So if you’re just waking up, today is National Sleep Day, as I’m sure nobody in the world knows! How is that a thing? (#JohnOliver anyone?). Jokes aside, sleep is sort of important. Ok, sleep is more than that. It is a fundamental human activity that takes up at least a quarter of our lives. The headspace blog tells me that a lack of sleep negatively alters a part of the brain called the amygdala (a·myg·da·la). It's the part of your brain that triggers a fight-or-flight response. Consistent meditation has been shown to reduce the size and activity of the amygdala. So, calming your mind might be your first step toward a good night’s sleep. Also, just quietly --> poor sleep over time can increase the likelihood of weight gain, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorders, and even a shorter lifespan. Pretty intense yeah?
I have historically been an average sleeper, mostly due to poor rituals before bed. I didn’t know rituals needed to be performed before bed. For me, the main things that kept me awake longer than necessary were:
Drinking water too close to sleep time
Phone in bed
Endless stream of thoughts
The first three are pretty self explanatory and relatively avoidable with some practice (ok not the phone...or the alcohol, but the other one). The last one however can be extremely difficult to avoid depending on what’s going on in your life. Work, relationships, breakfast, lunch, dinner, errands, march madness, breakfast. It’s a never ending stream of thoughts that our minds dart effortlessly between. Even a short 10 minute meditation before sleep where your mind settles a touch can help to knock you out quicker.
This is how I got into the habit of a daily practice in the first place. After only a few days of listening to various meditations, I was able to fall asleep in under 15 minutes (I rarely got to the end of the videos I was listening to, so I know). Not only that, I was sleeping in a much deeper state (less waking up in the middle of the night) and it was an enjoyable, blissful experience that I looked forward to every day.
This is the easiest way to see a huge life benefit from meditation at an early stage in the journey. Most people will do a meditation or two for 5 minutes and can be discouraged by no immediate results. Try this before bed time for a few days in a row and let me know how it went!
Link below for what I’m currently listening to before bed. I dare you try it and make it to the end without falling asleep! I have no affiliation with that channel, just something I stumbled upon. I still do this every day, and really look forward to the 10-20 minutes of stillness and calm before the 8 hours of restful sleep (ideally!).
Happy National Sleep Day :D