When a patient asks their doctor for advice on sleep improvement, many physicians will offer sleep hygiene tips like having a tranquil bedroom environment or avoiding stimulants (caffeine or nicotine) at night. While these tips are helpful, a new study shows that mindful awareness practices may be a better solution.
In a Los Angeles study, researchers studied a group of older patients (with an average age of 66) who suffered from sleep disturbances. Half of the group took a six-week sleep hygiene education (SHE) course and the other half studied mindful awareness practices (MAPs) for six weeks. The SHE group learned about sleep problems, relaxation methods, and behavioral strategies. The MAPs group took a standardized mindful course from an instructor, in which mindful practices of daily life was discussed. The MAPs group was also told to meditate for five to twenty minutes daily. The one thing the MAPs group didn’t discuss was sleep.
Both of these programs proved to be beneficial. At the end of the study, researchers found that the MAPs groups showed sleep improvement relative to the SHE group—but that’s not all. The mindful lessons that are taught in mindful awareness programs can also be applied to other parts of daily life, like fostering better relationships, which makes for a better well-rounded experience.
Mindful Sleeping Tips
We could all use more rest and sleep, no matter how old we are. Read below for Mindful sleeping tips that can benefit your life.
- Body scan meditation. Before bed, try doing a body scan meditation. Sit comfortably on the floor, in a quiet space, for ten to thirty minutes. Close your eyes and scan your body for any tension or strain. Clear your mind, imagine you’re going on a tour of your body, and mentally scan your body. Afterward, you should feel relaxed and ready for bed afterwards.
- Mindful movement exercises. While quieting your mind and stilling your body can help with sleep, mindful movements can also help as well. Mindful movement exercises like tai chi and yoga are common examples. You can take classes or follow simple guides online. These movements can help you relax before bed.
- Take a mindfulness sleep meditation course. While practicing mindful awareness on your own is great, the researchers from the Los Angeles study suggest finding a teacher. They suggest that people will benefit more from a standardized course from an experienced mindfulness instructor. If you’re interested in a stress seminar, find more information here.