Sleep is a fundamental need in order for our bodies to function properly, however, studies show the average adult is not getting the appropriate amount of sleep per night. The short term and long-term effects of sleep deprivation include: reduction in performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms, weight gain, and overall reduction in quality of life. This TED-Ed video explains other relative detrimental effects sleep deprivation has on the body.
Implementing mindfulness meditation into your night habit helps you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Here are some ways to start!
Eliminate technology at least 30 minutes before bedtime. It has been proven that the blue light from our phones and tablets disrupt our sleep inducing hormone, melatonin, causing us to not sleep properly. Turning off electronics at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed, reduces this disruption.
Turn off lights and lay down. Turing off your lights in your bedroom does signal the body that bedtime is near and gets you prepared for sleep.
Close your eyes and start breathing. This is the basic principle of mindfulness meditation and will lead you into the next step.
Let go of your thoughts by focusing on your breathing. It is a basic human characteristic to think and let our minds guide us to thoughts. This will not change even if you have practiced mindfulness meditation for years. The main thing you must remember is to acknowledge your thoughts and let them go without judgement. Whenever a thought comes into your head, let it pass and focus on your breathing. Once you keep doing this, it will become easier to let thoughts come and go without putting a feeling towards it.
Shift your attention to sensations in your body. This is called a body scan and all you are simply doing is focusing your awareness to the different parts of your body. You can either start with your head and then slowly move to down to your feet or start with your feet and work your way up. Basically notice the temperature, the pressure of the blanket on your legs or feet or maybe even the coolness of your heels.
Try listening to guided meditations. This will introduce you to mindfulness meditation and help you to fall asleep as well. Mindful.org has a great article about mindfulness and sleep as well as an audio guided meditation as well!
Falling asleep and staying asleep is a challenge these days but if you change your night habits to exclude technology and include mindfulness, you can get the best sleep of your life every night! Do your body a favor and get some shut eye!