Mindfulness: The Natural Sleep Aid Millennials Don't Want to Miss
Guest Author: Lisa Smalls
Nights of staring at the ceiling fan, constantly checking the time, and dreading the sound of my alarm going off are all to familiar to me. For two years after graduating college, I battled insomnia. If you’ve ever experienced insomnia or another sleep disorder, you understand the frustration and anxiety I had with sleep. The consequences of my sleep deprivation infiltrated every aspect of my life—my productivity, mood, immunity— everything. The worst part? I realized how much I took quality sleep for granted before struggling with a sleep disorder. Isn’t it amazing how we don’t understand the value of sleep until it’s gone?
When it comes to sleep, Americans often miss the mark. The CDC estimates that 35 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep each night and nearly 40 percent suffer from some kind of acute or chronic sleeping disorder.
Tackling sleep is one of the most important things a person can do to manage their overall health. Unfortunately, for many suffering from disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and depression sleep can be difficult.
However, one way to overcome sleep deprivation as well as promote a positive and healthy lifestyle is through mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness, as is demonstrated in practices such as yoga and meditation, and is defined as the state of being conscious or aware. Awareness will give you the ability to manage your feelings, thoughts, and sensations while dismissing the uncontrollable aspects of your life.
When a person experiences anxiety—the leading contributor to insomnia—they are often focused on the past which cannot be changed, or the future which is highly unpredictable. By practicing mindfulness, a person focuses on the now—on what they can control.
How does Mindfulness help you sleep?
There are several ways to practice mindfulness from yoga to mindful meditation. According to a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine, even 20 minutes of meditation a day promotes a relaxation response in the body which improves one’s ability to fall and stay asleep more easily.
As mentioned earlier, mindfulness brings your thoughts into the now and allows your mind to delineate from the stressors which cause anxiety that leads to insomnia. Through mindfulness, a person has the ability to focus, relax, and maintain a calm state of mind. This, in turn, will allow for your mind to relax enough to fall asleep.
Other Natural Remedies for Sleep
Sleep may come easy to some, but to others it is a complicated matter resulting in days, weeks, and even years of poor sleep habits. However, along with mindfulness there are a number of other natural remedies to sleep that improve the quality and quantity of shut eye you receive.
Lavender Essential Oil
Essential oils, particularly lavender, prepare your mind and body for sleep through relaxation and calming properties. In fact, research shows the regular application of lavender allows for a more rapid onset of sleep, as well as, a longer duration of sleep.
Hot herbal teas, specifically chamomile, are a comforting drink with soothing heat which provide a great way to wind down after a long day and lead you into a comfortable night of sleep. Chamomile, an ancient herb used for its medicinal properties, has been proven to act as a sedative when in extract form to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, as well as, a treatment for insomnia.
Much like a soothing hot tea, a warm bath provides your body comfort by providing a calming effect. Baths can help you both feel refreshed as well as provide a slow-drawn countdown to your body’s natural sleep rhythms, alerting the rest of your body that it is time for sleep. The reason a warm bath helps induce sleep is due to the rapid drop in body temperature it causes once you get out of the tub, according to researchers.
Sleep is necessary for your body to be able to repair and relax your body as well as allows you to process thoughts, memories, and creativity. Unfortunately, many people suffer from anxiety and depression which can lead to insomnia. The calming effects of mindfulness will not only help you sleep and provide personal awareness but will also provide an optimistic and relaxing focus on your life.
Looking for more info on the importance of sleep? Check out this TED Talk by brain scientist, Matt Walker.
Interested in connecting with Lisa for freelance writing? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org