work week thinking about the weekend when we can sleep in, if lucky. While medications and herbal remedies are available to enhance sleep, many individuals have taken to yoga and mindfulness meditation to explore their benefits when it comes to improving sleep.

Sleep Deprivation Is a Widespread Problem

Research shows that nearly 80 million Americans are sleep deprived and along with sleep disorders, they may also be diabetic, obese and depressed. Some studies show that close to 30 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from short-term sleep troubles while about 10 percent have chronic insomnia.

The statistics also show that short sleep duration is a major problem among adults. Nearly 37 percent of 20-39-year olds and 40 percent of 40-59-year-olds have this issue while 35.3 percent of adults get only less than seven hours of sleep in a day, every day.

Mindfulness Meditation and Improved Sleep

Sleep experts advise relaxing the body and mind a few minutes before going to sleep as this might promote restful sleep. This is where mindfulness meditation might help.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that helps you regulate the thoughts that crowd the brain, focus on the present and feel more relaxed. A lot of research backs the theory that this practice may help reduce stress, improve focus and memory, enhance emotional intelligence and of course improve sleep.

A study conducted in 2016 found that a mindfulness-based approach to insomnia and other sleep disorders had positive outcomes, helping the subjects experience improved sleep.

Also called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBT-I), this form of meditation, like other forms, needs regular practice.

Mindfulness approaches the worrying thoughts in the mind by teaching us that these are just thoughts and are not good indicators of the future. Though this practice may be difficult to attain in the beginning, learning to focus on one’s breathing can be beneficial.

It is recommended to start with as little as five minutes a day and gradually increase to 20 minutes of focussed breathing to help relax the mind and body before falling asleep. This is complemented by a body scanning technique where one should, while lying down, focus on each part of the body from the toes to the face and feel how each limb relaxes with the breathing.

Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Sleep Quality?

If you are tired of counting sheep, drinking warm milk or chamomile tea before going to bed, then this might be the right time to try mindfulness meditation to see if it can help you drift off to sleep faster and sleep like a baby forgetting all of life’s problems, at least until the next morning.

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