Insomnia Cure: How Meditation Helps You Sleep Better
How Meditation Cures Insomnia, Sleep Problems
Meditators are the world's deepest sleepers, hands down.
Backed by thousands of studies, here's why meditation conquers sleep problems, dominates sleep disorders, while reversing even the worst cases of insomnia.
The "Sleep Molecule" — How Meditation Boosts Melatonin
Since the beginning of time, Earth's natural cycles of light and dark have dictated man's biological clock. In recent decades, however, as modern humans have collectively worked toward becoming a 24 hour-a-day, hyper-productive society, our nights have become ever shorter and shorter.
This unbalancing act, compounded by our newfound love of morning to night screen-time, is taking a heavy biological toll on us all — especially our natural sleep patterns. With excessive light as the "#1 enemy" of melatonin, the fact that we're shutting down our body's production of this critical sleep molecule may well be the most important casualty of this epidemic.
A so-called chemical "superhero," melatonin boosts mood, slows cancer, strengthens immunity, increases longevity, all while helping to prevent over 100 different diseases. And critically important for insomnia sufferers, this chemical is a "must-have" for deep, restful sleep.
Rebalance Your Biology With Meditation
While melatonin is readily available over the counter, boosting this key chemical from within, rather than through supplementation, is a far better long term solution for solving sleep disorders. Then, is there a highly effective, all natural way to do so? Yes, it's called meditation!
From 198% (on average) to 300% (at the extreme!), Rutgers University researchers discovered that experienced meditators had melatonin levels above and beyond the rest of us mere mortals. Perhaps this is why meditation practitioners are known for their "extraordinary" immunity to sleep problem(s)? It's just one of many reasons, at the very least.
If you want to rebalance your biology for night after night of super deep, natural sleep, while waking up feeling fresh and rejuvenated each and every morning — look no further than meditation.
Meditation Cools Insomnia Brainwaves, Boosts Sleep Brainwaves
If you often find yourself staring at your alarm clock when you should be staring at your eyelids — then you likely have a "beta brainwave" excess. Best known as the dominant mental state when we're anxious, stressed, and/or depressed, beta brainwaves kick up more and more dust as our sleepless night wears on. This imbalance will only continue sabotaging our precious shuteye, night after night, unless we find a solution. Luckily, there is!
Rather than nasty insomnia-causing beta waves, studies show that experienced meditators exhibit more of the super-beneficial alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves. These calm and highly pleasurable waves directly cancel out anxious "up-all-night" thought patterns. The result? Great sleep tonight with loads of energy tomorrow.
How Meditation Activates the "Sleep Gateway" of the Brain
Sleep Quality Versus Sleep Quantity
We've all been there before. Hours after getting into bed, bloodshot eyes still staring at the ceiling. With work looming only three hours away, here's to hoping the sandman finally grants our wish.
"I got my eight hours last night, yet today I feel like a zombie. What gives?"
It's not about being in bed for "X" hours. What matters most is "sleep depth." Quality over quantity, not everybody gets what they need.
It is the deeper REM level of sleep where we detoxify blood, repair organs, heal wounds, renew cells, build muscle tissue, and so forth. We need about two hours at this stage every night.
"Wait a minute, I only need two hours of sleep each night? That's easy!"
That's two hours of "deep" REM sleep, buster. Since we spend about 20% of our night in REM, we actually need much more "sleep" to satisfy the requirement. Think 8 to 10 hours. And that's assuming our "doorway to slumberland" is not blocked by a "sleep is for the weak" t-shirt wearing bouncer.
With about one in three adults experiencing insomnia at any given time, hitting that "measly" two hour REM "health & happiness" window is easier said than done.
The Power Of Deep "REM" Sleep
If you find yourself feeling tired, drowsy, or fatigued after what should have been a respectable night of shuteye (i.e. spending 8 hours in bed), then your sleep "depth" may be suffering.
Luckily, scientists have studied the sleeping brain for decades, and have it (pretty well) figured out.
Serving as our noggin's REM on/off switch, the funnily named, brainstem originating "Pons" regulates the main dreamtime chemical: melatonin. Weakness or abnormality within this 2.5 centimeter wide brain region throws sleep an unhittable curveball.
For those of us at war with the sandman, drawing up a strategic battle plan is essential. After all, our mental, emotional, and physical well-being are hanging in the balance.
As the brain's sleepy "four star general," fortifying our "pons" would essentially bring a lifetime of peaceful shuteye to all the land.
Meditation Trains The Sleeping Brain
Thankfully, meditation owns the sandman.
In 2014, a team of Harvard and Stanford University researchers showed that meditation, powered by the magic of neuroplasticity, builds up a big and strong sleep centered "Pons."
In other words, meditation literally molds the brain into a naturally deep sleeping machine.
Regardless of how ravaged your road to slumberland may be, no matter how many potholes your insomnia may have dug over the years, meditation's "lullaby asphalt" will keep your ride silky smooth.
If you want deep sleep every night of the week, then close your eyes to meditation.
How Meditation Quiets the Insomniac Mind
The Worrywart Conscious Mind
We've all crawled under the covers with an unruly mind, cranking-out one thought after another, doing its best to torpedo our much needed shuteye.
Whether it's replaying a conversation that we had, worrying about our next car payment, having an imaginary argument, making a to-do list, stressing over that big work deadline, or whatever else the busybody mind thinks over the course of its estimated 70,000+ thoughts per day — it's our "tip of the iceberg" conscious mind that generates this kind of "insomniac" type of thinking.
But when it comes to deep, restorative sleep, it's all about what's under the surface. Known as the "subconscious" and "unconscious," it's these deep mind layers that hold the vast majority of our potential.
The Deep Mind & Deep Sleep
While our "rush rush rush, pull pull pull" conscious mind chatters away above the surface, our deep mind is always below - seeing, hearing, feeling, and taking it all in. Instead of jumping from thought to thought to thought, our subconscious mind and unconscious mind think slowly, quietly, and deeply.
So meditation works by quieting down our "one-dimensional" conscious mind and bringing our powerful "multi-dimensional" deep mind to the surface. By putting to bed the whirlwind that is the "overthinking" conscious mind, meditation helps our worrywart brain realize that the day is over, while tomorrow is not yet upon us.
With a quiet mind firmly anchored in the present moment, we can fall asleep as soon as our head hits the pillow.
Stressful Thoughts, Shallow Sleep: The Mind's Impact On Sleep Quality
"Falling asleep isn't difficult for me, my problem is that, after getting in a full eight hours, I often feel like I hadn't slept at all. What gives?"
Sometimes, even though we're technically "asleep," our conscious mind will continue its rampage, locking us into a shallow, unrestorative, low quality stage of shuteye.
"Body and mind are one." It's not just a Bruce Lee mantra. Our thoughts are actually powerful "things" that impact us on a physical level — including tensing-up our muscles, increasing our heart rate, "shortening" our breath, and so forth. This happens all day and all night, even while we sleep. Do you know anyone (maybe you?) who grinds their teeth while they sleep? Perfect illustration.
Master Your Mind, Sleep Like a Log
Instead of reacting to our thoughts, or resisting our thoughts, or fighting our thoughts, or chasing after our thoughts, which all cause a stress-response within the body, meditation teaches us to simply let each thought go.
In this way, all thoughts become equally important and equally unimportant. This "taking a step back from the mind" is part of meditation's beauty, and fundamentally transforms how thoughts impact us on a physical level.
When we become immune to stressful thinking, entering the deepest, most restorative levels of sleep, night after night, comes as natural as breathing. And so, instead of waking up in the morning feeling like a zombie, we wake up feeling like a million bucks, ready to hit the day.