Mindfulness: A Holistic Sleep Solution
Continually rising in popularity, meditation is no longer considered an underdog of sleep and health management. This practice shifted from alternative medicine to the traditional one as it became the topic of scientific research, a piece of doctors’advice, and an underlying part of the successful and viable business model.
Corporations like Google, Target, General Mills, and Aetna, among many others, introduced mindfulness to their workplace as a simple, cheap, effective and sustainable solution to enhance performance as well as interpersonal relationships. Meditation proved successful to relieve stress, improve focus, sharpen mental clarity, boost decision-making, bolster emotional balance, and promote sleep. For these fantastic benefits, a growing number of companies started recognizing it as a significant contributor to their businesses and a responsibility towards their employees.
When Aetna provided meditation classes to more than 50.000 employees in 2015, the results were astonishing: stress levels dropped by 28%, sleep quality increased by 20%, and pain lessened by 19%. With increased sleep efficiency and augmented well-being, the practice became a unique fringe benefit for the workforce and an indispensable asset to the company. It fostered productivity, which the Aetna estimated, would save the company approximately $3000 per employee annually.
Be here now
Mindfulness is indeed a simple but highly effective method for achieving and maintaining inner peace by directing attention towards the present moment and focusing on breathing. An ancient technology, more than 2500 years old, it is a gift from the East to the rest of the world. This type of meditation is a powerful strategy intended for attentional and emotional regulation and optimization. It is a potent antidote to sleep deprivation, emotional imbalance, and all subsequent medical conditions such as insomnia, fragmented sleep, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
"Over the course of meditating for tens of thousands of hours, the long-term practitioners had actually altered the structure and function of their brains," the scientists note in Buddha's Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation.
"Neuroplasticity" is the brain’s ability to change its structures and cell functions so that a person can adapt to and learn from new circumstances. Mindfulness enhances the brain’s quality of being “plastic,” flexible, adaptable. It supports and strengthens the skills required to adjust to the new occurrences and acquire new knowledge in regular practitioners.
The head coach of the Harvard women’s rugby team, Melanie Denham, agrees that this type of meditation can help her team deal with, "the pressures of expectation and performance.” She added, “This kind of training can develop a more-skillful mind and a sense of focus and well-being that can help them better maintain control and awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and presence in the moment.”
To enjoy the grapes of this easy yet exceptional practice, check out these simple techniques.
Mindfulness does your sleep a favor
The 2018 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences reveals that mindfulness is a great tool to manage sleep disorders. Meditation improves sleep quality by promoting sleep efficiency. It helps initiate and maintain sleep and is an effective way to treat insomnia.
The experiment on 305 undergraduates corroborates the link between mental illness and sleep quality and reveals the importance of mindfulness when it comes to alertness, vigilance, emotional stability, and social well-being. Since it upgrades the quality of slumber, the participants woke up with ease, feeling refreshed and well-rested, and therefore, were the most active and most productive in the morning. The practice raises energy levels, elevates mood, and synchronizes our internal clocks with the external time, which is tremendously beneficial to our health and the overall quality of life.
Mindfulness is an excellent substitute for sleeping pills because as opposed to sleep meds, there are no side effects to be cautious of. While you may struggle with drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, addiction, delirium, fall, and sleep-related eating disorders if prescribed pills for better sleep, these repercussions are unheard of when it comes to mediation.
In 2014, the scientists conducted a 2-month trial on 54 adults with chronic insomnia. The results revealed that mindfulness is a feasible treatment alternative for dealing with chronic sleep deprivation. It is as successful in tackling sleep disturbances as traditional treatments for sleep disorders.
In 2016, the researchers reviewed all studies done on mindfulness and sleep from 2012 to 2016. All the data the researchers looked at were primarily aimed at improving sleep. The assessment yields insights into just how significant the impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI) are when it comes to tackling sleep disturbances.
Sleep deprivation robs us of well-being by hampering organ functions and hindering bodily processes necessary for robust wellness and abundant emotional health. Studies show that meditation diminishes the symptoms of “sleep-related daytime impairment,” depression, anxiety, and lowers stress levels; thus, it contributes to the overall health and quality of life.
Dr. Herbert Benson, director of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine suggests taking 15-20 minutes daily to practice mindful breathing to build a reliable defense mechanism against physical and mental illnesses.
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says.
Author: Mia Ca