Love it or loathe it, you’ve probably tried meditating before. And if you haven’t, now is as good a time as any to start.
It’s lauded the world over for its restorative powers, originating largely in Hinduism – but there are references to the practice in a number of religious traditions throughout history.
Meditation promises to train your attention and awareness to achieve mental calmness and clarity. But Eugenie Pepper, wellbeing coach, counsellor and hypnotherapist, says it can do even more than that.
“Meditation has a number of benefits, but one important one is that it can help you to sleep better,” she says.
See, stress, anxiety or depression can be contributing factors when we just can’t get into those deep sleep states which we need to feel rested – whether we are suffering from an inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or insomnia.
“Meditation is a good way to wind down, calming the mind and body to get a restful night’s sleep,” says Eugenie. “Meditation practice can be very helpful as it’s a natural way of relaxing your mind and letting go of the worries of the day.”
When we can slow down all the stuff running through our heads – the stuff that keeps us alert, awake and feeling exhausted – it’s easier to switch off. Meditation helps us let go of the stresses of the day and close all the mental loops that we get caught up in.
“A guided meditation journey is a great way to take your mind beyond the worries and stresses of the day, leading you into a peaceful state of deep relaxation,” says Eugenie. “If we go to bed worried, anxious or highly stressed, this mental state keeps us on high alert making a good night’s sleep hard to achieve.”
Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep improves our productivity and overall wellbeing, too. And, regular meditation has been said to increase our happiness and confidence, reduce stress & anxiety, increase our creativity and develop a positive mindset, improve our health – more on that in a moment – and help us overcome phobias and even break bad habits.
According to Dr Damon Ashworth, a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in treating sleep disorders, “even 10-minutes of meditation a day has been shown to be effective for improving sleep at night.”
“With our hectic lives, we are missing out on crucial hours of sleep each day,” says Eugenie. “As a working mother with the expectation to do it all, it is no wonder we are permanently exhausted.”
Sleep and health are also very inter-related. As with eating well and exercising, getting a good night sleep is vital for us to heal damaged cells, boost our immune system, recover from the day’s activities and recharge our cardiovascular system for the next day.
“When we don’t get enough sleep we don’t give our self the chance to properly rest and heal – it makes us tired and drowsy, affects our memory and makes decision making hard,” says Eugenie. “Being tired contributes to us making poor choices with food and makes us more likely to give in to cravings for sugary foods. The lack of sleep also puts pressure on our nervous system and makes us less able to cope with daily stresses and anxiety.”
As a busy working mum with her own bad sleeping habits, Eugenie teamed up with a friend and ‘meditation guru’ to create a solution – a meditation app called Key for Me. With meditations specifically designed to help ease you into a state of deep relaxation and tranquillity – with a special sleep setting to help you doze off – this app is the perfect tool for meditation novices and pros alike. It’s got deep breathing exercises, calming creative visualisations and positive affirmations to enhance and support your meditation journey, and in turn your sleep.
Click here to download Key for Me from the app store.