Alaska Sleep Education Center

How Mindfulness Leads to Great Sleep

Posted by Stacy Walden on Jun 30, 2020 4:30:00 AM

Have you been struggling with insomnia? Whether it’s due to our current societal climate, stress from personal or work life, or that you’ve never optimized your nighttime routine there are many factors and reasons catching Z’s can be difficult. In fact, 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep (that is, at least seven hours per night) according to the CDC. Our minds are actively engulfed in the media, relationships, obligations, and other distractions that make it difficult to shut off and recharge. That being said, being mindful of these set-backs is the first step in getting back on track.

How Mindfulness Promotes Healthy Sleep Patterns

If you’re new to the mindfulness train, we’ll give you a crash course. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Even though the concept of becoming more mindful is nothing new, it’s popular in the wellness and self-care space because people are more stressed-out than ever. Practicing mindfulness techniques can help create physiological changes that are similar to those that occur when your body is in the early stages of sleep. These physiological changes include your pulse slowing, your blood pressure dropping and your stress hormone levels decreasing. By practicing mindfulness you can recreate the same sensations of sleep and almost trick your body into settling in for the night. Let’s explore some mindfulness techniques to try next!

Mindfulness Exercises for Better Sleep 

What’s your mindfulness style? Whether you’re more of a pen to paper type of person or appreciate a guided meditation the folks at Tommy John have rounded up three different mindfulness exercises to try! 

Box Breathing 

Box Breathing Instructions

Box breathing (also known as square breathing) is used by the Navy SEALs as a way to reset your breath and brain at the end of the day. Not only is this breathing practice designed to help people remain calm in stressful situations, but it’s also perfect for helping yourself relax at the end of a long day. Use one of their box breathing printables to guide you as you try the exercise below! 

 

Instructions: 

  1. Find a quiet space to meditate.
  2. Set a timer for 1–3-minute intervals, pausing briefly before starting a new interval of continuous deep breathing. 
  3. Before you start the process of breathing, decide if you’d rather use your finger to trace the square, or place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower stomach to feel the air entering and leaving your body. 
  4. Breathe in for 4 seconds, completely filling your lungs. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale for 4 seconds, being sure to expel every last bit of air. Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds. Repeat as desired.

 

Gratitude Mapping 

Gratitude Mapping.

Gratitude mapping is the best exercise for anyone who enjoys journaling. A gratitude map is a great tool for becoming more aware of one’s thoughts and emotions and breaking them down into smaller more specific ideas. When you direct your thoughts to focus on all the little things you have to be grateful for, it instantly helps you feel sensations of happiness and relax your body. 

 

Instructions: 

  • Find a quiet space to meditate. 
  • Take a series of deep breaths for at least three minutes before you begin writing. 
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes. 
  • Record everything that you are thankful for within each category. 
  • Be as specific as possible and focus on the feeling of gratitude as you’re writing.

Five Senses Reflection

Reflecting on the 5 senses.

This five senses writing exercise is focused on reflecting on a positive experience and resonating with gratitude. Pick one memory from the past week that was positive. By reflecting on it, visualizing it, and feeling each detail according to the five senses, you’ll slowly transition your mind into a more meditative state. 

 

Instructions

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes. 
  2. Choose a positive memory and start to recreate it in your mind. 
  3. Visualize and record all the details of the memory. 
  4. Any time you find yourself losing focus, acknowledge the distracting thought, embrace it, and then let it go. 
  5. Patiently return back to your memory rather than letting unrelated thoughts frustrate you or detract from the exercise. 

 

Now that we’ve provided you with a few exercises, try these out before you go to bed. Today’s climate can be stressful but we urge you not to carry the world on your shoulders. A good night’s sleep can make a difference so we encourage you to add some mindfulness to your bedtime routine that can help you be a healthier and happier person. 

The World is a stressful place, no matter where you live.  Learning how to improve your sleep can improve every other aspect of health and wellness.  If you need more direction on how to do this, call Alaska Sleep Clinic today @ 907-420-0540 to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

Take Our Insomnia Quiz

Download the Mindfulness Printables here.

 

Topics: relax, meditation, mindfulness

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