There is no dearth of information when it comes to the clinical significance of adding meditation or mindfulness to your routine if you deal with insomnia or trouble falling asleep. A study from UCLA’s School of Medicine reported that those who practiced mindfulness meditation reported less fatigue, insomnia and depression than their counterparts. It may seem that the only role meditation plays is that of a stress reducer, when in reality, there’s more to this calming practice. Believe it or not, even the National Sleep Foundation has joined in and elaborated on the importance of including a daily meditation practice. The most crucial unknown scientific facts about treating insomnia with meditation are that clinical data suggests that meditation is the only practice that can have an impact on the various (alpha, delta and theta) brainwaves resulting in deep sleep and therefore, prevention of insomnia. Additionally, in present times, it has been found that exposure to incessant amounts of screen time can lower the production of melatonin — the infamous sleep-producing hormone. Meditation has been shown to boost levels of melatonin, thus, inducing a sense of calm and rebooting the sleep cycle.
One of the oldest forms of sleep meditation is called the Yoga Nidra, a practice followed by Auyrvedic medicine (oldest form of medicine in the world). Follow these simple tips to catch some much-needed shut-eye.
- Lie down comfortably, making sure you have something to keep the body warm such as a blanket (try a weighted blanket if you wish to do so).
- Scan your body mentally and notice the sensations you experience. The idea here is to intentionally relax your tensed muscles by paying attention to the entire body and how you may feel.
- Start to breathe in for a count of four, hold the air in your nose for a count of four, and finally release over a count of four. Continue to breathe as such until your eyelids start to feel heavy and the body enters deep relaxation.
- If your brain feels distracted with thoughts, do not fight it — gently guide your awareness back to your breathing and before you know it, you would have entered a state of deep relaxation and sleep.
Dr. Suman Ahuja completed her education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and at Texas Tech. She has a a doctorate in Clinical Nutrition with an emphasis on obesity treatment and prevention.