Can Meditation Improve Your Sleep?


Published:

Meditation And Sleep

A 2015 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that mindfulness meditation helped improve sleep quality among older adults with moderate sleep disturbances. 49 participants whose with an average age of 66 were split into two groups. Half of the group was taught mindfulness meditation, and the other half was taught sleep education. Both groups met 6 times, once a week for two hours. The mindfulness meditation group showed significant improvement relative to the sleep education group regarding insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, and daytime fatigue.

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

The Mindfulness Meditation program used in the JAMA study is from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center (MARC), whose purpose is to "foster mindful awareness across the lifespan through education and research to promote well-being and more compassionate society." MARC's website defined mindfulness as "Paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one's inner experience. There are many ways to bring mindfulness into one's life, such as meditation, yoga, art, or time in nature. Mindfulness can be trained systematically, and can be implemented in daily life, by people of any age, profession or background."

Their program isn't just seated meditation but includes mindful eating and mindful movement. Participants started with a 5-minute session, and gradually worked their way to 20-minute sessions.

How To Practice Mindfulness Meditation

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Many meditation teachers recommend practicing both seated and moving meditations.

Seated Meditation

Here are some steps to practice mindfulness in a seated meditation:

  1. Find a place that is quiet and without distraction.
  2. Sit cross-legged, on your shins, or seated on a bed or chair with spine erect. Place the backs of your hands on your thighs so your palms are up.
  3. Breathe in for a count of 10, hold your breath for 10, and exhale for 10. Repeat that 5 times.
  4. Breathe in and tense your entire body for a few seconds, then relax and exhale quickly. Repeat 5 times.
  5. Let your breath flow in and out without controlling it, and spend some time feeling a sense of relaxation. If you feel a tension in any body part, you can tense and relax that area and try to consciously relax it.
  6. Watch your breath without controlling it. Let go of any thoughts and feelings that come up.  It's a habit to think about the past, the future, what you have to do, to worry, to fear; remind yourself that this is your break from the normal mental routine. When any thoughts or feelings arise, just go back to watching your breath and feeling that sense of calmness.

It's easiest to start with just a few minutes of practice and gradually increase the amount of time. Understand that some days may feel very peaceful and other days will feel like mental warfare. Over time as you build the habit it will get easier.

Moving Meditation

Moving meditation is practicing mindfulness while doing many activities. Many people use martial arts such as Tai Chi as a form of moving meditation, but you could practice mindfulness while driving, washing the dishes, doing yoga, dancing, or walking.

Here are some steps for practicing mindfulness while driving:

  1. Turn off the radio, or turn on some calming music.
  2. Start by taking a few deep breaths and let go of any tension in your body.
  3. Practice being aware of all of the different components of driving without thinking about or feeling any emotions. Notice your grip on the steering wheel, the pressure you put on the brake and accelerator, and be aware of where you are on the road.
  4. If any thoughts or feelings come up, just go back to focusing on the practice of driving. Don't hurry, enjoy the present moment, and keep yourself in a relaxed and aware state.

Many mindfulness practitioners find it helpful to practice both seated and moving meditations. If you experience a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the day, you may find it difficult to slow your mind down at night. But if you had practiced some relaxation and mindfulness during the day, it will be easier to get into a state of calmness when you sit to practice meditation.

For more ways to practice mindfulness, visit the MARC website.

Neuroplasticity

The term "Neuronal plasticity" was first used in the early 1900s by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, a Spanish neuroscientist and pathologist. Neuroplasticity was first used by Polish neuroscientist Jerzy Konorski in 1948 to describe changes in the neuronal structures that make up our brains. An easy way to understand it is that certain activities can "rewire" your brain.

In an article published by the National Institutes of Health entitled "Buddha's Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation," researchers explain "Over the course of meditating for tens of thousands of hours, the long-term practitioners had actually altered the structure and function of their brains." Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and measured hemodynamic changes to study the brains of experienced meditators.

How Your Genes Respond To Meditation

Harvard University doctor Herbert Benson first coined the term "relaxation response"  (RR). He was one of the early medical pioneers to write about the benefits of meditation, noting the relaxation response was recognized by decreased oxygen consumption, increased exhaled nitric oxide, and reduced psychological distress. He wrote about meditation reducing anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and he said it also leads to genetic changes. Benson, the author of The Relaxation Response and founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, claims that the relaxation response  is "Effective with virtually all diseases with a stress component."

Dr. Benson explains further in a Washington Post article, "What we have found is that when you evoke the relaxation response, the very genes that are turned on or off by stress are turned the other way. The mind can actively turn on and turn off genes. The mind is not separated from the body."

Another study published by the National Institutes of Health found that people subjects who meditated for 8 weeks had an increased change of expression of genes that control inflammation, circadian rhythms, and glucose metabolism.

Can Mediation Help You?

Meditation can be an effective way to help increase the amount of restful sleep you get every night. As with any skill it takes practice, so don't expect amazing results right from the beginning. Start with just a couple minutes twice per day, and gradually add more time. If you find your mind wandering, you can reduce the time to get a more focused practice.

And don't expect meditation to fix your sleep issues. You may be breaking some of the basic rules of getting good sleep. Learn the basics from top experts of good sleep hygiene to find out what you are doing that's preventing you from getting to sleep, staying asleep, and/or waking up refreshed.

This article was republished from Start Sleeping.

See also:
Why Dreaming Matters
How To Get A Healthy Night’s Sleep

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

January 22, 2020

Mixed trends build safety and stability in some instances and create chaotic turmoil in others. The Capricorn Moon helps make visionary ideas and solutions available during the early morning hours. Pay close attention to your first waking…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2020

Saturday January 18th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm and Sunday January 19th, 2020 from 10:30-4pm In Reiki Master Level you will learn the master symbols, receive the master level attunement and learn how...

Cost: $295 for new students, $195 for the refresher option

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Join us and connect to the powerful energies of the bird kingdom. Throughout earth history, birds have been thought to be divine messengers. Many spiritual systems believe they are emissaries of...

Cost: $95

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack St
Methuen, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: front desk
Website »

More information

Your soul has already seeded your existence with all that is needed to completely express your destiny. Let the Miracle Mantra awaken you to the awareness of spirit ever present in your...

Cost: Suggested Donation: $20

Where:
Yoga At The Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga at the Ashram
Telephone: 508-376-4525
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

January 19th, February 16th, March 8th by appointment only. Kinetic Chain Release (KCR) to balance body, resolve leg length discrepancies, reduce back, shoulder, knee, hip pain and reduce stress...

Cost: $65 to $145

Where:
Leapin' Lizards
449 Forest Ave
Portland, ME  04101
View map »


Sponsor: Leapin' Lizards
Telephone: 207-221-2363
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Discover Beauty. Discover Goodness. Discover Yourself. Your soul’s gifts are waiting. Breathe. Find stillness. The spark you need to ignite your life is here, within. Max Meditation...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Total Life Group Cleanse begins with Jonathan Glass, Ayurvedic practitioner Includes the following three Tuesdays. A 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and...

Where:
Concord, MA


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Are you considering, going through or recovering from divorce? Join us at our free Daytime Divorce Boot Camp, and we’ll help you get into shape! In response to requests from people who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Do you have questions about the legal process of divorce? Join us at our free informative workshop in Hingham, MA! About this event: David Kellem, experienced Family Law Attorney &...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kellem Mahoney Family Law & Mediation Group
100 Recreation Park Drive
Suite 201
Hingham, MA  02043
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Are you ready to permanently up-level your life? Are you ready close the gap between where you are today and your higher purpose? Are you ready to take a definitive step toward healing the...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Join us at Vesta’s One-Day Divorce Retreat in Newton, MA! In just one day... you will come away with valuable knowledge about the issues associated with separation and divorce,...

Cost: $149

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

January is the time of the year when we look ahead to the year in front of us and imagine it to be better than the one we are leaving behind. We often make the New Years resolution in January and...

Cost: $108 before Jan 20 ($120 after)

Where:
Unity Farm Sanctuary
17 Unity Lane
Westborough Shopping Center
Sherborn, MA  01770
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

This is a free and mandatory orientation prior to registering for the 8 week group program of mindfulness based stress reduction or MBSR. Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly....

Cost: Free

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

This class will teach you how to make your own intricate wire-wrapped gemstone pendant, expanding on the basics from the introductory Level 1 class that has been taught previously. This class if...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $60 per person or $50 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Our Yellow Banner is in Window w/Fairy Lights Please remove shoes at the door
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

We will be sitting in the New Moon Energy and The Energy and Consciousness of the Chinese New Year.  Stacey and Bob will be doing an energetic transmission with Energies and Stones...

Cost: Class: $30, Online Reg. $25

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Next Class Starts January 25, 2020 You will learn: How to hypnotize How to use hypnosis to help clients make personal changes How to turn hypnosis into a profitable part-time or...

Where:
, RI


Telephone: 401-374-1890
Website »

More information

January 25–April 26, 2020 Now offered in one day and weekend modules that can be taken individually or consecutively.  Dates and individual class links are listed below. All...

Cost: $1360

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags