Crickets. Breath. Silence. That’s what sleep sounds like … ideally. But in some cases, it’s more like Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blasting in your brain as you toss and turn. And before you know it, the sunrise creeps through the curtains, illuminating your bloodshot eyes.
“Considering that more than 30 percent of the population suffers from insomnia, if there was a magic pill to take, sleeplessness wouldn’t be the epidemic it is today,” says life coach and mindful meditation specialist Ora Nadrich. “And even though sleeping pills are an option for many people, that’s not the healthiest or most holistic approach to take.”
Instead, Nadrich often recommends meditation as an effective sleep aid. One Harvard University study of 49 middle-aged and older adults who were experiencing insomnia showed that mindfulness meditation at bedtime could curb sleep trouble, fatigue, and depression.
"By [meditating] each night, slumber can become a reality instead of a ‘dream.’” —Ora Nadrich
Try this 9-minute guided meditation by wellness coach Jennifer Partridge to help you relax and fall asleep like that. (Feel free to do it laying down, tucked into bed.)
But before you lay your head on the pillow, here are a few tips from Nadrich that you might want to practice each evening:
- Don’t eat dinner late: According to Nadrich, 7 p.m. is the ideal time to have your last meal in order to give the digestive system a break until morning.
- Cool it on the alcohol: Excessive drinking can reduce REM sleep.
- Avoid stimulants: It’s best to drink coffee and other caffeinated beverages early in the day.
- Stay out of the cookie jar: Sugar is a stimulant. If you have a sweet tooth, indulge earlier in the day—or better yet, abstain if you can.
- Turn off your gadgets: The backlit screen affects melatonin levels. Keep them out of the bedroom if possible.
- Say no to violence on TV: Nadrich says watching violent TV shows or movies can be autohypnotic (meaning it can induce an automatic state of hypnosis), and brutal images can seep into our subconscious and bring on nightmares.
- Kiss and make up: Don’t go to sleep angry. When you fight with your partner, that energy heightens your emotions and can raise your blood pressure, which will definitely keep you awake if it happens before bed.
Once you’ve mastered these behaviors, you’re halfway to drifting off to dreamland. Meditation will get you the rest of the way there.
“When we mindfully prepare ourselves for sleep by adhering to healthy habits before bed, along with a calming meditation, we increase the chances of a better night’s rest,” says Nadrich. “With consistency, this sends a message to our subconscious that we desire sleep, and it takes its direction from us. By doing this each night, slumber can become a reality instead of a ‘dream.’”
Photo credit: Alicia Cho