Mindfulness is a practice that involves bringing your attention to the present moment, a method that traces its roots to Buddhist meditation and vipassana. Today mental health professionals rely on practicing mindfulness as part of a treatment regimen for depression, anxiety, and other conditions.
Mindfulness is also effective at treating one of the most common health-related issues: insomnia. Sleep studies have shown that mindfulness can be effective for improving sleep for everyone.
Here is an in-depth look from our sleep experts at how to use mindfulness to achieve a better night’s sleep.
The Benefits of Mindfulness for Sleep
Mindfulness brings a specific set of benefits to help with common issues:
- Dealing with anxiety. Those who practice mindfulness can be better at focusing on the present rather than worrying about what could go wrong in the future. This skill can also counteract anxiety-based insomnia.
- Combatting nightmares. Stress, anxiety, and general poor health can all contribute to nightmares, so adopting more mindfulness practices as part of a general health management regimen can help prevent or stop nightmares from disrupting sleep.
- Achieving better mental and physical health. Mindfulness can give people the ability to overcome rumination, emotional responses and triggers, and relationship difficulties. Studies have found links between mindfulness and physical health.
Practice Mindfulness for Sleep
Sleep is one area where the benefit of mindfulness is most evident. If you engage in mindfulness practices you may notice that you sleep deeper and fall asleep more easily, even if you do not have insomnia.
If you struggle with getting quality sleep, mindfulness can be part of your sleep solution. Of course, finding a quality mattress and using a pillow that provides proper support can also help. Even overlooked solutions like purchasing better sheets can aid your sleep.
Here are some specific steps to help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your rest.
Technology can also play a role in helping you sleep. Some devices offer soothing sounds or white noise, or they include automatically dimming lights. Smartwatches and fitness trackers also have sleep settings that track your vital signs during sleep. You can also use such tools to track your heart rate before and after a pre-sleep mindfulness practice.
It takes time to develop a mindfulness practice. Beginning exercises can be simple, such as a body-scan meditation, which involves focusing on the sensations in your body as you lie in bed.
Consistency in practice is important. You do not need to set aside hours for this to work. Even Tibetan monks, revered for their mindfulness skills, start by meditating for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
By developing mindfulness practices, you can reduce anxiety, rumination, and other issues that make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. If you combine these practices with a quality bed, pillow and helpful technology, you should be able to improve the quality of your nightly rest.