Mindfulness to help you sleep

November 16, 2009 at 10:33 am 1 comment

We all have nights when sleep seems elusive, but some of us experience sleep problems and insomnia with regularity.  Recent research has indicated that mindfulness can help improve sleep.  Below are a  few exercises you might try when you’re tossing and turning.

When you notice you’re having trouble sleeping, begin by bringing your attention and awareness to what is going on in your mind and body.  Notice if you are worrying or thinking about something.  Are your thoughts racing?  Are they triggering emotions that are not calm and relaxing?  If you get distracted and wrapped up in your thinking again, just notice that, label the thoughts you were distracted by (you might label them as worries, or simply label them as thoughts of the  “past”, “future” or “fantasies”).  Bring your mind back, again and again to simply observing your thoughts.

Do the same with your body.  Bring your full attention to your body.  Scan from head to toe.  Are you holding tension?  Do you have discomfort or pain that is interfering with sleep?  In this season of colds and flu, are you congested or feeling sick?

Once you’ve attended to what is interfering with sleep, choose a mindfulness exercise to help you get calm and relaxed.

If you need to focus your thoughts, try breathing exercises. A few breathing exercises that can be useful when trying to get to sleep include: counting with each breath from 1-10, repeating as necessary; saying  “in” and “out” with each inhalation and exhalation; breathing out until you feel your lungs entirely empty of air and then breathing in feeling them fill from bottom to top- repeat 4 times; or breathing out while imagining your entire body from head to toe emptying of air and breathing in and imagining your entire body filling up.  With each exercise, notice if you become distracted and return your thoughts to your breath.  Repeat as often as necessary.  Mindfulness exercises become easier and distractions lesson over time.

If you have noticed that discomfort and tension in your body is keeping you from sleep, you may want to try a body scan and tension reduction exercise.  You may simply scan your body from head to toe and relax each area of your body as you bring your attention to it.  Or you may tense muscle groups, like the hands, feet and face for several seconds and then relax those muscles.  You can repeat these exercises until your body is feeling more relaxed. As with the breathing exercises, bring your mind back if you become distracted.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: mindfulness, mindfulness exercises, parenting, Stress Management, Stress Reduction Techniques. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Gratitude Positive Thoughts for the Holidays

1 Comment Add your own

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 65 other followers

Recent Posts

Feeds

Follow Me On Twitter


%d bloggers like this: