10 Apr Meditate Your Way to a Great Night’s Sleep
Are you one of the lucky ones who can fall asleep as soon as your heads hits the pillow?
Well then, perhaps you’re one of those who just can’t switch off when you’re supposed to be falling asleep?
You tell yourself that tonight you won’t give in to watching a screen blare images and sounds at you until your eyelids droop. But at some point in the night you wake up with the end credits of the movie rolling or to find that autoplay has landed on something quite weird and obscure, confusing you until you realize that, no, you’re not in the middle of an alien invasion. You close the screen and push your laptop or phone out of the way while you dust off the crumbs of whatever you might have been snacking on, or you begrudgingly get up to switch the lights off because you fell asleep with them on… again, or perhaps you shuffle your feet to the bedroom in a stupor as you’ve fallen asleep on the sofa in front of the TV… again, only to have to wake up in a few hours and be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next day ahead. And that morning coffee that used to do the trick, doesn’t quite cut it anymore, so more caffeine down the hatch all day, leading to a poorer sleep at night.
Why this madness night after night? Because anything, absolutely anything is better than lying in bed with thought after thought, plan after plan, worry after worry invading what is supposed to be your personal, peaceful time to wind down and switch off.
I won’t go into the science of the different states of sleep and their effects on the mind and body, there are plenty of books on the subject and I don’t want to bore you to sleep… well maybe! Just kidding.
Plus, we all know the benefits of a regular, good night’s sleep, from making you more efficient to improving your physical and mental health, curing depressive states, and helping you reach new heights, and unleash your full potential. The benefits are truly endless.
So, how can you switch off that manic machine of a mind and get a great night’s sleep, every single night?
Some physical exertion is needed almost every day to make the body tired enough to slip into a natural sleep. Even if it’s a walk, get up and get moving, especially if your work makes you sit stagnant for most of the day.
2. CLEAR THE CLUTTER
A great way to ease you into that calming space of the mind is to clear the clutter outside and inside.
- Outside — Tidy any clutter in and around your bedroom/sleeping space. Keep it clean and smelling fresh, like a sanctuary. You’ll feel the calm envelop you in no time.
- Inside — Make a list of all the things on your mind that you need to get done the next day etc. Writing it all down means you won’t be panicking yourself remembering random things at night. It’s all written down, so take it easy, it will be taken care of. Less for you to be thinking about at night.
3. WIND DOWN RITUAL
Just like little babies, we respond well to routines as big babies too. Once you’ve finished everything you need to do for the day, try and stick to the same wind-down rituals every evening. It might be as simple as taking a shower, cleaning your teeth, and slipping into your pajamas. Once you’ve done that, no more distractions. Don’t do anything else. Get straight into bed. Definitely no screen time for at least 40 minutes before bed. Aim to get into bed ready for sleep at the same time every night.
Meditation, absolutely, without fail, is going to be your number one go to when you find yourself in bed and your body is tired but you feel restless, not quite ready to fall asleep yet. Before you reach for your device or even a book to ‘lull’ you to sleep, here’s what you do.
- Sleep on your right
An ancient secret that Buddhist monks practice is to fall asleep lying on their right side. Why? Here’s some awesome, mystical science: We have two particular energy channels in our body, a lunar channel and a solar channel. Lying on the right activates the lunar channel which is cooling and this helps to calm the mind. The solar channel, activated while lying on the left, on the other hand generates heat and makes one feel more restless. So, if you usually fall asleep on your left side or your back, try shifting to your right and see if it makes a difference.
- Quick visualization
Another way of clearing the clutter once you’re in bed and lying on your right side is to do a quick, mental recap of your day, starting from the moment you woke up that morning to the things you did throughout the day. Don’t give any particular importance to anything that happened, just scan through the day’s activities right up to getting ready for bed and getting into bed, then take a few deep breaths and find yourself right in the present moment. You’ve been through your day already so no need for those thoughts to come in again while you fall asleep now.
- Listen to your breath
This is the most important part of your sleep meditation. Once you’ve cleared all the clutter and you’ve wound down, lying cozily on your right side, don’t allow stray thoughts to come and sully the peace and quiet that you thoroughly deserve right now. Your only focus is the breath. Don’t ‘try’ to fall asleep, that will only make you feel more restless. Just be aware of every breath coming in and going out. If the mind wanders off into thoughts, gently bring your attention back to the breath. Eventually you’ll fall asleep.
In the beginning it might take you 30 to 40 minutes or even longer, or you might surprise yourself and doze off within a few breaths. Either way, the more you practice this, the more accustomed your mind will become to slipping into a sweet, natural slumber.
Such a simple thing as sleep, that we take for granted, can be life changing if we get it right.
I wish you a sweet sleep and even sweeter dreams tonight!
By Kuroi Hanna