Insomnia is a growing problem. Even if you are lucky enough not to suffer from full insomnia many more of us will often have difficulties sleeping. In many cases this insomnia is caused by stress. Our minds are racing before we go to bed, instead of being properly relaxed and winding down. Without this ability to switch off our thoughts we are simply too alert and cannot fall asleep.
Earlier this month, The American College of Physicians issued a clinical practice guideline for adult patients that recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia as the initial treatment for chronic insomnia, rather than a course of drugs.
Meditation is an effective treatment for insomnia and as it helps us to reduce stress and helps calm the racing mind.
Mindfulness Meditation: Side Effects
There is growing respect for mindfulness meditation as an effective way to treat insomnia in the world of conventional medicine. Various studies have examined the issue with some finding it to be at least as effective as more conventional treatments, without the potentially harmful side-effects of medication.
Any side effects from meditation and mindfulness will be positive, such as being more relaxed in general and very possibly being more productive. This makes mindfulness meditation a very positive idea for anyone who suffers from insomnia or has difficulty sleeping in general.
Mindfulness, essentially, is a way of directing your thoughts to whatever is happening immediately – living in the moment. Therefore, it will be beneficial to use mindfulness meditation to shift your thoughts away from whatever it is that is worrying you or that you cannot stop thinking about so that you are able to shut down your mind and fall asleep for the night. There are a range of techniques that you can incorporate into your life to achieve this.
A very simple strategy is simply to focus on your breathing as you are lying in bed. You should not be attempting to change the way you breathe – just try to focus on the sensation of breathing. Note any differences in each breath. Where in your body do you feel the sensation of each breath? Note the rising and falling of your rib-cage and the sensation in your nostrils. Focusing on this will relax your mind, distancing yourself from the stresses of life.
Otherwise, you could focus your attention on different sounds that you can hear around you, counting as many as possible and focusing on each one for a few seconds before moving on and focusing on the next one. These sounds could be anything from the sound of the wind, a car passing, a train or aeroplane, the breathing or snoring of your partner, the sound of birds or nature outside.
If you really cannot fall asleep then you should not try to fight it too much, this can only make you more stressed and you may find it even harder to fall asleep. Instead, perhaps sit up, or get out of bed and do something else. This ability to forgive yourself, to let things be, is the ultimate tool for relaxing your mind.
If you have sleep problems you will benefit from incorporating meditation into your daily life. The more you practice guided meditation, the easier you will find it to sleep naturally, as you will become more accepting and compassionate towards yourself. It will be most effective if you meditate just before you go to bed, but 10 minutes a day, every day, will be much more effective than just doing it once or a few times a week
As well as regular practice of meditation, sufferers of severe insomnia should try to cultivate sensible bedtime routines. Avoid eating three hours before going to bed; turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you prepare to go to sleep. Set a regular bedtime and getting up time and stick to this routine, even at the weekend.
Disclaimer: This and any other health-related story on this website is based upon the research or opinions of the individual author. It is not intended to replace a relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.