How Meditation Trains the Brain to Sleep Extra Deep
The "Sleep Gateway" Pons — How Meditation Ends Insomnia
Sleep Quality Versus Sleep Quantity
We have 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.
Sleeplessness is not just a minor inconvenience. With our productivity, mood, energy, and health taking a roundhouse kick to the clavicle, chronic insomnia can really crimp our potential.
"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.