The Effects of Meditation on Sleep
It’s clear to most of us that having a more relaxed state of mind makes it much easier to sleep. While that sounds pretty simple, many of us live busy lives that make the transition from buzzing brains to that chilled out state a difficult process.
Fortunately, there are some initiatives we can take to mellow out the day’s chaos so it doesn’t ravage our nights, consequently bogging down our following sleep-deprived days. Meditation is one powerful remedy to quiet that active mind and calm that heart rate while achieving mental clarity.
Here’s a few ways to look at the positive effects of meditation on sleep:
1. It lowers stress.
One of the many reasons why we toss and turn at night is stressing over the day’s events, or even tomorrow. Or something you accidentally said five years ago. Too many anxious thoughts running marathons in our minds can make it difficult to power off even if your body can’t move another muscle.
Meditation can help lower cortisol, the main hormone responsible for stress. This triggers relaxation to help the body repair from its everyday mental and physical stressors.
2. It balances the nervous system.
Our nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic which keeps us alert and triggers our flight or fight response and the parasympathetic to calm it down and restore the body’s baseline levels. Both parts should ideally be working in tandem to bring balance. Meditating helps to strengthen that latter part so it can more efficiently cool us down from the triggering, inflammatory effects of the former. Think of it as your car getting a more efficient brake pedal that can take you from 60 to 0 in fewer seconds than before.
Additionally, meditation can lead to a smaller amygdala in the long run — that’s the part of your brain responsible for flight-or-fight responses. This means you won’t react to adverse events as aggressively while experiencing reductions in anxiety and depression. The fewer nights you’re ruminating about your embarrassingly angry response to someone accidentally knocking over your coffee, the easier it’ll be to sleep!
3. It slows down your breathing.
Aside from producing the relaxing effects described above, meditation also slows your breathing if you choose to incorporate controlled breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are popular with meditating performed specifically for sleep. Slowed breathing can signal to the rest of the body that it’s time to unwind, even if you feel fully awake.
4. It helps you visualize something new.
One of the reasons why meditation can be so unwinding is that a part of it often involves you visualizing that you’re somewhere else. This means you’ll be putting in conscious effort to forget about your hectic office or your messy home and instead mentally surround yourself with a lush garden, serene beach, or whatever location you associate with happiness and relaxation.
5. It increases melatonin.
Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep, so you need some of it every night. Meditation improves its synthesis in the pineal gland. Studies have found that people who meditated right before bed had higher levels of melatonin in their blood. A study showed that meditation was also associated with higher levels of that precious REM sleep.
With all these life-changing physical and emotional benefits, it’s no wonder why meditation is well-loved by many all over the world, far beyond its origins in South Asia. If you’re wondering how you can start meditating, a meditation mobile app such as Calm or Headspace can easily guide you along the way.
Once you’ve got the hang of meditating, you’ll want to bring your tired, calm self over to a mattress that’ll make it even easier to sleep. That’s where we’d like to direct your attention to Lull’s $250 off sale where you can get $250 off any size premium memory foam mattress! With a 365-night free trial, you’ve got plenty of time to see the power of both a quality mattress and meditation together to give you great sleep every time.