DO YOU STRUGGLE TO SLEEP?
The average person sleeps for 25 years of their life. Sleep plays a massive role in our quality of life and even the quantity of time we are alive. A lack of sleep has been linked with weight gain, heart disease and strokes, depression, reduced concentration, productivity and other mental, emotional and physical issues that any person would rather avoid - if given the choice.
Good sleep has been found to improve the immune system, reduce inflammation within the body, make us inclined to eat better, encourage a positive mindset and allow us to perform at our best during work and play. It's therefore vitally important if you are experiencing insomnia or waking up tired - irrespective of how many hours of sleep you get - that you are proactive in experiencing the best rest and sleep patterns possible.
SANDY'S BEDTIME STORY:
In the past if I couldn’t get to sleep, I would lie awake worrying about how tired I would be the next day. Can you relate to this? Laying in the darkness of the bedroom I would be left alone with my thoughts and emotions, which always seemed louder, scarier and more intense at night. I would often need to distract myself from my meandering mind by having the television or radio on. Do you do this?
All of this never made for a peaceful entry into the realm of sleep. On the contrary - the stressful thinking, emotional struggle and visual/auditory stimulation was highly counterproductive to my desired goal of getting a good night's sleep. When I did eventually fall asleep, it would take my mind-body more time to access the deepest levels of rest - when the stresses of the day could be released and my body engage its vital healing activities - thus allowing sleep to serve its positive purposes.
PINEAL GLAND MEDITATION FOR SLEEP
The pineal is the master gland, and activating it helps regulate the hormones in the body and is extremely powerful for self-healing and sleep. This meditation takes about 15 minutes and should ONLY be done in the evening, preferably when you are ready to go to sleep. It can be done lying down or sitting up and has been proven very useful for people with sleep problems like insomnia; they will frequently fall asleep before the 15 minutes is up and enjoy a restful sleep.
For this meditation you will be placing your attention upon and visualising (best you can) the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It's shape resembles a pine cone. It is located in the epithalamus, near the centre of the brain (level with the eyes), between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two halves of the thalamus join.
TOP TIP: Although you may be using this meditation to get to sleep, please don't force sleep - as any 'trying to get to sleep' will keep you awake. Instead, simply do the meditation every night for a minimum of one month before judging its effectiveness.
Do this 15 minutes meditation when you are in bed and ready to go to sleep. Even if you don't fall asleep on the first few attempts, keep doing it as it will give your body great rest.
1) For the first five minutes, focus on your breathing. Each breath should be through the nose and all breathing should be done with the belly and not with the chest. Try to make each breath smoother and more even than the last. Spend the same amount of time on the in and out breath. Keep your breath connected, flowing, and smooth.
2) For the second five minutes, keep the breath smooth and envision the inward portion of the breath entering the nostrils and lighting up the pineal gland in the center of the skull like an intensely bright light. Whether you actually see the bright light or not isn't important. On the out breath envision that the pineal gland is sending the whole body what it needs to be healthy. If there is a specific issue that needs healing, you can focus the attention on just that part of the body.
3) For the final five minutes, continue the same method for the in breath, but make a sound on the out breath. At first this should be loud enough so you can hear it clearly, but with practice you can intone the sound quietly enough that someone sitting 15 feet away from you wouldn't be able to hear it. There are different sounds you can use, depending on what needs healing. If you don't have any specific problems, use one of the sounds for your whole body like OM.
If you are not asleep by the time you've done the first 15 minutes, then gently repeat steps 1 and 2.
Here's a specially selected collection of past Workshops that are relevant for enjoying better sleep:
1) THE ART + SCIENCE OF SLEEP. This workshop includes guest expert Charlie Morley - lucid dreaming and sleep expert. It can help you to overcome many of the mainstream myths surrounding sleep.
2) THE MINDFUL WAY TO RESTFUL SLEEP. This workshops includes guest expert Charlie Morley - lucid dreaming and sleep expert. Charlie talks about the different kinds of sleep and shares mindful ways to get to sleep without counting sheep.
HOW DOES SANDY GET TO SLEEP?
So how do I get to sleep these days? With the deep knowing that my body and mind gain a massive amount of rest from meditation, I get into bed, turn the light off and start meditating. I either do the Pineal Gland Meditation or Mind Calm, Body Calm or Ascension Meditation. Sometimes I fall asleep super quick, sometimes if my mind happens to be busier then I meditate to be at peace with any thoughts or emotions happening, and some nights I have an amazingly clear and calm meditation.
Irrespective of what happens, knowing meditation gives my mind and body amazing rest has liberated me from worrying about how fast I’m getting to sleep or if I'm having enough hours. In short, instead of counting sheep, worrying, avoiding feelings or needing to rely on external distractions, I invite you to meditate your way into the best night's rest.
MEDITATION + SLEEP
Using meditation as you fall asleep at night can help you enter sleep at a deeper level and experience a better quality of rest. Personally, I used to need my 8+ hours of sleep every night or I would end up exhausted or sick. However, these days I meditate throughout the day with my eyes open (which helps to maintain a relaxed and low-stress physiological and psychological state), and I also meditate as I fall asleep at night (which helps me enter sleep in a more calm state).
With this powerful combination I find that I don’t need as many hours as I used to in order to feel full of energy the next day. This saves time and helps me get more done during the day, provides my mind and body with the quality rest it needs to function and be well, and has had an unexpected benefit of improving my relationship with sleep. If I sleep - great. If I get a few hours of meditation done - which is also proven to provide rest and healing to my mind and body - great!
When meditating yourself to sleep, instead of using the 10 Mind Calm or Body Calm Thoughts, you can use this Calm Thought:
'I am at peace with being peaceful'.
TOP TIPS FOR SLEEPING WELL
From around 60 minutes before you want to sleep, lower the brightness of the lighting within your home. Avoid the use of electronic devices with screens. Limit what you use your bedroom for i.e. avoid working or watch television etc. Make your bedroom a safe and secure sanctuary for sleep.
By far the best bedroom colour for enjoying a good night sleep is blue. Blue is a calming colour. But more importantly, your brain is especially receptive to the colour blue, due to special receptors in your retinas called ganglion cells. These are sensitive to blue more than any other colour, so when they see it they send a message to your brain that you’re in a calm environment, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
According to a Travelodge survey of 2,000 Britons, those who have blue bedrooms enjoy an average of 7 hours and 52 minutes of sleep each night.