Several generations ago, sleep problems may never have been an issue. Why? Because people lead a life that was not moving at the pace as it is now. With the onset of technology making the basic aspects of life comfortable, information being available at the press of a button, and the idea of getting more and more done puts incredible pressure on time. The pressure to perform at work or getting things done at a fast pace seems to be the order of the day. People are unwittingly shortchanging themselves on much needed rest as a result of the hectic pace. Too much time on electronics and other devices – which emit green/blue lights known to neutralize melatonin levels – has also contributed to sleep disorders, which were unheard of before. In 2014 alone, people have spent 58 billion globally on sleep aids, which is projected to increase to 76 billion in 2019.
Failing to get restful sleep on a regular basis can adversely impact health and longevity. According to sleep specialists, a number of bodily functions – like heart, lungs, metabolism, appetite and weight control, immune function, disease resistance, brain function, mood etc are negatively impacted by inadequate sleep. Everyone experiences difficulty sleeping once in a while, but if trouble falling asleep becomes a frequent phenomenon, it can become a debilitating experience, taking a huge toll on energy levels, memory/concentration function, productivity etc.
Sleep is the way for the body and mind to rest and be ready for activity. Research shows that adults function best when they sleep 7 – 9 hours per night. However many people report difficultly falling and staying asleep. Healthy sleep translates to quality of sleep rather than quantity of sleep. It is the restfulness that brings about deep sleep, which is much needed for rejuvenation of the body, mind and spirit.
Therefore, sleep disorder should not be left untreated. While there are medications that one can take to better manage the sleep cycles, it is best to fall asleep the natural way. A simple and unobtrusive method that one can try is sleep meditation. It is a natural approach to achieving rejuvenating sleep and waking up feeling refreshed and recharged. A 2015 study by Harvard Medical School shows that meditation for sleep – a mind calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment – can be powerful solution for sleep disorders.
With the hectic lifestyle, it is very easy to get caught up in the incessant thought process throughout the day. Although this activity is going on at all time, one becomes aware of it at bedtime, because everything is quiet. Restful sleep depends on having relaxed and rested mind. Meditation in general produces a deeply restful state. Introducing meditation right before sleeping helps relax the body and calm the mind, and can help one fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. It enhances the brainwaves that boosts relaxation and sleep. One of the objectives of sleep meditation is to move the mind from stressful to a more peaceful state by keeping the attention on the present. Research shows that regular meditation especially before bedtime helps regulate melatonin (a hormone produced by pineal gland that controls sleep and wakefulness) and quieten down the mind that can sleep at ease.
However, there is no magic pill for good sleep. Sleep meditation is a wonderful start, but developing good sleep habits – daily routine, good diet, physical activity etc – and having a conducive bedroom ambiance is also important.