Meditation Could Be Your Key to Better Sleep
Any number of events, activities, and lifestyle choices can add undue stress and disrupt our sleeping patterns. Whether they're timely issues, such as election and holiday stress, or they’re more ongoing, like “doom scrolling” through social media and binge-watching Netflix, everyone seems to be seeking a better solution to their shuteye shortcomings.
Whether you’ve already been meditating and are now curious how it impacts your sleep, or you’re a newcomer to the practice, SleepPhones® has got you covered. We’ll define some essential terms you should know before getting started, review a variety of benefits that come from mindfulness, and list an array of tools and resources to help you make the most of your practice.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is an intentional practice that helps people achieve harmony between their bodies and minds by quieting and focusing their minds. While it's in vogue in the United States, it's been a part of India's culture for millennia.
When practiced properly, people can experience positive physiological changes. Many of these changes are similar to those that happen in your body during the early phases of sleep—your pulse slows, blood pressure drops, and stress hormones decrease. When you meditate before bed, it can help reduce the effects of insomnia and other sleep disorders.
“I have suffered with sleep terror disorder my whole life. I understand. I’m even worse now with the added stressors. Right now my saving grace is the Headspace app. They have sleep casts, meditations and sleep sounds music. Get a set of wireless SleepPhones. It really helps.” - Rubypdx
What’s Happening in the Body & Mind When You Meditate?
There are a variety of physiological changes that occur in the body when you meditate. Meditation can help regulate the hypothalamo pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a set of interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. Studies have found that people who meditate can lower cortisol levels (stress hormone) and catecholamines (neurotransmitters that help our bodies respond to stress). Furthermore, meditation can also increase helpful hormones and organic compounds such as:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (prevents aging and boosts sexual function)
- Prolactin (helps with hormone secretion)
- Norepinephrine (regulates blood pressure)
- Serotonin (regulates mood)
- Melatonin (help with the timing of your circadian rhythms).
Perhaps the one you’re most familiar with in the list above is melatonin. First and foremost, it’s responsible for helping you manage your sleep rhythm, but it’s also critical for the immune system function, antiaging, and mood regulation. While you can buy pills, drinks, and teas that increase melatonin in the body, know that your body can produce it naturally.
"These headphones have been my salvation for two reasons. First, I use them to listen to guided meditations on both my phone and computer. I use these meditations as part of a pain management program. I have a genetic disorder that is painful and debilitating.
Every tool in my toolkit is valuable and essential. These headphones provide a comfort I have not enjoyed previously. The second reason these headphones have helped me is that my sleep is disrupted by pain; I wake frequently and I sleepwalk.
If I go to sleep wearing these, they provide me the comfort of my own world - whether it is music, a show or movie, or a meditation. In all likelihood, I will awake in a couple of hours. I just turn my music or meditation on and I am often able to drift off to sleep without sleepwalking. I am able to avoid the use of prescription sleep aids by using this technique.
Finally, I find that the nights that I wear these headphones, I stay in bed. SleepPhones, quite literally, contribute to the quality of my life. By helping improve my sleep, I can manage pain better. I am more tolerant during the day. This makes everyone happier. Also, when I wear them, my sleepwalking is curtailed. I have had numerous injuries due to sleepwalking. It could be well argued that SleepPhones improve my safety." - Dawn
The Benefits of Meditation
In a recent University of Southern California study, researchers found that mindful awareness practices (MAPs), which is a type of meditation, improved sleep quality better than simply educating people on proper sleep hygiene. These findings make sense considering many people know at least the basics of healthy nighttime habits (don’t smoke, don’t drink caffeine, don’t eat right before bed, etc.), yet they’re still not sleeping well.
What’s also important is that meditation-based interventions can have a lasting effect on sleep. When researchers followed up six months later with patients who had suffered from insomnia and tried the intervention, 50% of them were still sleeping better. Various benefits also explain why meditation can so significantly improve the quality of sleep. Meditation is known to:
- Blood pressure
- Chronic pain
- Anxiety & depression
- Tobacco cravings
- Brain Function
- Blood pressure
- Heart health
Another benefit to consider is that meditation can be done pretty much anywhere and anytime. Further, you don't need special equipment or tools, making it an incredible budget-friendly strategy for bettering your sleep. All you need is a few minutes and some patience.
Is Meditation Right for Me?
It’s critical to note that you should consult your doctor or health care professional before trying any treatment for sleep disorders—and that includes meditation. If you gain confirmation from your doctor that it’s safe for you, meditation may help you increase sleep time and improve sleep quality.
By and large, meditation is safe. However, if you have a history of mental illness, meditation could trigger a variety of unwanted side effects such as:
- Mood swings
If you experience meditation side effects, stop immediately and consult your doctor. Do not continue meditation exercises because the side effects may worsen over time.
“SleepPhones and RunPhones were a major help in my recovery. I listened to guided meditation and addiction recovery/self-help tracks daily.” - David Hartwig
What to Remember
There is ample evidence that meditation can positively affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. However, there is still no replacement for good sleep hygiene and professional medical interventions for severe sleep disorders.
Should you decide to meditate after consulting with your healthcare professional, you'll want to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, as well as make your bedroom comfortable. You'll also want to avoid using electronics before bed and consuming caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before settling in for the night.
Remember too, meditation is not a one-size-fits-all practice. There are a variety of techniques, and one might work better for you. It’s also essential to be consistent with your practice, as it may not work as effectively when you’re first trying it. But over time, just like with any practice, you’ll get better at it, and its effects will be more profound.
Before we dive into three distinct meditation techniques that are helpful for sleep, there are some basics you’ll ideas you’ll want to consider, no matter which you choose:
- If you’re serious about using meditation, keep practicing it (practice once a day)
- Start slow—try five minutes of meditation at first
- Catch your thoughts when you get distracted and slowly pull them back into focus
- Do not judge thoughts that pop into your head
- Quieting your mind may be uncomfortable at first
- Remove as many distractions as possible
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment. It’s done by acutely focusing on your breath and body. If you notice a thought or emotion, simply observe it without judgment, and slowly recenter your focus.
How to Do Mindfulness Meditation
- Remove all distractions from your room (especially your phone)
- Lie down in a comfortable position
- Focus on your breathing
- Inhale for four counts, then exhale for four counts; Repeat five to 10 times
- When a thought comes up, slowly return your focus to just your breathing
2. Body Scan Meditation
The process of a body scan meditation involves focusing on each part of your body. The goal is to relax and be present.
How to Do a Body Scan Meditation
- Start by removing all distractions from your room
- Lie down in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes
- Breath slowly and deeply
- Imagine a wave of relaxation slowing moving from your feet to your head (aim for five minutes to start)
- If you’re aiming for a certain duration, pace yourself
- Relax each part of your body as you feel the wave of relaxation reach it
- Continue shifting your focus to the rest of your body (chest, stomach, hips, legs, feet, etc.)
- When/if you reach your face, continue the process backwards
- If your mind wanders, slowly shift your attention back to your body
3. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is when another person leads you through your practice. They'll typically give you instructions on how to breathe, position your body, and think about or visualize (also known as guided imagery). We recommend wearing a comfortable set of headphones, specially designed for sleeping when using guided meditation.
This is one of the best things I've ever bought! I wasn't sure about the price, but I KNEW I needed them. I hate earbuds they hurt. This is so comfortable. Totally soft and flat. FYI you guys should show people that it can double as a sleep mask! I've been wearing sleep masks for years. I pull the band down over my eyes and I get double the sleep help. My husband can't hear a thing from them and it helps me listen to my meditation and sleep sounds to drown out his snoring! - April Campbell
How to Use Guided Meditation
- Pick a recording that you enjoy (browse our shop)
- Turn off notifications if you’re listening on your phone
- Start the recording
- Lie down in bed
- Focus on the person’s voice
- Follow the directions
- If you mind wanders, slowly return your focus back to the instructor.
Try This Guided Meditation From Pura Rasa YouTube Channel
Meditation Resources from AcousticSheep
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Walking Meditation: What It Is and How It Can Benefit You: If traditional meditation isn’t your cup of tea, try walking meditation. Learn about its benefits, how to do it, and the tools you need to make the most out of your practice.
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"I always had trouble sleeping and had even used Ambien for over a year. Then I found SleepPhones and haven't used it since. I have a few playlists that I created in iTunes for sleeping, sometimes meditation first, then sleeping. I put my SleepPhones on, iPod under the pillow. See you at 6 am :)... - Terry
If you’re interested in using guided meditation to help you sleep better, invest in a set of headphones that are specifically designed for sleeping. SleepPhones® were designed by a family doctor to be the ideal headphones for sleep, meditation, and yoga. Click the button below to browse our store for the SleepPhones and guided meditation tracks that fit your sleep needs.
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