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How Can Mindfulness Support Sleep Challenges & Insomnia?

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Having adequate sleep provides our bodies and minds with the opportunity to heal, rest and rejuvenate. Sleep is a critical component of wellbeing.

For many people, sleep doesn’t always come easily. Factors that can affect sleep include stress, anxiety, depression, grief, medication, diet, seasonal changes, and pain, amongst many other reasons. Some people struggle falling asleep while others have issues staying asleep. Some have both.

Insomnia is a condition that affects many people for many different reasons. Insomnia is a more intense form of sleeplessness, which prevents getting to sleep, staying asleep and experiencing deep sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to low attention span, poor memory, mood problems and even weight gain. Research shows that a lack of sleep can lead to significant health complications.

Developing a good pattern of sleep can reduce stress levels, improve mental clarity and overall wellbeing.

There are dedicated practises to develop a full awakening during the day and a full rest at night. Both comprehensive practises support each other.

You will need to bring mindfulness to the details of your day. You then develop subtle changes to that area and can develop a routine to incorporate sleep.

Eight Mindful Questions for the Day to Develop a Good Night’s Sleep

  1. What specific situations cause me the most stress?

  2. Am I doing, doing, doing? Is there a loss of the sense of being?

  3. Am I not doing, not doing, not doing? This leaves no outflow of energy.

  4. Do I spend lots of time in daydreams, memories, future indulgencies?

  5. Am I grounded? Do I feel earthed and alive?

  6. What am I prepared to give up for a good night’s sleep, night after night?

  7. What am I prepared to develop for a good night’s sleep, night after night?

  8. Do I overstimulate the brain with mobile phone, computer, television, films (movies) distressing news, horror films or violent drama etc?

Explorations of Day and Night to Support Sleep

  1. Be active during the day. Every day! Exercise, dance, weights, take a walk, gardening etc. Whatever you can do to get your body moving.

  2. Are you on medication? Is the medication you are taking a stimulant? Or does it make you drowsy during the day? Perhaps discuss changing the time of day you take your medication and adjust if appropriate (Under the advice of your GP or health practitioner)

  3. Consider joining a class or course during the day to support wellbeing such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, sound healing.

  4. Meditate at home. If you are new to meditation, then listen to a guided meditation or seek guidance from a local mediation teacher.

  5. Eat nutritious food with minimal spices, salt, sugar and fat.

  6. Take little or no alcohol. Eat and drink a minimum of two hours before you sleep so food can digest.

  7. Explore evenings without use of technology stimulating braincells.

  8. Move mindfully in unhurried ways as the evening progresses.

  9. Incorporate a mindfulness activity into your bedtime routine such as brushing your teeth.

  10. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking before bed.

  11. Make the transition into horizontal posture slow and mindful.

  12. Sleep in a different direction, try a different pillow, remember three ways to sleep – on your back, on one side or the other. Full length of body. Feel body sinking into mattress. Rest in stillness. You could listen to soft music or short story or a guided meditation.

  13. Use breathwork to relax your body once in bed.

  14. Consider the use of aromatherapy oils that support sleep and relaxation.

  15. Keep a daily diary. Be mindful of subtle changes in the day and night.

  16. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, 7 days a week.

  17. Take a hot bath or hot shower before sleep to relax the body.

Final Words

Be patient. You can develop the transition into deep sleep with clear intentions and commitment.

Awakening supports sleep. Sleep supports Awakening. Consider both your daytime and evening activities.

A small percentage of people experience short and irregular sleep as the norm.

Do not put too much pressure on yourself to fall asleep. This will only contribute to the stress and inability to sleep.

Resting the mind and body without full sleep is also beneficial. Avoid getting up during the night unless necessary and appreciate the stillness of body and mind in the moment.

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