It’s the middle of the night and you can’t sleep. The more you try to go back to sleep, the more you can’t. You feel like you’re the only person awake at such a lonely hour. You check the clock again. You’re going to be so tired tomorrow. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Let begin with some sleep fact
Last year 48% of Americans were plagued by insomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation. As anyone who has gone without sleep knows, a lack of rest is an impediment to one’s productivity at work, personal happiness, and overall health. Sleep meditation can lead us through a calming exercise to ease us into rest, and also to reimagine what our sleep space can be. Take a few moments to remove the barriers to sleep and reclaim the stability of your mind. Through this careful instruction you will be lulled into a restful state and from there you will find comfortable and spacious slumber. But before starting deep sleep meditation, here some things you need know about lack of sleep.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF POOR SLEEP?
It should come as no surprise that getting a poor night’s sleep will affect your waking hours. But it’s not just about the tiredness, lack of energy and concentration. (If that wasn’t enough.) A lack of sleep has been related to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and obesity.
Research has also suggested that ‘abnormal sleeping patterns’ characterised as significantly shorter or longer sleeping periods of 7 hours was related to coronary heart disease. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, ‘there is a wealth of research indicating that people with insomnia have poorer overall health, more work absenteeism, and a higher incidence of depression’.
Why We Have to Hate About Sleep Loss
You know lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy. You may not know what it can do to your sex life, memory, health, looks, and even ability to lose weight. Here are some surprising — and serious — effects of sleep loss.
Sleepiness Causes Accidents
The Exxon Valdez spill. The Challenger explosion. The meltdown at Three Mile Island. Many of the worst disasters you can think of were caused by someone who was suffering from a lack of sleep. As bad you think sleeplessness is, it’s actually much worse.
For example, the disaster at Three Mile Island was the most catastrophic nuclear event on U.S. soil. The reactor core started to melt between 4 and 6 in the morning of March 28, 1979. The accident was caused by sleep deprivation, according to the official investigation. Cleaning up the accident cost $1 billion and completely halted nuclear power programs in the United States. Plans for reactors were canceled all over the country, and no new reactors have been built in the nation since.
But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also had more sick days per accident.
Insufficient Sleep Can Lead to Serious Health Problems
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
You can see detail on healthysleep from Harvard University
Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive
Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.
For men with sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, there may be another factor in the sexual slump. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. In the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.
Sleepiness Is Depressing
Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.
The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact,insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.
Sleepiness Ages Your Skin
Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.
“It’s during deep sleep — what we call slow-wave sleep — that growth hormone is released,” says sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair — patching the wear and tear of the day.”
Lack of Sleep Makes You Forgetful
Trying to keep your memory alive? Try getting plenty of sleep.
In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.
Lose Sleep, Gain Weight
When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,” says Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a Fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center.. “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.”
Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.
Insufficient Sleep May Increase Risk of Death
In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Insufficient Sleep Impairs Judgment
Insufficient sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.
Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.
“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it,” PhD Phil Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”
How About Mindfulness Sleep Meditation to Fall Asleep
Mindfulness-based sleep meditation has been suggested to help with many of the issues that stop us sleeping.
For example, the Stanford Medical Centre undertook a pilot study to investigate whether a combined 6 week programme of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy could improve the sleep of 30 insomniacs.
Following the mindfulness course, the insomniacs got to sleep twice as quickly as before, taking 20 minutes as opposed to 40 minutes. At the end of the study, approximately 60% of the participants no longer qualified as insomniacs. In a follow up study, 12 months later, they found the majority of benefits had remained.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School developed an effective sleep therapy that incorporated meditation as an integral component.
In a non-controlled study of 102 insomniacs, 58% reported significant improvements and 91% of those using medication either reduced their dose or eliminated its use completely. Six months later 60% of respondents said the benefits had been maintained7.
David Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, and director of the American Mindfulness Research Association, explains, “Mindfulness practice is recognized by the National Institutes of Health, and is considered an integrative health approach rather than an alternative approach.” This means that mindfulness is no longer considered something to be used in place of conventional medicine; rather, it is frequently incorporated into mainstream healthcare in a coordinated way.
A new study authored by Black showed significant improvements in sleep quality, insomnia, and fatigue among older adults who received mindfulness meditation instruction, compared to the control group receiving sleep hygiene instruction.
Stress reduction is one avenue by which mindfulness may support sleep.
A Carnegie Mellon University study recently found that people who received mindfulness training reported feeling less stress than the control group when completing complex speech and math tasks.
Of the findings, J. David Creswell, Ph.D., study author and assistant professor in psychology at CMU says, “It is well-known that stress triggers many different types of sleep difficulties, and here we provide some initial evidence that mindfulness training may help individuals manage stress more effectively for better sleep.”
Mindfulness meditation may also help provide pain relief by increasing cognitive and emotional control and changing appraisal and evaluation of sensory input. Mitigating pain could prove helpful for rest, as the 2015 Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 57% of Americans regularly experience pain. Polls associated both acute and chronic pain with poorer sleep quality, less sleep, and more fatigue.
Steven Hickman, Psy.D., director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, says, “Often what keeps people up is rumination, going over and over things that they have no control over. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective at reducing rumination, meaning people experience less mind wandering and more focused attention. People that practice mindfulness meditation may find that they can more easily drop out of the rumination loop, relax, and sleep.”
The study, which appears in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Both groups met six times, once a week for two hours. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.
The findings come as no surprise to Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson.
The relaxation response, a term he coined in the 1970s, is a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress, says Dr. Benson.
Night Time Meditation for Sleep and Relaxation
You may not be sleeping well in the night. Very few people are sleeping well, so when you have not slept well in the night you are a little tired during the day. If that is the case, then do something with your sleep. It should be made deeper. Time is not much of a question – you can sleep for eight hours, and if it is not deep you will feel hungry for sleep, starved – depth is the question.
To elicit the relaxation response, try these two simple steps:
Step 1: Choose a calming focus. Good examples are your breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale.
Step 2: Let go and relax. Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.
Then just simply lie down and go to sleep. Your sleep will become deeper. Within weeks you will feel a depth in your sleep, and in the morning you will feel completely fresh.
Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep
Through Body Scan guided meditation your muscles will relax, your breathing will become slow and deep, and your common daily thoughts will be replaced with rich dreamlike imagery. Learn the simple skills of this guided meditation to enter deep restful sleep. Many factors can influence sleep including, diet, exercise, and stress. This guided meditation offers one of these important factors that will lead to sound sleep.
Use this guided meditation each evening to help you fall asleep. Learn the three skills of muscle relaxation, sympathetic breathing, and replacing daily thoughts for dreamlike imagery. Repeat these three inner skills until you fall asleep. With practice you may find yourself returning to familiar dreamlike imagery to cultivate the inner experience of sleep.
For more detail about meditation, you can take a look what is meditation or any other types of meditation such as metta meditation and body scan meditation. They can help you to relax and enjoy to sleep!
If you made it this far, I want to thank you for reading my words. You clearly have an interest in meditation and I honestly believe it is one of most beautiful gifts we can give ourselves and others.
Every time you take a moment to sit, you show the world how courageous you are and that you are not afraid to take the whole universe into your comfort zone.