For centuries, people have employed a variety of techniques to help them fall asleep faster, and to do so longer. Those techniques have included everything from warm milk to counting sheep to, currently, sleeping pills and supplements like Melatonin. In a quest to fight insomnia and to get the rest that your body undoubtedly needs, people have and will try most anything. So, why not try mindfulness?
Recent studies show that the practice is effective for aiding in sleep, just as it has been effective for therapeutic techniques and used in the past alongside medications to aid in sleep therapy. The reality is, many of the issues preventing sleep are deeper than mere exhaustion. Things like stress and anxiety will impact one’s ability to rest. You’ve probably experienced this before. You get in bed, prepared to go to sleep, and thoughts of what happened during the day, issues pending for days to come, and any other stressors run through your mind, making it more difficult to truly sleep. Mindfulness gives you a chance to take control of such thoughts and to create a better atmosphere that allows sleep to occur.
In the study, researchers used 49 participants with moderate sleep problems and 54 with chronic insomnia. In both cases, mindfulness increased the quality of sleep as diminished disturbances like constant movement or waking up throughout the night. As a result of better sleep during the night, participants remained more alert throughout the day and in better spirits, showing a decrease in the presence of depression. Thus mindfulness essentially aided in two functions: sleep quality and mental health.
Furthermore, the research showed that the process was effective among all age groups, though most studies show it being most beneficial for the elderly. Another group to have responded positively to the practice is veterans. Understandably, many of them have difficulty sleeping, due to post-traumatic stress and accompanying variables which incite insomnia. So, though the research is still in its infancy, quite a few studies are showing a positive correlation between mindfulness as slumber. Since rest is a very necessary part of our lives, finding tools such as mindfulness to aid in improving any related illnesses, is crucial.
At the moment, the primary treatment for disturbances with sleep exists in the form of medication, with brands like Ambien and Lunesta being the most well-known. However, not all prescriptions are effective, and when they are, the side effects pretty much cancel out existing benefits. For Ambien, in particular, side effects include daytime drowsiness, tiredness and headaches. With results like that, it’s practically the same issues one would encounter because of sleep deprivation. While mindfulness is not an absolute guarantee, there are no detrimental effects.
Hopefully with this research and growing body of knowledge lending additional credence to the ancient practice of mindfulness, we’ll see more people benefiting for all types of problems. We all need sleep; it’s how we live, think, grow. Any resource that can improve our ability to do so, is definitely welcome.