We all know the importance of getting quality sleep, but sometimes when we’re tossing and turning in bed, it can seem extremely elusive. With mindfulness and its associated benefits being the ‘in’ therapy of the moment, could it help us to acquire good sleeping habits?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing our awareness and attention on the present moment, and allowing ourselves to take notice of our thoughts, feelings and physical experiences, while remaining aware of our physical environment. We simply let our thoughts and feelings drift in and out, without judging them, placing all our focus on the present, without looking to the past or future. Many believe that the practice of mindfulness has many positive benefits on both our physical and mental health, and that it may even have a beneficial effect on our immune system, our stress levels, and could be used as a treatment for depression.
Mindfulness can be effective in helping to improve sleep
Practicing mindfulness can help to improve sleep in several ways. It not only helps with insomnia and other sleep disturbances, but helps to reduce any fatigue and tiredness you may experience during the day. It’s thought that mindfulness can also help to improve the sleep problems that come about as a result of worry and stress, by utilising techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.
A recent study carried out by scientists as USC and UCLA demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can improve disrupted sleep in older people. The study monitored 49 men and women aged over 55, half of which received 6 weekly sessions in mindfulness techniques, while the remainder received weekly tuition in sleep hygiene. The final evaluation showed that, in comparison to the sleep hygiene group, the mindfulness group showed a much more significant improvement in their sleep patterns, improving their sleep quality scores by nearly twice as much. They also saw noteworthy improvements in symptoms of depression and fatigue levels.
One small study for mindfulness, one big leap for sleeplessness
If you’re suffering from insomnia or sleep problems, you may want to incorporate mindfulness as one of your coping strategies; the practices are easy to learn, and it’s a gentle and natural approach which is suitable for people of all ages and abilities.