The Power of Mindfulness for Sleep

If you have ever had a poor night’s sleep, you know just how important our hours of deep rest really are. Not getting enough good quality sleep can impact how we show up in the world. Our mood, our emotions, our work, and our relationships are all areas of life that are impacted by the quality of our hours spent in slumber.

Many people struggle trying to find a healthy and effective solution to their sleep issues. Mindfulness for sleep is one type of practice that costs nothing, can be practiced at any moment, and can support us in drifting off with greater ease. Mindfulness is a simple practice, but it’s power cannot be underestimated.

This comprehensive guide to mindfulness for sleep will explore just how powerful mindfulness sleep meditations really are, covering:

  • What Is Mindfulness?
  • How Mindfulness Can Help Us Sleep Better
  • What Are Mindfulness Sleep Meditations?
  • Before Bed: 3 Ways to Use Mindfulness to Sleep Better
  • 9 Mindfulness Exercises for Sleep

What Is Mindfulness?

Before we consider the power of mindfulness for sleep, it is helpful to understand what mindfulness is and is not. Simply defined, mindfulness is non-judgmental, moment-to-moment awareness. It is typically associated with meditation, which is any type of formal practice that uses a technique to train attention and awareness or to achieve a particular state of mind. Thus, mindfulness meditation is a formal practice of paying non-judgmental attention to our experience.

Though mindfulness is often associated with relaxation, it is not really about relaxation in and of itself. Typically, relaxation occurs as a side effect of mindfulness practice, but the focus is on noticing what our present moment experience is like – whether that be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. 

Many mindfulness sleep meditations blend mindfulness practice with other techniques for cultivating relaxation. However, it is helpful to note that since mindfulness itself can shift the way that we relate to or perceive our experience, it can – in and of itself – support the mind and body to relax. But how is this so?

How Mindfulness Can Help Us Sleep Better

To understand how mindfulness can support us in getting a better night’s sleep, we need to know what some of the barriers to sleep are. One of the best ways to improve sleep is to address the underlying issue where possible, which varies from person to person. Some of the reasons we might struggle with sleep quantity or quantity include:

  • Mental health concerns (i.e. anxiety and depression)
  • High levels of stress
  • Chronic pain or other health conditions
  • Lifestyle or environmental factors
  • Certain medications

For many, mindfulness is an effective technique for addressing some of the underlying factors contributing to sleep issues, such as anxiety, stress, and chronic pain. Mindfulness can also support sleep less directly by guiding us to shift unhealthy lifestyle habits overtime. As our lifestyle habits shift, we might find that so too do our sleep patterns.

To look at some of the more direct ways that mindfulness supports sleep, consider the following:

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