Prepare to toss out your sleep aids, because your greatest tool to relieve insomnia starts in your mind. Better sleep can begin tonight and continue to improve each night in the future, as you practice regular meditation.
A 2009 American Academy of Sleep Medicine study, which defined insomnia as a 24-hour problem of hyper arousal, documented improvements in sleep quality and efficiency in patients practicing meditation. And a 2005 article published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy argued that mindfulness may hone the skill of cognitive deactivation—basically taking your mind offline, which is essential for sleep.
Both day and evening meditation prepares your body and mind for restful sleep, and the benefits of your practice increase over time. “Just taking a quiet space once or twice a day, giving your mind time to be still, has an accumulative effect,” says Deb Shapiro, meditation expert and co-author (with husband Ed Shapiro) of "Be the Change." With regular meditation, it will become easier to settle your thoughts and ease your mind into a restful state each evening.
How to start: Ed Shapiro recommends Inner Conscious Relaxation. When you’re ready to sleep, lie on your back in bed with your palms facing down, to center your body. Begin by focusing only on your breath for a few moments. Visualize each part of your body relaxing as you repeat an affirmation: ‘I am at ease. I am peaceful. I am ready to sleep.’ If your mind drifts, bring it back to your practice, says Shapiro. If needed, repeat your progressive relaxation routine until you fall asleep.
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