Are you suffering from insomnia? Does it take you ages to slow down your mind and drift into a peaceful sleep? Do you wake up multiple times at night and have a hard time falling back to sleep?
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,
“Studies show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.”
The root cause of most sleep disturbances is stress. Hence, reducing your stress level with a healthy diet, regular exercise and devoting time to self-care and relaxation helps immensely. Of course, a glass of wine, sleeping pills or other sleep-inducing substances can work faster and require less effort. However, these are short-term solutions that provide lower-quality sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep or tend to wake up in the middle of the night, avoid tossing and turn with frustration or getting up and looking at a screen, which will make it much more difficult to fall asleep after stimulating the eyes and brain with blue light and digital information.
Instead, try to relax, do some yoga or meditate. Even if you can’t sleep, going into a state of deep relaxation will be beneficial. Here are a few visualization techniques you can use to help you fall back into a pleasant dreamland.
Our breath is with us from the moment of birth until the moment of death. It is the one bodily function that we can control. Deep breathing is calming. Breath awareness is the foundation of any meditation technique—and one that we can always return to, no matter what.
Starting from one hundred, count down with each breath. You’ll almost certainly fall asleep before you get to zero. If you lose track, start back at one hundred. Alternatively, start from one, counting up with each breath cycle.
Let your breath be natural. On the inhale, imagine your body filling with darkness. You are breathing in the night sky, pitch black with shining stars. Make your mind as vast and open as the sky. Visualize yourself exhaling smoke through your nostrils like a sleeping dragon.
Lie on your back, scanning the body and relaxing all the muscles from head to toe. Let the weight and energy of your physical being press down into the bed.
Starting with the right big toe, bring your awareness to each toe one at a time, to the ball of the foot and heel. Draw your attention to the ankle, shin, calf, knee, thigh, gluts, hips—then move back down the left leg with equal precision.
Bring your awareness to the lower abdomen, upper abdomen, diaphragm, left side of the chest, middle of the chest, right side of the chest. Invite your attention to the right shoulder, right bicep, tricep, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, each finger and thumb.
Repeat on the left arm. Relax the throat, back of the neck, jaw, chin, lips, tongue, cheeks, nose, eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, forehead, scalp, crown of the head.
Relax every part, letting go of all tension, feeling your body melt into the ground. Imagine your body is as light as a fluffy white cloud floating in the sky. Then, visualize your body as heavy as a boulder grounded in the earth.
Visualize the tension or energy that you no longer need leaving your physical body. See it seeping out, seeping down into the Earth, where it can serve as compost for new growth, fresh beginnings and abundant opportunities.
Visualize sitting on a bench at a train station, just watching the trains arrive and depart. Our pure awareness is the bench at the station. All the mental activities — the myriad thoughts, feelings, sensations, ideas, memories, plans and so forth are the trains.
Sooner or later, our mindfulness will lapse and we will get on one of those trains. We will be lost in thought, having completely forgotten about our meditation. However, the moment you realize that you are on the train, you can magically transport yourself back to the station, back to the bench. Keep watching without judgment, with an open mind and an open heart.
Quality sleep is fundamental to a healthy, happy and productive life. These and other meditation techniques can help improve our sleep. Meditating consistently, as in most days for at least 20 to 30 minutes, can make a huge difference in our sleep quality. Many people shift from needing eight or nine hours to only requiring four to six hours of sleep at night in order to feel energized and alert during the day. This is just one of the cornucopia of benefits offered by a devoted meditation practice.
Our main goal is to share insights and knowledge that help infuse your life with joy and relaxation.