Here at SleepyPeople.com, we understand that there are many different ways people can struggle to get to sleep at night.
Because of this, we are always on the lookout for new ideas, methods and research which is proven to help people get their forty winks.
One such method, which has really taken off in the past few years (see the Telegraph here) is mindfulness.
What is it?
Mindfulness is an increasingly popular practice and is defined by dictionary.com as ‘a technique on which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings and sensations but not judging them’.
Many people get confused between mindfulness and meditation, wondering what the difference is between them. In actual fact, mindfulness is a form of meditation.
The whole process is about being hyper-aware of the present moment you are in, clearing your mind of anything other than the present. The goal is, over time, to learn to be really present to the point where you’re perhaps able to halt a knee-jerk reaction to anything, take time and potentially do certain things in a different way.
Mindfulness can be practised both formally and informally. Essentially, practising mindfulness informally means that no matter where you are, you simply attempt to focus on the present.
Practicing formally is closer to what many of us would call meditation. Taking specific time in the day to do nothing but concentrate on the present.
Why do it?
There are any number of reasons why you might choose to adopt mindfulness into your weekly/daily routine. Some people do it as a break from their usual 9-5, some do it to better their decision making, others to help clear anxiety and stress.
For sceptics, it is easy to dismiss mindfulness. However, there is plenty of proof that it works. Take a look at this from the University of California, who’s study helped prove that it can reduce people’s stress.
How it Helps Sleep
There are any number of reasons why we might struggle to sleep, however, many sleep related issues can be attributed to things like anxiety and stress.
It is proven that both of these issues can contribute to a number of sleep disorders including sleep apnea and insomnia.
We can suffer from either of these things because of a number of factors, be it looking after young children, having a busy work schedule and so on. The reason so many of us have issues sleeping is because we can’t switch off from the anxieties or stresses we are feeling come bed time, instead they play on our mind right throughout the night.
In research at Harvard University, mindfulness has been found to help those suffering from serious sleep disorders such as insomnia because it helps them remove any other concerns in their mind before bed, allowing them just to concentrate on the present. Read more here.
Of course, this isn’t an overnight success story, and when it comes to disorders as serious as insomnia, trying to improve your sleep will take time.
Putting some time aside each night before bed for a more formal mode of mindfulness could well help you clear your head of any worries, stresses and strains that have been bothering you through the day.