Mindfulness: Meditation techniques to sleep better

Mindfulness to sleep better

Mindfulness is one of the techniques used in psychology that has penetrated the deepest in our society. It has been brought into the world of work, the academic world and, of course, the clinical world. The reason is, without a doubt, the multiple benefits demonstrated by science. However, there is one that is rarely talked about and, paradoxical as it may seem, it is one of the most important. We are talking about the importance of mindfulness to sleep better, since a true rest is the basis of good health.

Sleeping problems

Sleep-related problems affect millions of people around the world. From simple worries that prevent us from falling asleep, to more serious insomnia problems. That is why the large pharmaceutical corporations rub their hands selling different types of hypnotics (mainly benzodiazepines) to inoculate an artificial sleep that in the long run is more harmful than beneficial. The problems that we can find with these treatments are the following:

  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Headaches
  • Severe dependency
  • Loss of efficacy over time, with the consequent increase in dose.
  • Weight gain

However, in this article we are going to present you, on the one hand, the scientific evidence that supports mindfulness as a technique to improve sleep and rest, and on the other a small final exercise for you to put into practice yourself..

Study on mindfulness and sleep quality

A study published by the Jama Internal Medicine in 2015 (1), divided a sample of adults with sleep problems into two groups. The first group completed a comprehensive mindfulness program, focusing on living in the present moment, dealing with "problems" rather than worrying about them. They performed various exercises endorsed by the most prestigious mindfulness programs, such as attention to breathing.

The other group received a course on education and healthy habits to fall asleep, for which they counted (like the previous group) 6 weeks of training. A not inconsiderable figure to be able to measure the results.

Once the test period was over, the second group barely improved their symptoms while it was found that the group that had received mindfulness training significantly reduced their levels of:

  • Insomnia
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Depression

The results demonstrated the effect called "relaxation response " which is exactly the opposite of the response our body offers to stress. The relaxation response can help alleviate many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and hypertension. For many people, sleep disorders are closely related to stress. From what the study shows we can practice mindfulness to sleep better and, at the same time, improve our health with a few minutes a day of practice.

The study authors recommend practicing some meditation exercise during the day, with just 20 or 30 minutes is enough. The idea is to get a reflection to more easily create a feeling of relaxation. In this way, it is easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when sleep problems occur and one cannot sleep. In fact, the relaxation response "per se " can induce sleep while you practice meditation, so it is important to practice these exercises during the day and with energy. If despite this the relaxation is so deep as to fall asleep, you can also practice other techniques such as yoga or tai chi, which include more movement and, whose basis is also mindfulness.

Article index

  • Attention to Breathing Exercise
  • The long-term results of Mindfulness

Attention to Breathing Exercise

This exercise is the basis of mindfulness. In Buddhist traditions, it is explained that it was even the favorite exercise of the Buddha (Sidharta Gautama). Today we can simplify it into a simple half-hour exercise, which will give us wonderful results. By the way, there are many applications for our phones that will warn us, remind us and help us when it comes to practicing. I recommend you Meditation Helper for Android or Insight Time for iOS. Both have free versions to control the time with relaxing sounds.

First we sit up straight, It can be in a chair with the arms resting gently on the legs or on a cushion with the legs tucked comfortably and the hands in the lap. In both cases we leave the gaze inclined about 45º without fixing it in any particular point and the chin retracted.

The long-term results of Mindfulness

Subsequently we will begin to attend to our breathing, which (and this is very important) we should not try to control. Just let her act, sometimes we will take deeper breaths and others lighter, our mission is simply to realize it. We will also notice the natural pauses that are created between inspiration and expiration. All of this is part of breathing.

Following thoughts will begin to appear in our minds

...

don't worry, let them pass. Do not try to catch them, they will soon surprise you as they appear, they disappear. If at some point, you've gotten lost in a chain of thoughts, when you come back from this "reverie " do not worry, just return to the attention to the breath. Don't blame yourself for being distracted, that's the exercise. Like a muscle you work in the gym doing repetitions, our mindfulness will develop returning from those thoughts that trap us. Every time you fall for their nets, smile and start over.

After the 20 or 30 minute session, try to be quiet for a few more minutes while stretching. So you will still feel the honey of this ancient practice for longer. There are also people to whom it helps to direct a prayer to their loved ones.

By doing this exercise, after a single month you will already be able to feel the benefits. And not only in terms of improving sleep, scientific studies have shown other qualities in other areas. Here is a list with the author and the year of the study so that you can consult it:

  • Depression (Teasdale 2000)
  • Secondary anxiety (Kabat-Zinn 1992). (Millar 1995)
  • Chronic Pain (Kabat-Zinn 1982-85). (Kabat-Zinn 1987)
  • Hypertension (Schneider 1995, Linden & Chambers 1994, Alexander 1994)
  • Coronary heart disease (Linden 1996, Zammara 1996). (Zammara 1996, Ornish 1983)
  • Cancer (Speca 2000). (Carlson 2001). (Fawzy 1993, Speigal 1989) (Bridge 1998). (Green 1991)
  • Fibromyalgia (Kaplan 1993, Goldenberg 1994, Weissbecker 2002)
  • Type I diabetes (McGrady 1991)
  • Asthma / Respiratory Disorders: (Devine 1996)
  • Psoriasis (Kabat-Zinn 1998)
  • Headaches (Anastasio, 1987)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (Mills 2000)

To learn more about mindfulness and meditation, you can visit the website //meditacionypsicologia.com/

References:

//media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/mindfulness-meditation-appears-to-help-improve-sleep-quality/

Interactions with readers

Comments

  1. in barcelona it says

    09/24/2020 at 3:50 pm

    Great contribution to your blog, better than it can be read is impossible, without technicalities or oddities, thanks for your contribution

    Answer

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