Ever have trouble falling to sleep? Do you sometimes wake up during the night worrying about something or trying to work out a problem from the day? If so, you are not alone. There is an emerging body of research that shows mindfulness can improve your quality of sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night (Hirshkowitz, et al., 2015). Another study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 44% of the participants said they fell short of this desired amount by an hour or more (Knutson, et al., 2017). If we’re not sleeping well, it’s easier to get derailed at work and elsewhere. Daytime sleepiness that follows a sleepless night can leave us feeling less focused, sap our productivity, and may even harm your health (Knutson, et al., 2017)
Many of us find it difficult to "switch off" our brains when it's time to relax and prepare for a restful night sleep. A recent study found just one to two weeks of mindfulness practice can help us get that much-needed rest. Keep in mind the study also found the effects do not continue unless you continue to practice (Hulsheger, 2015). Another study found that people who practiced meditation or did exercises which enabled them to focus on “moment by moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions” had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than the control group who had sleep education classes. Researchers speculate this improvement in sleep might be related to the role mindfulness plays in improving the nervous system and cognitive processes related to stress and arousal (Black, 2015).
Dr. Herbert Benson, director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, recommends practicing mindfulness during the day, ideally for 20 minutes, which gives your the ability to create a sense of relaxation when you can’t sleep.
Maybe it's time to start developing your relaxation conditioning. It only takes a few minutes at various points of the day focusing your attention on the present to start enjoying a good nights’ sleep.
Black, David, O’Reilly, Gillian A. Olemstead, Richard, Breen, Elizabeth C Irwin; Irwin, Mi- chale R. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults with Sleep Disturbances. JAMA Internal Med,175 (4) 494- 501
Hirshkowitz, Max, et al., (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health, 40(1), 40-43. http://www.elsevier.com/locate/sleh
Hulsheger, U. R., Feinholdt, A., & Nubold, A. (2015). A low-dose mindfulness intervention and recovery from work: Effects on psychological detachment, sleep quality, and sleep duration. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88, 464-489
Knutson KL, et al, The National Sleep Foundation's Sleep Health Index, Sleep Health (2017), http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.sleh.2017.05.011
Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2017). Internet-based instructor-led mindfulness for work-related rumination, fatigue, and sleep: Assessing facets of mindfulness as mechanisms of change. A randomized waitlist control trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(2), 153-169. doi:10.1037/ocp0000028
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