If your health and wellbeing — including sleep in particular — has just been ‘off’ this year, join the club. Physicians and surveys have shared that stress from the COVID-19 pandemic (hello, lockdown) has caused sleep problems for many Americans, and we weren’t doing that great, to begin with.
Loss of sleep (both in hours and in quality) can contribute to many, many health problems, and can create a snowball effect thanks to its ability to aggravate stress levels. One (clinically proven) tool to help sleep? Meditation. The fact that it’s free and can take just five minutes sweetens the deal even more. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about meditation for sleep.
Benefits of Meditation For Sleep
Studies have shown that meditation can improve sleep quality (i.e., more restful zzzs) and may help regulate “cortisol and catecholamine levels” (i.e., regulate stress hormones) to contribute to better, more powerful sleep.
In essence: do some meditation before sleep — it may be just what you need to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get better quality rest.
Benefits of Getting More Sleep
To better understand the benefits of sleep, it’s important to also understand the harm that comes from a lack of sleep. One compilation of studies (published in 2018) found that impaired or lost sleep leads to “hypertension, obesity and type-2 diabetes, impaired immune functioning, cardiovascular disease and arrhythmias, mood disorders, neurodegeneration and dementia, and even loneliness.” … YIKES. The impact of reduced duration and disrupted sleep is significant, affecting your body on a cellular level, with a bearing on your metabolism, hormone regulation, and even gene expression.
Conversely, by improving your sleep and getting more shuteye every night, you’re less likely to run into all of the aforementioned ailments. You’ll enhance everything from your metabolism and memory to learning ability and immune system functions.
Beyond Sleep: Benefits of Meditation
Aside from getting more restful sleep (which, very obviously, has a *huge* impact on your overall health), meditation has some positive health effects on its own, too.
The Mayo Clinic reported that meditation might help alleviate not only sleep problems but feelings of anxiety too… and that’s just the start of the lengthy list of benefits! There are a bevvy of known emotional health benefits, too. Think: better stress-management skills, improved self-awareness, a more joyful and present life, better creativity, and overall improved patience. The list goes on and on, making meditation something we truly all could benefit from.
Beginner’s Luck (It’s Easier Than You’d Think)
If you’re thinking, “Alright, alright, that sounds nice, but I don’t know how to sit cross-legged and achieve nirvana,” then sit tight! You don’t have to be a monk or guru to do — or reap the benefits of — meditation (read: you don’t need to have a ton of experience with this to get started!).
Know that you don’t have to have an empty mind for thirty minutes or an hour, and you can start by just focusing on your breath or using a guided meditation audio (which we’ll get to!) for five minutes.
FIVE MINUTES! You can do it. You probably spend more time scrolling through Instagram, right? We believe in you.
Three 5-Minute Sleep Meditations
Like we said, five minutes before bed (or really any time of day), and you could be seeing alllll of those benefits we listed out. Here are five 5-minute guided meditation videos to get you ready for bed.
Bonus: Some Longer Sleep Meditations
Ready for more? We’ve got some nighttime specific guided meditations that are 10 or 15 minutes long, so you can up your meditation game and reap even more sleep benefits.
Relaxing Sleep (10 minutes)
Deep Body Relax (10 minutes)
Peace Out Bedtime (15 minutes)
Sleep Yoga Nidra (20 minutes)
Above all, keep at this practice to ensure you get the hang of it and get some more sleep. We could all use some more restoration right now in light of all the stress 2020 has thrown our way. Enjoy these peaceful tracks and sweet dreams.