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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The Ultimate Guide to Clean Sleeping

The Ultimate Guide to Clean Sleeping

What is Clean Sleeping?

We all know it’s important to look after our health.

We know to eat right, exercise regularly and look after our skin, but how much effort do we put into our sleep?

Clean Sleeping is brought to us by Goop creator Gwyneth Paltrow in her latest book, Clean Beauty. It focuses on treating sleep with the same care and attention that we do our diet or skin, making it a priority above all else.

Some of Goop’s practises and claims have been known to raise eyebrows in the past. However, the concept of clean sleeping focuses mainly on achieving a good sleep routine, cutting out caffeine and allowing yourself to switch off.

With the added health and beauty benefits, what have we got to lose from giving it a go?

Top Tips for Clean Sleep

 

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep a night (ideally nine or 10)

    The lifestyle I lead is based not just on clean eating, but also on clean sleeping: at least seven or eight hours of good, quality sleep — and ideally even ten.1 Gwyneth explained in her article with the Daily Mail. Nine to ten is unrealistic for many of us, aiming towards eight hours of sleep per night would be a start.

 

  • Steer clear of stimulants after 2pm

    Reduce your intake of stimulants throughout the day, especially caffeine and refined sugars. It’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee during your 3pm slump but don’t use caffeine as a substitute for food.

 

  • Keep the same sleep routine

    Get your body into a good sleep routine and go to bed at the same time every night. Gwyneth recommends at 10pm, but this may seem a little early for you. Focus on finding a time that suits you and stick to it2. You’ll be able to fall asleep easier and your circadian rhythm (your body clock) will also be on the same page.

 

  • Say no to your smart phone 90 minutes before you get into bed

    Poetically put as an ‘Electrical sundown,’ banning your screens from the bedroom can aid a more restful sleep. Your screens emit a blue light that increases stimulation and delays your circadian rhythm3. Power down at least 90 minutes before bed. Ensure your bedroom is tech free and create a sanctuary free from emails, social media notifications and the daily stresses of modern life. Learn more about how to regulate your circadian rhythm here.

 

  • Ban snacks at bedtime and keep a 12-hour fasting window in your day

    Say goodbye to midnight feasts. Goop Detox expert Dr Alejandro Junger recommends keeping a regular 12 hour fasting window between dinner and breakfast. He states that your body doesn’t slip into detox mode until about eight hours after your last meal and that it needs about four more hours of undisturbed sleep to detox properly4.

 

  • Meditate, meditate, meditate!

    In her article, Paltrow recommends ‘Yoga Nidra’ or psychic sleeping. This is a form of meditation that simulates the qualities of sleep while the body is still awake. This meditation focuses on each body part separately, in a circular motion. For example, focusing on your fingers, palm, wrist, forearm etc. all the way around the head, other arm and legs. It is supposed to put your brain into a state of near-sleep. Once mastered, this can be extremely relaxing, but you will need to practise to feel the full effects.

 

  • Relax with a trigger point massage

    This is all about relaxing and preparing yourself for sleep and Paltrow believes trigger point massages are key. Although it may not be attainable to keep this up every night you can always try it on a weekly basis or for when you are stressed. Simply give yourself a gentle head massage, targeting the pressure points on the back of your head. These are located approx. five fingers from the back of your ear at the base of your skull. You will feel a deep and a tender point at the right spot5. Massage this area in a circular motion for maximum release. Alternatively, you could give yourself a relaxing foot massage.

 

  • Copper

    Paltrow recommends investing in a copper pillowcase to combat wrinkles but there are other less costly alternatives. Silver Ions boast the same benefits and are also hypoallergenic and eczema friendly. At SlumberSlumber we have a silver ion infused memory foam pillow. It is anti-bacterial offering you a much fresher and healthier night’s sleep. We also have a variety of natural materials that can aid your sleep and take care of your skin. From silk, organic cotton to bamboo, discover our range of materials here.

We at SlumberSlumber welcome anything that helps give you a more restful sleep. Clean sleeping’s strict rules might not be for everyone but taking away some handy tips can really make a difference. Creating a peaceful sleeping environment, allowing yourself to shut off and steering clear of caffeine can all help us get as much as we can out of our forty winks.

 

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Sleep and Fibromyalgia

Sleep and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia’s impact on sleep

Sleep and fibromyalgia don’t go well together.

Sleep disturbances are very common for sufferers of the condition. While they may not have difficulty falling asleep, their sleep is likely to be light and easily disturbed so when they wake up they feel exhausted or unrested. These sleep disturbances can cause the feeling of constant fatigue and prevent the body from rejuvenation, which in turn leads to increased pain1.

The severe pain of this condition also means it is difficult to sleep. Research shows that the body has a lower tolerance to pain and discomfort with lack of sleep. Fibromyalgia patients must make every effort to minimise sleep disturbance.

Tips for creating a regular sleep routine:

  • Set fixed times for going to bed and waking up
  • Maintain a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Only retire to bed when you feel tired
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  • Avoid eating heavy meals late at night

 

How to create the best sleeping environment:

  • Use thick blinds/blackout blinds or wear an eye mask to keep out early morning light or street lamps
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom
  • Use earplugs if there is any noise disturbance
  • Avoid using laptops, watching television, eating, making phone calls or working while you’re in bed
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding suitable for the time of year

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What should I do if my child is wetting the bed?

What should I do if my child is wetting the bed?

Firstly, don’t panic. Bed wetting is extremely common in children and many will grow out of it over time.

The medical name for bed wetting is nocturnal enuresis and describes a condition where a person passes urine during the night and is most prevalent in children.

What is causing my child’s bed-wetting?

There’s not always an obvious reason as to why your child is wetting the bed but it’s worth trying to identify the problem if you can. Here are some reasons to consider:

  • A child’s urinary bladder doesn’t have the strength to hold urine throughout the night
  • Urine production in a child is high at night
  • Suffering from emotional problems, such as stress or anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Sweet foods at night
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diabetes
  • The child may not have been toilet trained yet
  • Excessive fluid intake throughout the evening
  • Delayed bladder maturation – lack of coordination between the bladder and the brain

Top tips to help your child stop bed wetting

Reward dry nights

Encouragement is key. Firstly encourage your child to empty their bladder before they get in to bed. Whenever your child doesn’t wet the bed encourage them by saying they are improving, they are growing up and that they are very good. Building up their confidence is an important step to combatting the problem.

Wake up your child

At night wake them up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep so they can go to the toilet and again early in the morning. Restrict excessive drink intake after 7pm.

Delay urination during the day

When your child needs the toilet in the day, it’s recommended that you distract them for a couple of minutes so that they have to wait. Eventually, your child will learn to control their bladder better.

Counselling

Counselling forms the main part of the treatment, as it’s essential that your child is assured that many other children also wet the bed but it’s only temporary.  Anxiety and feelings of guilt around the problem can make bed wetting worse.

Keeping your child dry at night

A simple measure you can take is to ensure that your child’s bed has a waterproof mattress cover or pad and pillow protectors. Find more about bedding options here.

If your child wets the bed, ask them to help you change the sheets. By doing this you can help them take responsibility for the bed wetting, as well as making them feel part of the solution rather than the problem.

It’s also a good idea to check whether your child is suffering from constipation, as this puts further pressure on the bladder. Bladder instability can cause night and day time accidents. If you do notice that your child isn’t having a daily bowel movement, increase their fluid and fibre intake. Apple juice, fruits, vegetables and whole grains greatly lower the risk of constipation.

If your child is over the age of five and is still frequently wetting the bed, it’s advised that you visit your doctor.

ERIC

Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC) is a UK-based charity for people affected by bed wetting. The charity’s website provides useful information and advice for both children and parents.

For more information about bed-wetting visit our Sleep Clinic.

 

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