Making time to unwind before bed is essential for higher quality sleep.
Along with a sleep-friendly bedroom environment, creating the right mindset is key to getting quality sleep at night. After all, it’s hard to relax when you’re still thinking about work deadlines or disagreements with family members in the minutes before bed. Mindfulness and meditation are two ways to help you create the right mindset for sleep.
Mindfulness is another way to say that you are aware of your surroundings and intentionally focusing your thoughts—in this case, on feelings of calmness. That means putting away your smart phone, signing off of social media, and shutting off the TV, so you can turn your attention to being present in the moment.
To practice mindfulness, start by lying in bed and simply observing the thoughts that come to your mind. With every thought, picture a cloud floating by in the sky. Rather than stopping to dwell on these clouds, watch as they pass by and disappear, allowing more thought clouds to follow. The goal is to keep your focus on the here and now. Feel the softness of your sheets, hear the sounds of gentle music or white noise, and listen to yourself breathing in and out.
Mindfulness is related to meditation, the practice of channeling your thoughts and energy into a particular idea, object, or action. You might focus on your breath, or a certain word or mantra, or a bodily sensation over a period of time. Meditation has been found to be widely helpful in those with insomnia and may provide a natural way to fall asleep faster.
To try meditation, sit on or near your bed, legs crossed (if you can do so comfortably), eyes closed. As you feel yourself breathing in and out deeply, pick a word that signifies sleep, such as “relax” or “calm.” Focus on this word as you sit, bringing yourself back to the word every time your mind begins to wander. Start by practicing this for 5 minutes a day. As you get comfortable with the practice, aim for 10 and then 15 minutes at a time to set the intention for a good night’s sleep.