by Brooke Faulkner
Last night’s bedtime struggle was no different than any other night. The ritual of of quieting the monkey mind while laying there tossing and turning ensued. I woke up during the middle of the night for an hour or so, which is also typical.
Anyone who can’t go to sleep or wakes up in the wee hours knows how brutal this can be. So, I tried something new:
I thought about mentally massaging my physical body, starting with the head and working my way down to the toes. I wasn’t thinking about anything but relaxation, even though I wasn’t actually being touched. I felt the gray particles float into the air and dissipate. It was peaceful. Maybe it sounds kind of weird, but it worked.
The mind is a powerful thing. If you have the power to plug in during the day, you have the same ability to unplug at night or any other time for that matter.
In addition to the mental massage technique listed above, here are some other mindful tips to help with swirling, worrying, sleep-inhibiting thoughts.
Feel & Breathe
We fight our feelings all the time. It’s instinctive to resist and push thoughts out of our heads, only to see them resurface over and over. We might as well feel our feelings by identifying the exact feeling, confront it by being honest, acknowledge that feeling, accept it, and then release it! The next time that same thought comes up, you’ll already know what to do and it won’t be such a struggle.
The next thing to try is focusing on your breathing. Feel your chest and stomach rise and fall, and listen to yourself breathe. It doesn’t matter if your mind wanders. There’s no need to worry about whether you’re doing it right or if it’s working. Just go gently back to breathing. You’ll melt into your mattress eventually.
Mindful meditation involving breathing techniques allows you to focus on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or the future. The focus is typically on one area of the body or the movement of breath. Easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot.
Social Media & Technology
Do you find yourself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram while laying there in the dark trying to sleep? Too much technology right before bed decreases quality of sleep and contribute to varying health conditions, including anxiety and heart disease.
Researchers found that internet use was making people delay sleep by more than 100 minutes every day and causing them to wake up 90 minutes later, according to a 2016 study by the Service for Healthy Use of Technology.
In a study about social media and wellbeing, 1700 participants between 19-32 years of age were interviewed. Nearly 30 percent of people showed high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented strong signs of depression. The higher the engagement on social media, the more sleep was affected.
On the other hand, it’s possible to use technology to help us improve sleep patterns and awareness with the use of apps and wearable devices. Technology in healthcare can save lives and preserve health. The two key elements are self management and data collection. Whether people are tracking blood glucose levels, sleep patterns or even running miles, adjusting behavior based on the results is possible.
At the end of the day, getting restful sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise. Add mindfulness to your bedtime routine and you could find a more peaceful and uninterrupted night of Zzzzz’s.