Here’s a question, how do you sleep?
- Why write about sleep and what does it have to do with your meditation practice?
- Would you like better sleep?
- Perhaps less sleep and more rest?
- Or, maybe you have insomnia but would like to be able to have whatever sleep you do get benefit you to a greater degree?
The purpose of this post isn’t to make you feel guilty for not learning to meditate. However, this post is going to tell you that if you want to gain the greatest benefits from your sleep, whether that’s an eight-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep, or a short four-hour insomniac’s sleep, you’ve got to meditate! Read on…
In a recent article titled, Meditation and Its Regulatory Role on Sleep, the authors concluded that “Meditation, with its global effects on body and brain functions helps to establish a body and mind harmony.”
The authors summarize their findings that:
“Intense meditation practices help to achieve a harmony between body and mind. Meditation practices influence brain functions, induce various intrinsic neural plasticity events, modulate autonomic, metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions and thus mediate global regulatory changes in various behavioral states including sleep.”
(If you’d like to know more about this study, go here to download the full PDF of the article, published in Frontiers of Neurology.)
What does this mean to you?
Meditation practices can:
- influence brain functions – Ongoing research into meditation has shown that the practice of meditation can dramatically and positively affect how your brain functions in times of stress and challenge
- induce various intrinsic neural plasticity – Research, specifically in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), shows us that you can rewire our brain in ways that positively affect how you respond – not react! – to stressful emotions arising within your body.
- modulate autonomic, metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions – Research has shown and continues to show that meditation can positively affect all of the main systems that regulate how your body works – yikes!!
- mediate…sleep – And, from the results of the research highlighted in this article, it seems that meditation can actually improve the sleep that you get, whether that’s eight hours or even just four hours.
As an “advanced practitioner” of insomnia, I can attest to the fact that meditation does help to make the quality of the sleep that I do get more effective in resting my mind and keeping me alert. I recently experienced a 13-week period of profound insomnia. While extreme in the length and duration of this episode, it gave me a lot of time to practice meditation, much of it from 2am – 5am…or later.
What was most notable to me was that while I felt a certain backdrop or fatigue in my body, I continued to be able to write and blog, develop my business, and even to go out for leg-cramping interval bike rides! The factor that supported my being able to function during this time period was my meditation practice.
So, how do you derive these same benefits? What do you need to do to sleep well, or to at least use the sleep that you do get to gain the greatest benefit? Meditate! How?
If you’re already a seasoned meditator, then it’s easy – keep up your practice. If you practice meditation, but not that often, then it’s easy – meditate more. If you only dabble in meditation…ditto. And if you are just beginning to learn to meditate or need more info, there are TONS of resources right here, on this site (please see below).
The key is to meditate, possibly more than you’re already doing, and then notice the quality of your energy and that state of your mind after sleep. Be your own research project! And, let others here know how you do.
For more information on how to meditate, please see the Related Posts below. Also, don’t forget to download the free ebook, Can Meditation Change the Way that You View Your World?, for help with getting started in you meditation practice, and download the ebook, How to Work with the Four Distractions to Meditation to learn how to deal with some of the obstacles to meditation.
ALSO, visit the Media, page where you can find articles, MP3 tracks for downloading, and videos on the subject of meditation.
As always, please feel free to share your comments. And, as always, please feel free to contact me if you’d like to see additional content or other discussions on this site.