Do you need to start getting better sleep?
Are you worried about getting your kids to their next sports practice and what you’re going to make for dinner while trying to answer a work email using voice to text on your way to a doctor’s appointment?
Hopefully, you aren’t right at this moment, but chances are you’ve probably done something similar in the past.
We live in a technological age that has somehow made our lives more convenient yet filled them with…more – more entertainment, more food, more information, more devices.
There’s just MORE.
No wonder so many of us find ourselves lying in bed with eyes wide open and having difficulty sleeping.
While many of your activities and obligations may be good and healthy, they could also be causing you more than a few sleepless nights.
No matter the cause, sleeplessness and insomnia can affect many aspects of your daily life.
Why Not to Slack on Sleep if You Need Better Sleep
We’ve all done it. Cut back on sleep to make room for something else. It might be something that’s absolutely necessary like a work project or family obligations.
Here’s the thing, good sleep is a necessary biological function. You need it to stay physically and mentally sharp.
Just take a look at a few areas where you might start to suffer without sleep:
- Brain Health and Mental Clarity: During the day, proteins that are toxic to brain cells buildup, but while you sleep, the brain flushes them out. Your brain also prunes and strengthens connections during the night, which keeps messages to the rest of your body moving at top speed.
- Depressed Immune System: Your sleep-wake cycle helps regulate your immune system by reducing inflammation-causing cells. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to get sick more often and stay sick longer because their immune system cannot work at full power.
- Appetite Control: And, oh, the appetite control you miss when you’re sleep deprived. The amount of hunger hormones goes up while the amount of satiety hormones goes down, which means you’re far more likely to overeat. The changes don’t stop there. During sleep deprivation, the reward center of your brain gets bigger rewards than normal from high-fat, sugary foods. Not only are you eating more, you’re eating more of the foods your body does not need.
- Long-Term Health: Most adult needs seven to nine full hours of sleep to be fully rested. Those who chronically get less are at a higher risk for conditions and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
How Meditation and Yoga Can Make a Huge Difference in Your Sleep
Meditation and yoga have long been used to calm both mind and body, which naturally lends itself to improving sleep quality and better sleep. The key is consistency.
It takes time for the mind/body connection to change and develop but a regular effort can bring you some great benefits like:
1. Less Fatigue
Regular yoga sessions can help reduce fatigue. Scientists at Ohio State University set up a study that explored the effects of yoga on cancer survivors.
Considering that cancer treatments leave many people feeling exhausted, it’s impressive that yoga made that much of a difference.
Participants also showed greater improvement the longer they spent practicing yoga each day.
2. Less Inflammation
The same OSU study also recorded a noticeable reduction in inflammatory proteins.
Inflammation can cause aches, pains, and swelling and may be brought on by illness, injury, stress, or age.
Get rid of inflammation and you’re feeling better, which leads to, you guessed it, better sleep.
But, yoga doesn’t hold the monopoly on getting rid of those inflammatory proteins. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to cut down on the number of inflammatory proteins in the blood.
You can double up on the benefits by using yoga techniques that incorporate meditative breathing techniques.
3. Stress Management
Stress keeps many people awake at night. Mindfulness meditation encourages a thought awareness that helps you learn to accept and examine negative thoughts but not dwell on them.
It’s like being aware of the fact that you have an important meeting the next day, but your mind and body are completely in the moment where there’s no stress.
Yoga incorporates the physical body into stress management. It gives you an opportunity to concentrate on body movements and stretching muscles while using meditative breathing.
4. Emotional Stability and Mood Control
Prolonged meditative practice can even change the structure of your brain for the better. Long-time meditators show a decrease in the amount of gray matter in the amygdala, the emotional center of your brain.
The same daily practitioners also have a thickening of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for reasoning and executive functions. Consequently, meditation gives logic and reasoning more control over your emotions.
What does that mean for stress and sleep? The events and emotions that would normally keep you awake at night have less effect on you, and you get better sleep.
5. Better Pain Tolerance
The mind is a complex and sometimes strange organ.
Consequently, less anticipation means better pain tolerance. That’s great news for those who suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis or back pain.
Yes you Can Find Time for Sleep and Meditation!
Not sure you have time for one more thing in your schedule?
It doesn’t take hours’ worth of practice to get many of the sleep-enhancing benefits of meditation and yoga to get better sleep. They are among the very
When it comes to bringing these stress relievers into your nightly routine, comfort is one of your biggest issues.
You might need an extra pillow to help rid yourself of pain or physical distractions.
Loose, lightweight clothing that’s nonrestrictive can give you the freedom of movement necessary for simple poses.
Once comfortable, take a deep breath and enjoy a few moments that are purely yours.
Whether it’s stress, pain, or bad habits that are getting in the way of your sleep, meditation and yoga can help.
You don’t need to be an expert or master to reap the benefits of these time-honored traditions and enjoy better sleep.
Tuck Sleep is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. For more information on sleep health, resource guides on better sleep, and reviews of sleep products, visit Tuck.com.