A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctors book.- Old Irish Proverb.
"They slept profoundly, desperately,greedily, as though for the last time, as though they had been condemned to stay awake forever and had to drink in all the sleep in the world during these last hours." -Hermann Hesse, (Narcissus and Goldmund)
In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can't perform at their peak unless they've slept ten hours.
- The National Sleep Foundation
Most people have suffered insomnia to some degree, at least once in their lives and as we all know, it is an awful problem. Because the more you worry about not being able to get to sleep, the more stressed you become and the less likely you are to be able to sleep. If insomnia is a recurring problem then it can greatly affect your waking life in terms of feeling too exhausted to work effectively and changes in behaviour, such as irritability and anger.
How Mindfulness can help
Mindfulness and meditation can be helpful in relieving insomnia in the following ways:-
- It stops an over active brain and so stops the cycle of worrying about not getting to sleep and then as a result getting stressed
- It reduces the stress hormones in your body, (adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine are the major ones) which would normally cause the awake state to continue for longer.
- It stimulates your body's natural relaxation response, and in in time helps sleep to come more easily.
In a clinical trial to weigh the effects of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme on 30 people with chronic insomnia, the MBSR programme was found to have a large impact on improving their insomnia.
"Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night," Gourineni said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
So mindfulness, such a simple technique, could really have a big impact on the lives of people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, as well as those of us who might suffer from the occasional bad night due to temporary external pressure and stresses.
A good nights sleep in turn helps us to deal better with the day ahead. Some people may find that in the early days of practising mindfulness as an aid to sleep, it only partially alleviates the problem. In this case mindfulness can be used as a technique to help cope with the tension, sluggishness and irritability that is a direct result of lack of sleep. Either way it can be used as a wonderful tool for someone that is having difficulties sleeping bringing them greater peace and a happier more relaxed life.