One of the top reasons people cite for insomnia — or not being able to sleep well — is anxiety. Anxiety and sleep are related in that when you’re keyed up with tension and stress, you’re less likely to fall asleep easily — and get good, restorative rest while you’re asleep. Anxiety can come from any number of sources in our lives: work, family, or just the general state of the world today. With rules about work and travel changing all the time and worries about world events at the forefront, it’s no wonder that many people are having a hard time getting a good night’s rest. There are a few old-school ways to get to sleep quickly — medications or alcohol come to mind. But these are just a “quick fix” — and not very healthy fixes, at that. How can you ease your anxieties, calm a racing mind, and slip into a restful sleep — naturally?
Meditation for Anxiety and Sleep
A simple, drug-free way to achieve better sleep and ease everyday anxiety is meditation. This practice has long been touted as a kind of “magic key” for helping improve mental health as well as encouraging better sleep. What’s the best way for beginners to try meditation? Check out these tips for easy ways to incorporate meditation into your Self-Care routine.
No pillow? No problem. You might think that meditation requires a fancy setup, like an altar with crystals or a special decorative cushion. But this isn’t true! All you need to meditate is a quiet, dark spot where you can focus and turn your thoughts inward. With the right mindset, you can meditate anywhere.
Block out light for a deeper experience. While you don’t need a ton of space or accessories to meditate effectively, it can be helpful to boost your experience by blocking out distracting noise and light. One way to do this is by trying an eye pillow, like this one from lalitbhatt, which applies gentle pressure to your eyes and eliminates bright light, helping you focus and concentrate on your breathing.
Go with the flow. A great way to enhance your meditation session is by incorporating some simple, gentle movements. Try stretching your arms from side to side, or bending down into child’s pose. This signals to your body that you are moving into relaxation mode, helping to calm the nervous system.
Cut the caffeine. Though it can be tempting to reach for that afternoon cup of black tea or coffee, it’s well-known that consuming too much caffeine can affect sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning it can ramp you up and leave you feeling jittery — not something that you want when you’re trying to wind down and relax. Try reaching for chamomile tea or another caffeine-free alternative rather than a caffeinated beverage. This satisfies your need for an afternoon pick-me-up without disrupting your sleep later.
Pull the plug on screens. We all spend a lot of time in front of computers, phones, and tablets these days. But did you know that the blue light from electronic gadgets can affect your brain — and your circadian rhythm? The bright light from our favorite game or handheld device stimulates our brains, and using these devices too close to bedtime can have an adverse affect on your sleep. Aim to put away your phone or computer an hour or two before bed, and wear protective blue-light glasses during the day to minimize the effects of blue light.
Whatever meditation methods you choose, you can be sure that if you keep up this part of your Self-Care routine, you’ll see a dip in anxiety and an increase in nightly Zzzzs. Steer clear of screens after dinnertime, ditch that midafternoon coffee, and incorporate some time to sit quietly and reflect, and you should see your sleep patterns improve over time. Just focusing on these few small changes can make a big difference in your overall wellbeing and mental health.
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