Sleep disorders affect over 60 million Americans each year.
People try everything to get those precious and much needed hours of sleep from prescription pills, to melatonin supplements, to late night workouts. People even try to use reverse psychology to convince their minds that they don’t really want to go to sleep. This supposedly makes the brain rebel, and then fall asleep. Counting sheep, taking a shot of whiskey (although alcohol actually blocks the much needed REM sleep), or trying to watch a movie or TV show in the background, are all things people desperately try to get to sleep. Most scientists say that you shouldn’t eat after 7 PM, and that you shouldn’t use electronic devices before going to bed. This is because the blue light emitted from the computer or phone screen suppresses melatonin (Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep, n.d.).
The brain functions using five different brainwaves which serve different arenas of our lives. These include gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
Gamma is the fastest functioning brainwave and is only encountered in high states of epiphany, clarity, or ah-ha moments. This typically occurs during creative processes or during drug-induced awakenings.
Beta is the everyday brainwave that is slower than gamma, but helps us concentrate, work, communicate, and function in our day to day lives. The next slowest is alpha.
Alpha is that wonderful state of relaxation where meditation is accessible, and you find yourself receiving bursts of insight about your life.
Theta is a deeper level of relaxation that occurs during very deep meditation (trance or hypnosis), sleep, and during REM sleep.
REM is when our mind is awake, but our body is asleep. During REM, our mind is working out the details of our day and the bigger picture of our life through the symbolism of dreams. This is an important part of sleep because it helps us feel good about where we’re heading, or it alerts us to potential dangers in our current perspective or relationships.
The slowest brainwaves occur in delta where the brain has no thoughts or images, and the body is the most relaxed. Delta is very important for our physiological functioning. This is when the body heals itself and “resets” so that it feels charged and refreshed the following day (Plagued by Insomnia? 2018 https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/).
As you can see, sleep is very, very important. However, we live in a world that is filled with distractions and makes our minds hyper active, making it difficult to calm down before hitting the hay.
Artificial light kills our ability for deep restful sleep
Another strange thing that has occurred over time and through the integration of industrialization and civilized society, is the advent of artificial light. This can confuse the mind. When it is completely dark our brains produce melatonin naturally. This is part of the body’s natural biorhythm, and signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. Artificial light can confuse the mind and halt melatonin production. Melatonin is not only important for sleep, it’s also a very important hormone associated with the menstrual cycle, and the pre-menstrual phase. This is why women get tired when they are experiencing PMS symptoms. It is important to make sure that your room is totally dark, even blocking out moonlight when you go to bed. It’s even been said that in older times people would make sure that there was no moonlight entering their rooms at night, because they believed it was an interference, and also that it brought about strange dreams.
What can we do then, when insomnia is occurring in our lives?
These days people are becoming more involved and educated about the benefits of meditation.
Learning to calm down the mind is like stepping down the brainwave stairs into the arena of theta, delta, and deep sleep.
This means we need to learn how to calm down, how to breathe deeply, and how to quiet the mind. This is not always an easy task! But this is why we’ve created this article, to teach you how to become calmer so that you can get your beauty and brilliant sleep.
First let’s talk about the 3 basic steps to enter into any type of meditation.
These include deep breathing and muscle relaxation technique. Practicing meditation twice a day can keep you in between beta and alpha, and beyond helping you sleep, meditation can help you feel relaxed at work, and ready to take on challenges. So, even if you are meditating in the morning, afternoon, or before you go to bed, start with these steps.
Step 1: You can either lay down with a small pillow to support your neck, but make sure your forehead is parallel to the ceiling. Or you can sit on a chair and make sure your feet are flat on the floor, and that your spine is supported. Next get comfortable. It is very important that you get your limbs in the coziest position possible, get out any coughs or sneezes, and attend to any itches! This way you won’t be distracted once you get started.
Step 2: Next you are going to take in ten deep breaths, then exhale ten times slowly. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. When you take in your first breath say the number “one” in your mind. This helps your mind to focus on something so that you’re not distracted by thoughts that might want to break through and distract you from relaxing. Another great trick is to roll in the inhale and imagine that your breath is the tide ebbing back into the ocean. Roll in as you say “one” slowly until you are at the top of your lungs and you can’t inhale any more. As you pull your breath in imagine that it is being pulled to the top of your head. Hold your breath for a few seconds and become conscious of your body. Is your heart racing? Do you feel jittery? Tell your body to calm down, and to relax. In between counting, continue to tell your body to relax. When you exhale imagine your breath stretching out like the flow of the tide over the sand. Breathe in and out of your nose, and when you exhale say “one” again. Do this ten times slowly until you feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed.
Step 3: The third step is called muscle relaxation technique. Sometimes in order to fall asleep a person only requires these two steps! After doing deep breathing you’re going to go through each part of your body and tell it to relax. Sometimes visualizations are helpful, like imagining that you are sinking deeper into the chair or your bed with each suggestion. Or you could imagine your body filling with light and warmth, or maybe filling with darkness and deep sleep. Start with your toes and say, “My left toes are relaxed.” Then focus your attention and consciousness on your left toes, and feel them getting more and more comfortable. From there tell your right toes to relax. Then your ankles, ankles to your knees, and knees to the top of your thighs. Next tell the trunk of your body to relax, then your lower abdomen and lower back. After this tell your fingers, hands, and wrists to relax. Then tell your solar plexus and middle back to relax. Next tell your wrists to your elbows to relax. Then your chest, heart, lungs, upper chest, and upper back and shoulders to relax. Finally focus on the neck, the throat, the face, and the back of and sides of the head, until you reach the top of your head. When you’ve gone over your entire body, once more tell yourself to relax.
If you are still awake say a simple affirmation over and over again slowly, such as, “I am good, and all is well in my world.” Or, “I will have dreams that will show me what I need to focus on in my life.” Or you can say, “I allow my body and mind to enter into sleep.” If your mind is still active enough for affirmations or mantras, it might do well to use guided imagery. Guided imagery is great because it uses a story, symbols and metaphors to usher you into dreams. You can imagine yourself sitting on the beach watching the tides go in and out. Or you can imagine yourself floating on clouds in the sky. As soon as you enter into imagery without words or language, you will be able to more quickly move into REM sleep.
While using deep breathing and muscle relaxation technique might seem simple enough, sometimes we need a bit of extra help. By downloading our app, The Mindbliss Meditation App on your phone, you will have access to guided meditations, relaxing soundscapes, soothing nature sounds, and binaural beats specifically for lulling you into deep sleep.
All of these guided meditations and soothing sounds can help your mind focus on something other than the worries or anxieties of the day.
They will distract your mind and help pull you into another world, one that fits your likes or passions. Deepak Chopra really does say it best about the negative cycle of insomnia. He said, “The biggest reason for insomnia is actually worrying about insomnia. Anxiety of not going to sleep is the biggest cause of not being able to sleep.” This is so true. The more we fret and worry about not being able to sleep, the more we spiral into a wormhole of doubt and fear that we won’t be able to perform at work, or that we won’t be able to make money to pay our rent or to buy food, and before you know it you’ve made yourself homeless in your mind! But of course, this is ridiculous. Fear escalates and spirals out of control because physiologically, your body and brain are not rested.
On a more spiritual or emotional note, meditation is not just helpful for sleep because of its calming and relaxing affects. Meditation is a way to help you become more aware of your world, your relationships, and the things that make you happy, sad, or anxious. Becoming aware of what is truly keeping you up at night can be found through meditation.
In my experience, I have endured insomnia when I was not working the right job, when I was not in the right relationship, or I had forgotten to pursue and work on my dreams and life purpose. Our intuition is key when meditating, and it can keep you awake at night so that you can contemplate the things that need changed in your life. Using meditation during the day to work out these issues will prevent your mind from overthinking or being overactive at night. Whichever way you choose to look at it, with meditation you can’t go wrong, and your life will improve no matter what. 💜
If you would like to get deep restful sleep every night, have a listen to our collection of guided meditations, relaxing soundscapes, soothing nature sounds, and binaural beats specifically for sleep, download the app by clicking HERE from your iPhone or Android.
At Mindbliss we have a large and diverse range of 300 (and growing) quality meditations. We are always hard at work curating the best ones for you. 🙂 We hope you love them. 💜
Let us know how these sleep meditations worked for you, we would love to hear about your experience. 🙂
The Mindbliss Team.