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Sleep is one of the most fundamentally important aspects of our day. As important as that meeting, appointment, dinner party, or event in your planner is, it won’t be worth much if you aren’t well-rested.
As people, we are literally wired to operate off of rest and sleep. Our bodies are constantly using energy and fuel all day long and our brains are no different. In fact, it takes on average 120 grams of glucose to fuel the human mind each day. That is a substantial amount of food and energy!
That’s because, just like our bodies work throughout the day, our minds are constantly working. However, where the body can physically be brought into a state of rest, the mind is another story.
It’s not too difficult to understand that we are tired and opt for a weekend spent binge-watching television and getting caught up on our favorite shows. With proper restorative activities sprinkled in, resting your body is an easily attainable goal. However, learning how to rest your mind is another beast altogether.
For some of us, it may feel like we can never truly switch our brains off and this results in a build-up of stress that can lead to anxiety. This is where sleep can do what no other activity can do — it can refresh not only our bodies but also our minds.
The symptoms of sleep deprivation can be extreme, affecting multiple bodily systems and even being linked to mental and emotional issues. So, how do you get better sleep? Meditating in bed (and taking a sleep-supporting supplement) may be able to help!
When we sleep, we do so in cycles that are composed of four stages. Each stage has a specific role and benefit to our system. These cycles on average take about 90 minutes to complete and most people will experience 4-6 sleep cycles per night depending on how long they spend sleeping.
Each stage of the sleep cycle is either spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep or non-REM sleep. The first three stages of the sleep cycle are spent in non-REM (N1-N3) sleep and deal with the body relaxing, powering down, and getting ready for REM. The first two stages of non-REM sleep are not considered deep sleep, but are prepping the body for deep sleep. These stages are very important for setting the stage for when your body will experience natural paralysis, deep muscle relaxation, and mental activity. The last two stages, N3 and REM, are composed of deep sleep.
The first stage, N1, of the sleep cycle is dedicated entirely to the process of drifting off into sleep. According to consumer reports, 27 percent of the current population reported having trouble falling asleep at night. This means that having problems with passing through stage one of the sleep cycle is not uncommon.
For many people, the process of lying awake in bed for hours is one they know all too well. So, what can be done to help increase a person’s ability to fall asleep and pass stage one?
If you have trouble falling asleep, chances are your challenges are not actually just in your bed. Preparing for bed looks like planning your day to allow you to sleep. This means restructuring your time to allow you to get your work done, see your friends, eat a healthy meal, and do all of this while working in at least an hour or so of buffer zone to wind down.
This also looks like limiting your exposure to the blue light of screens and being careful not to drink caffeinated beverages too late in the day. Alcohol is also the enemy of good sleep, and while it may wind you down, giving your body enough time to process the alcohol before bedtime is paramount to a good night's sleep.
Supplements are also another safe, easy way to prepare yourself for sleep. Organic, natural ingredients like chamomile and passion flower have been used for years and years to help people relax and unwind.
Our Unwind Capsule utilizes these same high-quality ingredients and others to help you prepare to get the rest you deserve.
Sleep hygiene is the concept that your entire environment will affect how you sleep.
A way to take control of this is to make sure that your room reflects the kind of energy that will help you overcome feelings of anxiety and wind down. This may bring back childhood trauma, but cleaning your room can really have a huge effect on your sleep state. Ensuring that your room, bed, and overall environment is set up to help you experience success in relaxing after a long day is a great tool to help you fall asleep.
Meditation is a skill and a practice that has long been linked to helping people relax and relieve stress, and thus, fall asleep. This practice has been linked to helping people’s minds wind down, calm, and rest. The most important thing to understand about your meditation practice is that it is, in fact, a practice.
Mindfulness and meditation, like any other skill, must be practiced. Just like learning a new sport for the first time, you probably won’t be good right off the bat, and that’s okay!
The benefits of meditation and practicing mindfulness also grow as your skill level with them grows. At first, it may seem overwhelming because your mind will be racing, and trying to focus can seem like a huge chore, but you will get better and better at it!
One way to ease into your meditation practice is through a guided sleep meditation. Guided meditation uses external sounds like others' voices, nature sounds, or music to help you through your meditative session. This may even feel like hypnosis at times, especially when using music optimized for slow wave sleep.
These meditations often use descriptive imagery and visualization to guide you into a relaxation response, or they'll ask you to focus on a singular mantra to guide you through your meditation routine. You can incorporate mantra meditation throughout the daytime as well, anytime you need to ground or rediscover gratitude.
They may also utilize breathwork, encouraging you to focus on each inhalation and exhale. Feeling your belly rising, then experiencing the falling of your belly, can help slow your heart rate to prepare you for quality sleep. Similarly, an instructor (virtual or during an in-person sleep education class) can guide your breathing through alternate nostrils.
After trying these new sleep habits, you'll sink deeply into your pillow and mattress for a calm and restorative rest.
Mindfulness can be a great tool to use when learning meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves getting comfortable in bed and simply turning your attention to your body. Feeling it, paying attention to it, and focusing on it in its entirety.
A body scan meditation may help ease your pre-bed worries, reduce your cortisol levels, and ease your parasympathetic nervous system. Those of you who practice yoga may find this similar to savasana, or corpse pose. Laying on your lower back, move your attention from your toes, up your legs, through your buttocks and spine. Focus on relaxing each part of your body as you lift your awareness through your palms, then into your head and neck.
Meditation is something that will take time to master however it has big payoffs in the end for your physical and mental health. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to help you meditate at night and focus your energy and attention away from the day you just had or the one that is to come.
Learning how to be present in your bed and preparing your mind for rest will have deep health benefits and the most important part of this journey is to not stop learning how to grow in this vital skill.