Mindfulness for better sleep: 3 easy meditation techniques
Mindfulness has been a bit of a buzzword as of late, but hiding behind the hype is an ancient practice that has arguably never been more relevant than in today’s hyperactive world. Put simply, being mindful is being aware of the present, without judgment. It’s about making the conscious effort to stop worrying about what happened in the past or what could happen in the future.
In a society that encourages us to use every single minute productively, being mindful can be surprisingly difficult! However, meditation can take as little as 10 minutes a day, and can help you become more mindful in everyday life. For those of us willing to take meditation seriously, the list of benefits is impressive: reduced stress and anxiety, better focus, improved creativity, more harmonious relationships and, of course, a deeper, more restorative sleep.
So if you’ve ever found yourself lying awake at night, unable to put a stop to your racing thoughts, try these meditation exercises. They’ll help calm your mind and get you off to sleep.
Breathing and body scan
Once you’re lying comfortably in bed, eyes closed, breathe deeply through the nose and focus your attention on the sensation of the rising and falling of the belly or chest. To help keep your focus, you can count your breaths from 1 to 10, and then again from the top. Try to notice how your body feels – heavy or light – against the mattress, then mentally scan each part of your body, from head to toe. Your mind will most likely try to wander. Don’t beat yourself up if it does, just come back to your breath as an anchoring point.
This technique builds upon breathing meditation and is about creating a mental image that helps you relax. For example, try visualising a light or spark in your chest, expanding more and more as you breathe. What colour is it? How bright does it shine? How far does it go? You determine the answers to these questions.
A more elaborate version of this method is to visualise a peaceful landscape such as a beach or forest or anywhere you like. Be as detailed as you can – what can you see, smell, hear? How does it make you feel? Take yourself on a journey through this scenery until you start drifting off.
With the mantra technique, instead of using your breath or a mental image, you’re turning your attention to a single phrase that you repeat over and over again. Mantra repetition can be a “chant”, whisper or silent (in the thought). Your mantra can be something personal and specific (e.g. “I am grateful for …”), a series of powerful words (e.g. “love”, “joy”), or an inspiring quote (e.g. “Be the change you want to see in the world”). It can even just be a sound. They are no prescribed ways to chant your mantra, and you can alternate with a simple breathing meditation.
And don’t forget that good sleep starts with a comfortable bed. If constant tossing and turning remains an issue, your mattress might be at fault. See our Bedshed experts in store or try our Mattress Selector tool to find the right mattress for your needs.