Are you having troubles with sleep?
Can’t seem to fall into that sweet abode of silent serenity?
Do you want to?
Of course you do.
Here are a handful of meditative tips infused with mindfulness to help you do precisely that. (That is when it’s the right time of course and not when you’re on your way driving your car to work!)
1. Shut down all electronics
Well this one isn’t exactly rocket science but it really works. Shutting down everything electronic things that distracts and is too bright for your eyes is one of the best things to do before a good night’s sleep, a short digital detox if you will. A shutdown of everything that isn’t necessary to the proper functioning of your household.
Here’s how you do it:
- Try switching everything off at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime
- Keep computers, the TV and tablets away from the bedroom.
- If you use the alarm in your smartphone, install an app that keeps you locked out of the internet for 8 hours.
- Read, write, self-massage or meditate the last hour of the day.
Abstaining from digital technology and bright electronics is not only a good thing for your sleep rhythm and the hormones in your body, but also an exercise in lessening your attachment to those “things”. Those electronic devices which our society is so infatuated with today. This is a great exercise in mindfulness and self-control in and of itself.
2. Spontaneous writings
Do you feel that your brain is filled with the hustle and bustle of a thousand thoughts? If you do, you’re not alone. Like most people you probably carry around with you a fat bundle of loosely related ideas, concepts and thoughts that roam around your mind and imagination.
This can and often does result in many sleepless nights.
One way to deal with this overflowing of mental noise is to simply write them down. If you have a journal or a diary, great!
Writing creatively and spontaneously can really help in lessening the pressure of our constantly active brain. By concretely naming those things that occupy your mind, whether small things or big, you can more easily let them dissipate into silence. This can in turn lead to better sleep habits. Try it out!
3. Paint/write with water
While we’re on the topic of creative expression, one unique and highly therapeutic way to improve your sleep, is to get a buddha board with which you can write/paint with water.
Yep you heard it right, writing with water! Writing with water as an casual and symbolic activity is quite meditative. Since the water only last a couple of minutes before turning into vapour, the impermanence of life is revealed. Impermanence being one of the three marks of existence in Buddhism.
Now if you decided to paint with water on your buddha board for 5+ minutes each night before bedtime, this will most definitely prime yourself for a better night’s sleep.
4. An exercise in gratitude
You might be wondering, what has gratitude to do with better sleep?
Well in a way, nothing really.
Though from another, deeper perspective, being grateful towards life and in this case more specifically your warm home, room and bed is a beautiful meditation in and of itself, which in turn can relieve you from redundant overthinking.
How to do it?
Simply take up the mantra/sentence: “Thank you”. You can walk around your home just silently voicing thank you, or simply say it internally in the privacy of your own mind. Go then especially to your bed, and thank your bed for being there for you, caring for you, considering how the world outside can be so harsh and cold sometimes. Thank the bed and then lie down and sleep serenely.
That being said, by regularly practicing gratitude towards existence, you can indirectly allow for healthier sleep patterns and not to mention an enriched spiritual life.
5. Do some yoga and stretching
If the problem isn’t so much related to the chattiness of your mind but more to the physical state of your body, i.e. discomforts, tensions and the like, well then some yoga poses (asanas), can be ideal to perform before bed.
An important thing to keep in mind is to avoid making it into an exercise session, meaning, let it be light and not overly intensive. We don’t want the body to become overly active right before bed.
Relaxing yoga and stretching poses can help you immensely, both body and mind.
6. Try some self-massage
In addition to stretching, mindful self-massage can do wonders to relax and relieve tightness, tensions and stress in the body. When you treat the body, the mind naturally relaxes. A couple of self-massaging techniques to try is holding, feathering, light and deep stroking, kneading and tapping to name a few.
A self-massage session that lasts 20-30 minutes right before bedtime is what we recommend.
7. Do a body scan
We’ve talked about the mindful body scan technique when discussing how to stay calm in distressing situations or when relaxing ones face. But this technique is perhaps even more effective when applied to relaxation of the entire body right before sleep, in the comfort of your bed.
The body scan technique is essentially performed by scanning every body part with your mind’s eye. That is, you direct your attention to different body parts in a sequential order. One good way is to start from the toes, to the feet, legs, calves, buttocks, stomach, pecs, shoulders, neck, head and well you get the point.
8. Pay attention to your breath (vipassana)
Vipassana meditation, also known as insight meditation, is a very simple yet powerful meditation technique. It is, according to tradition, the same meditation technique that the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) proposed as a vehicle towards enlightenment. Even though that isn’t our goal of today, or is it? Read more about conscious sleep here.
Back to the point, one version of this ancient Buddhist meditation consists of simply paying attention to your breath, without trying to manipulate it in any way, but being aware of the natural workings, the ebbs and tides, the seasonal nature of your breathing.
This exercise itself is very effective in subduing the mind’s constant chatter. You can do it anytime during the day, including nighttime right before the night lulls you to sleep!
9. Listen to a guided meditation (yoga nidra)
Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation technique that is best performed lying down in the so called savasana, dead man’s position, but you can do lie down however you want.
In Sanskrit, yoga means unity or to unite and nidra means sleep and yoga nidra is often called the sleepless sleep, as it refers to a state between wakefulness and sleep where the body goes into a deep form of relaxation. Yoga nidra is basically a form of body scanning, or moving our conscious attention into the actuality of the body. By focusing on different parts and the natural workings of the body, the mind naturally relaxes. Here below is a great guided meditation:
Sweet sleep can sometimes be so elusive to us modern human beings living with our innumerable set of day-to-day distractions. Luckily there are ways to counteract this unfortunate scenario, meditative ways to allow for deeper and healthier nights of rest and sleep,
Did any of the above resonate with you? Feel free to comment below with your own experiences!