Yoga, Meditation and Sleep

For a natural, drug-free way to get to sleep, meditation or yoga can be great options. Research has shown that meditation can help you put your worries aside so you can get a better night’s rest. Even though it may be easier said than done to relax, you’ll sleep better at night if you can keep your stress levels under control. Meditation has been found to calm the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. It decreases worry and helps you sleep better.

Yoga and Insomnia

Yoga has been proven effective against symptoms of insomnia by using techniques such as closing your eyes and breathing slowly and deeply, as it has a calming effect on the body.

Recent research from Harvard Medical School in Boston found that yoga helps relieve chronic insomnia. Yoga has been proven to be effective in addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of insomnia. The participants in the study had significantly improved sleep, including the total time spent sleeping, quicker sleep onset and fewer awakenings at night.

Yoga has also been found to be beneficial to women experiencing post-menopausal insomnia. A 2012 study found that participants who practiced yoga had significantly reduced severity of their insomnia, as well as fewer menopause symptoms.

The following are some methods of meditation which are best done before bedtime in a calming, quiet atmosphere:

Abdominal Breathing

Focus your attention on your breathing – breathe through the abdomen to help you relax either during the day or in bed at night. You may also enjoy closing your eyes in a dimly lit room while listening to ambient music and focusing on your breathing.

Try sitting or lying down on you bed and put your hands on your abdomen. Focus on how your hands gently move to get your mind off your busy day and onto your body. This will distract you and bring you to a different place.

Guided Imagery

Imagining a calm scene can help you wind down when the day is over. As long as it’s soothing, it doesn’t matter what you choose to visualize. Common ideas people utilize are clouds, the ocean and mountains. Pick something that makes you feel safe and use all of your senses to explore it.

Guided imagery can be done by yourself or with the help of a specialist such as a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, or sleep specialist. You can use a CD with an instructor’s prompts, too.

Mindful Meditation

Look at one thing at a time in your life in order to slow down and “let it go.” It may be helpful to record your thoughts in a diary and take 15 minutes to take the issues that run through your head at night and write them out. Remember that when the lights are out, and you are preparing for sleep. You can’t do anything about what’s bothering you. However, always keep in mind that you will have plenty of time during the following day to take action.

Counting Down

While you’re lying down, look upward. The slight strain on the eyes will help relax you. Take a deep breath and hold it and while you let the breath out, feel your entire body relax. Count down from 10-20 and imagine you’re slowly going down each step on a flight of stairs.

To learn more about how meditation and yoga may treat your sleeping problems, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563.