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

September 23, 2019

During the predawn hours the Sun slips into Libra and Autumn begins. The Fall Equinox is a short-lived time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are balanced. If you’ve been putting off preparations for the coming winter, set to it. The waning…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2019

It’s time for a workshop!  One plus one always equals two. In a similar fashion EFT plus Law of Attraction always equals effective and positive change. Teaching Emotional Freedom...

Cost: $40

Where:
21 Wiles Farm Road
Northboro, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Medicine My Way
Telephone: 508-523-7132
Website »

More information

In this 90 minute workshop you will find clarity in what brings you joy. You will create your personal vision statement that will help guide you to living a more satisfied, balanced life. This...

Cost: $25 early-bird till 9/20 ($30 after)

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

Witness the healing power of mediumship! Join New England's own trusted spirit medium Raylene Sousa and top UK medium Dominic Boag from Scotland for an afternoon of spirit messages. If...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Little Meetinghouse
723 Roosevelt Trail
Windham, ME  04062
View map »


Sponsor: Raylene Sousa Medium LLC
Telephone: 207-956-0220
Contact Name: Raylene Sousa
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

Show More...
Show Less...

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Members of the Reflexology Association of NH will be offering “mini” hand or foot reflexology sessions at the Salt Cave within Bien Soigne in honor of World Reflexology Week.

Cost: Donations suggested $15 - $20

Where:
Bien Soigne Salt Cave
350 North Broadway
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: Reflexology Association of NH
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 25–October 29, 2019 Expert Tai Chi instructor and Qigong Master Instructor Terry Dunn will be giving a total of four five-day intensive workshops in October 2019 at Eastover...

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 26–29 This training at the Center for Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) uses mindfulness meditation and cognitive therapy to break the cycle of...

Cost: $1,390

Where:
Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge St, Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

Come detox, relax and renew yourself for the fall in our sanctuary! We have an intimate gathering of great readers and healers providing services at sampler rates to enjoy their services while...

Cost: $60: 3 Pack Service Special; $25: Single Service

Where:
Healing Power Of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


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

More information

Mirabai Starr was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial...

Cost: $20

Where:
First Parish in Lexington
7 Harrington Road
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Lexington Community Education
Telephone: 781-862-8043
Contact Name: Craig Hall
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Maryellen Labelle, David Sholemson and Steve Cunningham are excited to announce Qigong for Inner Peace teacher training fall term 2019. This 50 hour certification training is appropriate for a wide...

Cost: $1100 / $800 early registration

Where:
Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Qigong for Inner Peace
Telephone: 617-721-7215
Contact Name: Maryellen Labelle / David Sholemson
Website »

More information

Join life coach Cheryl Richardson and her husband, Michael Gerrish, a psychotherapist and gifted intuitive, for a special evening designed to help you upgrade your life! During this event,...

Cost: $35

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


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

More information

This Dating Program is the follow-up to Kerri Morrison's workshop, Deliberate Dating: 5 Keys to Successful Online Romance; held Friday, August 16th, 2019 from 6:30-7:30pm. View that event...

Cost: $199

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn Reiki—revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher.) This one-day class covers the...

Cost: $150

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

With Laura Haley, IET Master Instructor Trainer  This class provides you with everything you need to conduct a powerful Integrated Energy Therapy session on yourself or others (either in...

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
Methuen, MA


Telephone: (978) 474-8010
Website »

More information

Learn the benefits of yoga for families as well as how to develop character in children to get them more focused, respectful, and confident before returning back to school this fall! This class...

Cost: $45 early bird till 9/25 (includes child and a parent), $50 after

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

September 28–29 Saturday 10 am Registration; 10 am–5 pm  Sunday 10 am–5 pm This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers students the opportunity to...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
The Hampton Inn Coventry Warwick
850 Centre Of New England Boulevard
Coventry, RI
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

September 28–29 Learn hands-on techniques for the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, as well as the sacrum, psoas and ilium. Leave with tools you can use right away. Coming in...

Where:
Downeast School of Massage
Waldoboro, ME


Telephone: (617) 678-8920
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

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