Meditation, the act of focusing your thoughts and clearing your mind, can profoundly impact your health. But did you know that meditation can also help you get a better night’s sleep?
Martin Seeley, the CEO of MattressNextDay and resident sleep expert, reveals all: ‘Firstly, meditation helps reduce stress. Stress is one of the biggest factors affecting sleep quality. Meditation has been proven to help reduce stress levels in healthy people and those with anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Reducing stress is one way to improve your sleep quality because when you’re less stressed, you’re less likely to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.’
‘Meditation increases mindfulness, essentially being aware of what is happening right now, something more difficult than it sounds! Mindful awareness is one of the keys to good sleep quality because it helps slow down our busy minds so that we can relax and fall asleep easier at night instead of thinking about everything we need to do tomorrow or worrying about all the things that happened during our day before bedtime rolls around again.’
‘Finally, meditation helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A study found that meditation helped people fall asleep faster, reduced daytime sleepiness and improved sleep quality. Other research has found that meditation reduces anxiety, which can also interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
If you prefer being on the move, go for a meditative walk this autumnal weekend
However, if the cold weather puts you off and you prefer being on the move, did you know you can meditate while walking? This is one of the easiest meditation practices with the same benefits. If you can walk, you can do walking meditation.
Here’s how to try walking meditation for the first time
- Find a quiet space where you can walk for about 10 minutes uninterrupted (or as long as you have). You may want to choose a place familiar to you, such as a path through an urban park or a beach walk by the ocean. Or pick a new location — perhaps a trail through woods or fields where no one else will pass by.
- Begin by finding your breathing rhythm and following it for at least five breaths before starting your walk. Then begin walking slowly and deliberately, noticing how each foot feels as it touches the ground, without forcing yourself into any rhythm or speed. If you find yourself falling into old habits — thinking about what happened at work today, planning what you’ll do when you get home — gently bring your attention back to each step again.
- Let your arms hang loosely at your sides with palms facing downward to help support your body weight as you walk forward slowly with eyes open but unfocused on anything around you (as if you were daydreaming). If it feels more comfortable for you, place one hand on the other in front of your chest or abdomen as if in a prayer position).
- Keep walking until you are no longer enjoying it or want to return. It is, however, important to note that walking meditation is not about getting somewhere quickly or covering a lot of ground. It’s about being present with each step and fully experiencing each moment as it comes.
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