Meditation to Help You Sleep

Meditation to Help You Sleep

Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and when we lose out on sleep it can have lasting effects on our physical and mental health. When you are finding it hard to sleep due to outside influences such as stress, illness or chronic pain you can use meditation to help you sleep. Sleep meditations can settle a restless mind and body and help us drift off. They are a much more healthy alternative to sleeping tablets or repeated restless nights of tossing and turning.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a way to train your mind to be more aware of the present moment. We tend to get caught up in our thoughts the most at bedtime when we finally have the time and space to reflect on our day.

Meditation helps lower your heart rate which encourages slower breathing. It is a natural sleep aid as when we meditate we let go of the stresses of our day, allowing us to rest and prepare the mind for relaxation. As a result, this may increase the chance of a peaceful night’s sleep.

What is keeping us up at night?

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Being exhausted and overworked should not be a sign of success if you snooze you definitely do not lose.

We’ve all experienced nights when as soon as our head hits the pillow your mind kicks into overdrive. There are many things that keep us up at night, stress, worries, anxiety and technology all play a role in disrupting our sleep habits.

Regularly sleeping fewer than seven hours a night increases the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can cause impairments in short and long-term memory, decision making, attention and reaction time.

Why might you choose to meditate before bed?

If you have insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, meditation has been shown to improve the time it takes you to fall asleep and the quality of sleep you will enjoy.

Meditation for sleep should be approached the same way we approach meditation in the daytime with a relaxed gentle, focus. When we allow the body to relax we are not trying to force sleep but to aid relaxation. You want to stay away from encouraging more thoughts or tension within your body.

Types of meditation

Breathing exercises

This involves regulating your breath, such as counting breaths, alternating breaths and holding and letting go of your breath.

Mindful body scanning

This is often a guided meditation. As you lie on your bed, you will be asked to notice the breath and any areas of tension in your body. Then, starting from the head, you can think of releasing any tensions held in each part of your body, part by part.

Visualizations

A visualization asks you to imagine an image or scene to help release the stress or tension from within.

Counting

To slow the mind down you may be invited to count slowly: starting at 10 and counting backwards to one, then starting at 10 again.

A simple meditation exercise for bedtime

Before you begin a sleep meditation there are a few steps to take.

  1. Lie in your bed flat on your back, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes.
  2. Allow your body to be still and rested
  3. If you’re using a guided meditation, follow the instructions.
  4. If practising an unguided meditation do so at a pace that feels natural to you.

Shall we begin?

Start by scanning through your body, looking for areas of tension

Start counting your breaths, in and out.  If your mind wanders, keep bringing it back to counting your breath, one to ten. The idea is to step away from the worried thinking and give your mind a different object to concentrate on for a while so you can drift back off to sleep.

Focus on these areas of tension and imagine letting go of it, releasing it with your breath.

Begin with your head, moving slowly throughout your body, scanning for areas of tension and releasing this tension with your outward breath. Move all the way down to your toes. This process can take as long or as short as you like ideally, you could dedicate 10 minutes to this relaxation technique.

It can be hard to do this yourself, so if you are looking for help you can find guided meditation in a variety of places including YouTube, Podcasts, CDs & even on Spotify.

Remember to dedicate this time to yourself, your sleep is important and so is your health. Self-care is important and you deserve a peaceful, restful sleep1.

 

 

Meditation to Help You Sleep

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How Stress Affects your Sleep

How Stress Affects your Sleep

Stress can impact your life in many ways but how does stress affect your sleep? It’s late at night, you’re lying in bed, worrying and feeling anxious, which makes it almost impossible to turn off your brain, relax and fall asleep. People who suffer from chronic stress find they have poorer sleep quality and find it harder to function during the day.

The science of stress

When you experience a perceived threat your body’s stress response is triggered. As a result, your body will experience physical changes such as shallow breathing and a burst of energy from the release of adrenaline and cortisol. This is sometimes described as the fight or flight response, but it isn’t always the appropriate way to deal with the stresses of modern life.

How does stress affect sleep?

If you don’t sleep enough at night, your body boosts its levels of stress hormones. When you enter a deep sleep the brain chemicals tell the body to stop the production of stress hormones. As a result, when you don’t sleep well, your body keeps pumping out those stress hormones. When you wake up the next day, you feel more stressed and the following night you might find it harder to fall asleep. The more exhausted you feel, the harder it is for you to focus at work and at home, leading to even more stress. This can make you irritable with friends and family, causing stress over relationships1.

Sleep and Busy People

Busy people may have trouble getting enough sleep because being busy and not devoting 8 hours a night to sleep can trigger the stress response. This can lead to a cycle of stress and trouble falling asleep. It’s important to allow yourself 8 hours for sleep at nighttime, no matter how busy you may be.

Stress, sleep and your health

People who have high, prolonged levels of stress have a higher risk of heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, stomach issues, and more. They are also more likely to grind or clench their teeth, which can lead to dental problems. That’s why it’s so important if you feel overly tense, to try different stress relief methods and to make getting plenty of sleep a high priority2.

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What Is Insomnia?

Have you ever had long periods where you find it difficult to get to sleep? Are you often up late at night counting down the hours until you have to get up? You may be wondering if you have insomnia, but just what is insomnia and how do you overcome this common sleep disorder?

What is it?

Insomnia is a common sleep condition that causes the sufferer to experience difficulty in falling asleep or even staying asleep. People with insomnia tend to have difficulty falling asleep (onset), staying asleep (maintenance), and/or they wake up too early in the morning. Sufferers can experience sleeplessness even when there are ideal conditions for falling asleep and when they are not disturbed1.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling as if sleep was unrefreshing.
  • Experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • General lack of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mood and behaviour disturbances such as irritability, aggression, and impulsive behaviours.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Decreased performance at work or school.
  • Troubles in personal and professional relationships.
  • Decreased quality of life.
  • Depression2.

How long will it last?

Insomnia is characterized based on the length of time the sufferer experiences sleeplessness.

 Acute insomnia

This often happens because of life circumstances such as bad news, external stressors, anxiety or depression. Many people may have experienced this type of sleep disruption and will find that it tends to resolve without any treatment required.

Chronic insomnia

This is categorised by disrupted sleep that happens at least three nights a week and lasts for at least three months. There are many causes for experiencing chronic insomnia. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, shift work, other health conditions, and certain medications can all affect our sleep patterns. If you suffer from chronic insomnia you should get in touch with your doctor who can help you restore a healthy sleep pattern3.

What should I do if I think I have insomnia?

If you think you are suffering from insomnia it is important to go to your doctor. You and your doctor will need to talk about things that could impact on your sleep and your sleep history, to therefore determine the best way to help you 4.

Stuff you should know

  • Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders with approximately half of adults report having symptoms of insomnia at one point in their lives.
  • 10% of people have experienced chronic insomnia.
  • It is more likely to occur in women than in men.
  • It is more likely to affect elderly adults.
  • People who are naturally more awake and alert may be more likely to suffer.
  • If you regularly use stimulants and alcohol you may experience it more often.
  • People with poor sleep hygiene practices are more likely to experience the condition.

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What Causes Asthma at Night?

It is common for people with asthma to find coughing, wheezing and breathlessness can wake them up at night. But what causes asthma to flare up at night?

Why asthma can wake you up at night

If you haven’t got your asthma under control, you’re more likely to get symptoms at night. But what causes these symptoms?

  1. When you lie flat on your back gravity makes it harder to breathe. This position can also trigger a cough, as any mucus in your chest may start to gather in the back of your throat.
  2. Changes in hormones at night mean that natural anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body are switched off. This can cause the tissues in your lungs to swell, which narrows the airways, making it harder to breathe. Taking your anti-inflammatory preventer inhaler every day will build up protection in your lungs so they become less inflamed at night.
  3. Some common asthma triggers such as dust mites can be found in your mattress, pillows and bedclothes. Mould can also be in your bedroom if it is damp. This can affect your breathing at night. If you like sleeping with your window open, you should also be aware that on high pollen or pollution days, these particles may enter the room.

What to do when asthma stops you sleeping

  1. Sit up straight and take your blue reliever inhaler, as prescribed.
  2. Prop yourself up with extra pillows as it allows your lungs to open up more fully when you breathe.
  3. If your asthma is made worse when the air in a room is too hot or too cold. Try to adjust the temperature to make sure you’re comfortable.
  4. A glass of water or a cup of herbal tea can help ease a dry throat.

How to stop asthma waking you at night in the long-term

You shouldn’t have to accept your night-time symptoms as normal. If your asthma is waking you up during the night it is a sign that your asthma isn’t well controlled. If the situation doesn’t change within 48 hours, or if you’re already taking your preventer inhaler as prescribed, talk to your GP or asthma nurse to see if they can adjust your medicines1.

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Signs you have Asthma

Signs you have Asthma

Asthma symptoms can vary from person to person but what are the signs you have asthma? You may not experience asthma attacks often, or maybe your symptoms flare up at certain times or you may have symptoms all the time.

Asthma signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a cold or the flu

Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include:

  • Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent
  • Increasing difficulty breathing
  • The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often

For some people, asthma signs and symptoms flare up in certain situations:

  • Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
  • Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
  • Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by airborne substances, such as pollen, mould spores or pet allergy caused by pets dander 1.

When is it time to talk to my doctor?

  • Do you think you have asthma? If you have frequent coughing or wheezing or any other signs or symptoms we have covered make an appointment to see your doctor.
  • To monitor your asthma. If you know you have asthma, work with your doctor to keep it under control. Long-term control can help prevent a life-threatening asthma attack in the future.
  • If your asthma symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor right away if your symptoms have started to get worse and your normal medication isn’t helping you. Do not under any circumstances try to solve the problem by taking more medication without consulting your doctor. This can cause side effects and may make your asthma worse.
  • To review your treatment. Asthma can change over time, it’s important to touch base with your doctor to discuss your progress and current treatment options.

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