Sleep meditation for a happier life. Finally, science tells us what sleep is good for; to repair, restore, and improve, both, the brain and the body.
Sleep deprivation impacts overall health, causes stress, weight gain, and it even leads to premature ageing.
Right now, lack of sleep is a severe issue impacting people all over the world.
With two-thirds of adults in developed countries – US, UK, Japan and South Korea – not getting the recommended eight hours sleep, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a “sleep loss epidemic.”
The Importance of Sleep
To date, there’s a lot written about the importance of sleep.
More recently, ‘Why We Sleep’ by the neuroscientist Matthew Walker has become a bible for those who seek to unlock the secrets of sleep.
Not without a lot of criticism, I should say.
Regardless if you like or not Matthew’s book, it is clear that we needed scientists to prove what Dalai Lama has been saying all along:
“Sleep meditation is the best.”
Why? You’ll see in a min or so.
Right now, during this forced lockdown, sleep meditation is your perfect ally.
To become healthier, happier, the best version of you.
The question is, what’s sleep meditation, and how do you practice?
Firstly, it starts with understanding the need to create the right conditions for a great night sleep meditation session.
Sleep Meditation – No Caffeine Or Drugs
As a fundamental offender that blocks the brain’s sleep pathways, you must avoid caffeine.
If you can’t start your day without coffee, at least prevent it after 2 PM.
Not only coffee is to be avoided but also tea, dark chocolate, and even decaf coffee which has up to 30 per cent caffeine found in regular coffee.
Fifty per cent of caffeine is still in your system, overriding the internal sleep clock, seven hours after you drink it.
Also, avoid any kind of legal or illegal drugs. From the legal drugs category, painkillers and weight loss pills, in particular, are the worse you can take before you go to bed.
Sleep Meditation – An Evening Ritual
Your eyes communicate with your brain, via the optic nerve, telling if it’s dark outside.
Then, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (in simple terms, your internal clock) tells your brain to start the melatonin production, the hormone that makes you sleepy.
That’s why light before sleep is a big no-no.
Blue light from electronic devices is known to reduce melatonin production by 50 per cent.
After dinner, put your iPhone, smartphone, or any other devices that emit blue LED light, outside your bedroom.
Sleep in the dark. I mean, total darkness.
Set the alarm
Most adults need around eight hours of sleep.
To get those hours in, you must discover whether you are a morning or evening person and what’s your circadian rhythm.
Then, time your eight hours of sleep to suit your body’s rhythm.
Once you’ve found your optimal rhythm, go to bed at the same time every night.
Obviously, post this coronavirus lockdown, you will enjoy some late-nights out.
Yet, this is the time to form a healthy habit that will serve well for the rest of your life.
Cool everything down
Your body has evolved in millions of years to follow the rise and drop of earth’s temperature.
When the outside temperature starts dropping, that’s a sign for your brain that sunset sets in, thus night is coming; thus, it is time to find shelter and sleep.
We’re no longer hiding in caves to survive.
Yet, our bodies and brains haven’t changed much, so the same happens now.
Even in the safety of your room, the temperature must drop by two to three degrees, to help you fall asleep.
According to research, the ideal room temperature is around 18.3-Celsius degrees.
Counter-intuitively, the best way to cool down your body is by taking a hot bath.
It’s not the bath heat that makes you sleepy, but your temperature dropping after you get out of the tub.
Relax Before Sleep Meditation
Once you’re in bed, let your mind and body relax.
Begin by taking five deep breaths.
Then, consciously draw your attention to your body as it is relaxing on the mattress.
Start paying attention to your body’s actual sensations.
Feel any tingling, discomfort, coolness, numbness, heat, and even pain.
Do not try to change anything; just pay attention and acknowledge what is already present.
Pay attention to any physical experiences such as stomach-churning, heart-pounding, light-headedness, and so on.
Become aware of your bodily sensations.
Know when and how they change.
Now, let your body and mind fade away in this state of awareness and consciousness.
Let yourself fall asleep.
Sleep Meditation Conclusion
The Dalai Lama’s quote, “Sleep meditation is the best,” tells so much.
It reveals that sleep meditation has a unique power of cleaning both, your body and mind.
Right before you fall asleep, be conscious of what’s happening to you.
Be aware of it, and sleep it well.
With time and practice you’ll develop the ability to see your self with clarity.
You’ll know when you’re stressed or anxious.
Once aware, you’ll be able to respond with consideration, lesser concerns, more self-care, and manage it effectively, during the day.
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