Do you have trouble going to sleep? Do you get stressed about not being able to sleep? And do you sometimes even find yourself getting stressed over being stressed because you can’t sleep?You’re by no means alone if you sometimes struggle with falling or staying asleep. About 30 percent of people have difficulty with sleeping at any one time. And pretty much everyone will experience periods of sleeplessness at some stage in life. Usually, these bouts of reduced sleep correspond to levels of stress.But in the same way that stress can lead to poor sleep, poor sleep can contribute to stress. It is this negative loop that can so quickly spin out of control and is ultimately responsible for insomnia: you can’t sleep, which causes you to worry and that, in turn, prevents you from sleeping and so on. This just underlines the importance of maintaining a healthy mind and a healthy relationship with the thoughts and feelings that appear in the mind.Although you can’t possibly control all of the thoughts and feelings that arise in your mind, you can definitely be responsible for the way you experience them. So do you react, getting frustrated, worried or downhearted? Or do you respond with a sense of ease, awareness and acceptance?Your familiarity with mindfulness and your ability to step back and observe the thoughts and emotions a little more clearly will be critical in turning a ‘reaction’ into a ‘response.’ And this is exactly what you are training your mind to do when you sit and meditate. So it’s no coincidence that meditation has been found to have such a positive effect on insomnia.I’ve included an entire chapter on the relationship between meditation and sleep in my book Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day — and even have a downloadable exercise that can help you to develop this ability to step back and observe, rather than getting caught up in the different thoughts and feelings.
Looking to get some extra zzzzs tonight? Have a listen to this specially-recorded sleep podcast below.