In today’s world, we are constantly surrounded by constant noise and distractions. Most of us also carry large burdens of stress upon our shoulders, and look to sleep to relieve the weight. Unfortunately, all of these circumstances can end up making sleep difficult and even impossible for us at night. According to the CDC, one of out every three people will not get enough sleep each night. In a lot of cases, these people (such as myself) suffer from insomnia and other sleep depriving ailments. In lieu of these statistics and to observe Sleep Awareness Week, the Pillows.com team has decided to look into and evaluate different methods that may be the keys to unlocking that perfect night’s sleep. One such key could possibly be found within meditation to combat insomnia and general restlessness.
Meditation: Not just for monks
Since the 1970’s Americans have been gradually experimenting with the calming art of mediation. More and more people are putting aside the notion that meditation is solely a Buddhist or Hindu practice and tapping into the stress-relieving powers it holds. This practice has been coined “Mindfulness Meditation” and it’s practitioners have had great success in stress relief and deeper uninterrupted sleep. The goal of this Mindfulness Meditation is to create the release of a “relaxation response” in the mind of participants. The “relaxation response” is a term used for the deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. “‘The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress,'” Dr. Benson, the creator of the relaxation response term is quoted saying. Dr. Benson further goes on explain how one might achieve this response in quick and simple steps.
Step 1: Find a nice and quiet space
Before the meditation begins, it is recommend that you find a quiet place away from the noise and distraction of the busy world around. Dr. Benson suggests that the individual should allow for about 20 minutes of time to spend meditating. So close the blinds, shut the door, and get comfy because it’s time to begin the relaxation.
Step 2: Find your Focus
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” Dr. Benson says. Finding your focus with meditation will lead to release of the relaxation response. This can be achieved with very simple ways of focusing. Some examples of things to focus on are your breathing, making a sound like an “Om”, saying a short prayer, repeating a positive word, or even repeating a phrase. These can all be done silently in your head or out loud all while inhaling and exhaling slowly.
Step 3: Just. Let. Go.
One of the biggest and most crucial technique to use is letting go. When meditating, there shouldn’t be any worry about how you are doing and if you are doing it right. Just breathe. If your mind starts to wander away from the meditative focus, take a deep breath and begin refocusing on what you were doing before. The idea of meditating as a whole is to let go. Let go of the stress that keeps us up at night. Let go of the weight that drags our energy down throughout the day. Let go and fade into a sleep that is calm and carefree. There is no wrong way to meditate if you are achieving this weightless relaxation.
Step 4: Repeat daily
The results may not come immediately. Like most good things, patience is key. But! If you can keep this up and create that Relaxation Response on a daily basis, there just might be the best night’s sleep of your life waiting to be found in the focus of your meditation.
Inhale. Exhale. Just let it go.