It may not come as a big surprise that meditation can help improve sleep. After all, the practice itself is so relaxing that many people have dozed off while doing it! Meditation and sleep have long been linked. In fact, the term ‘beditation’, or meditation while lying down, has been coined to emphasise the age-old connection between the technique of bringing your subconscious thoughts to the conscious mind and getting a more restful night’s sleep as a result.
If mind-numbing activities like counting sheep or reading a book on quantum physics aren’t working for you, explore these two ancient meditation techniques to quieten those late-night thoughts and help with the business of getting to bed—and staying there.
This technique involves repeating a particular sound to calm your body and quieten the thoughts buzzing about in your mind. Repetition of the mantra is thought to help you disconnect from distracting or stressful thoughts so that you can tune into your mind’s stillness and peace.
The word mantra has two parts: ‘man’, which is from a Sanskrit word for mind; and ‘tra’, the root of the word for instrument. Literally, mantra means ‘instrument of the mind’. Figuratively speaking, it means ‘revealed sound’. The most well-known mantra is, of course, ‘Om’ (or aum).
Want to try it for yourself? Try mantra meditation along with the video below to see if it melts away your stresses and worries.
Not feeling ‘Om’? No problem. Let your mind decide which sound is most pleasing to you. Then repeat it until your thoughts seem quieter and you feel more at peace (and sleepy).
In the Buddhist tradition, the word Vipassana means ‘insight into the true nature of reality’. Essentially, this form of meditation consists of using self-observation to see things as they truly are. This means recognising both the desirable and undesirable elements of your true nature without passing judgement on yourself.
To try it, think about the activities of the day that may have been off-putting. Ask yourself: what about that occurrence made me uncomfortable or upset? What steps should I take to reconcile this occurrence within myself? How can I shed this feeling so that I can ‘leave it’ in today and not carry it over into tomorrow? Or, how can I react differently so as to not let it affect me as severely?
Being mindful and honest about your thoughts before you go to bed may allow you to release that stress and bring less of it into your sleep and the days that follow. This will help you both to get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night, making you more able to effectviely deal with stressful situations in the future, too.
Do you have any meditation techniques that help you to unwind or fall asleep? If so, share them with us in the comments below.