After a long day at the office, you yearn for a night of much-needed rest. You’re tired, sleepy, and waiting for that very precious moment when your head finally hits the pillow. Instead, you find yourself thinking about endless to-do lists and remembering past conversations. The results? You aren’t able to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Experts recommend dedicating time to unwind during the evening to prepare your mind for a peaceful slumber. Meditation happens to be an excellent way to achieve this!
What happens to the body when we fall asleep?
Sleep consists of two main phases — REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. We spend nearly a quarter of our sleeping lives in the REM phase. It’s a period of potent brain activity marked by lucid dreams we remember the next morning. Apart from giving us fantastic dream sequences, this phase is responsible for processing memories and consolidating information. Ever wondered why babies sleep so much? It’s because their entire days are full of brand new experiences their developing brains need to process.
Non-REM sleep is believed to have three distinctive stages. These phases grow gradually deeper throughout the night until it becomes really hard to be disturbed from our precious sleep. During this time, the body works to lower the heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature.
Although there have been many discoveries about sleep, this phenomenon remains a mystery. Scientists struggle to pinpoint a concrete reason as to why animals and human beings need to sleep every night. Yet, it’s safe to say that sleeping offers the body a chance to recover from daily life and facilitates memory and learning.
Benefits of sleep
Greater long-term memory
When you are awake, your mind captures small snapshots of your everyday life experiences. This includes everything that you read, hear, or say during a meeting or a lecture. Then, as you sleep, the brain replays these events just like videos. Furthermore, it builds new neural connections to transform the experiences into long-term memories that you will remember weeks and weeks later.
Sleep triggers changes in the brain that solidify memories. It strengthens connections between cells and transfers information from one brain hemisphere to the other. Scientists believe that while we sleep, our memories and skills shift to more efficient and permanent brain regions, enhancing proficiency the next day. Research also indicates that when people learn before going to sleep, they remember information in the long term.
Science has proven that those who enjoy deep, restful sleep are more likely to be in shape and stick to healthy eating habits. Research at the University of Chicago found that well-rested dieters lost more fat (56% of their weight loss) than those who were sleep-deprived. What’s more, dieters who got less sleep time felt hungrier. Tired of yo-yo diets, killer workouts, and slimming shakes? You might as well try going to bed earlier!
Better immune function
Although sleeping more won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it can impact your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to disease. This happens because, without sufficient sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines. The former is a special kind of protein produced during sleep. Cytokines are known for targeting inflammation and infection, effectively creating an immune response.
Emotions and social interactions
Imagine reading a customer or a colleague’s emotions perfectly. This can be possible when your attention is at 100% capacity after a good night’s sleep. In fact, several studies have confirmed, through facial recognition tests, that well-rested people are better at reading social and emotional cues.
Sleeping problems: why is it so hard to fall asleep in the 21st century?
You might know that person who believes “sleeping is for the dead” or if you snooze, you lose. Or, perhaps this might be you! The truth is that, in the 21st century, many of us have forgotten what good sleep is truly like.
Making sleep a priority is particularly difficult in a world dominated by stimulants such as coffee, energy drinks, urban noises, and external lights. The use of electronic devices complicates things more as they interfere with our circadian rhythm or natural sleep/week cycle.
Of course, most sleep-deprived people are not happy with their situations and don’t sleep because they don’t want to. We know how it goes. Sometimes, we cannot fall asleep or stay asleep due to biological forces and lifestyle choices. It could be that the moment your head hits the pillow, your mind suddenly starts racing. Those thoughts have always been there, however, without distractions, you become more aware of them.
What happens when we cannot sleep
If you have spent the night tossing, turning, and with a mind full of racing thoughts, you already know how it will go the next day — you are grumpy, sore, and exhausted. Other typical short-term effects of sleep deprivation include excessive sleepiness, yawning, irritability, and daytime fatigue. However, missing out on your average 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night affects much more than just your general mood. Not only does it drain your mental abilities, but it also puts your physical health at risk. In the long-term, you risk developing obesity, respiratory problems, a weak immune system, digestion problems, and many more.
What is meditation for sleep?
If you struggle with sleep, there’s a solution. It’s not sleeping pills or hypnosis, but rather sleep meditation — a powerful method for reducing sleepless nights by training the mind to be less stuck in racing thoughts and be more aware of the present moment. Once we hit our pillows, racing thoughts and worries begin to flood our minds. Luckily, meditative practices can control them.
When talking about deep sleep meditation specifically, we’re referring to an ancient technique that produces a state of deep relaxation. It is called Yoga Nidra, which in Sanskrit, means sleep. Those who wish to achieve a relaxed mind and body holistically are often drawn to meditation for sleep.
The experience of sleep meditation usually involves a journey that offers a natural sleep aid. This allows us to let go of the day to settle everything that happened during the day. So the mind can rest while simultaneously resting the body. Scientifically speaking, meditation helps our bodies by lowering the heart rate through the ignition of the parasympathetic nervous system. This leads to a deep relaxation state, which encourages lower breathing, hence maximizing the quality of a good night’s sleep.
Related: This is the Missing Step in Your Sleep Hygiene Routine
Science and deep-sleep meditation
A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine included 49 middle-aged participants who had trouble falling asleep. Half completed a mindfulness-awareness program, which taught them meditation and other mindfulness exercises. Meanwhile, the other half completed a sleep meditation class that educated them on ways to improve their sleeping habits.
The study organized group meetings, once a week for approximately two hours. Compared with the group that attended the sleep education class, the group of meditators experienced less insomnia, depression, and fatigue at the end of the six sessions. The outstanding results were not a surprise for Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” he said.
Dr. Benson recommends mindfulness practice ideally for 20 minutes per day, just the same amount suggested in the new study. “The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation. That way, it’s easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep. The relaxation response is so relaxing that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving (like yoga or tai chi) to avoid nodding off.”
Try our advanced meditation technology
Synctuition is the culmination of a decade of work by the world’s leading neurologists, psychologists, musicians, and meditation experts. And there’s more! Years of research and development have made Synctuition the most effective and non-invasive method for helping you fall asleep easily and naturally.
The Synctuition team has analyzed the latest research on stress and audio therapy to isolate the sounds that work best to calm the mind. Based on this research, the team spent years recording and composing Synctuition’s audio journeys to form the perfect formula of:
- Over 13,000 three-dimensional sounds
- Nature sounds and instrumental music from over 2,000 locations around the world
- Background binaural beats in the gamma frequency
The result is a groundbreaking sound meditation experience that lowers stress and clears your mind from negativity, facilitating high-quality sleep. What’s more, listening to our beautiful sound journeys helps you enjoy many other positive benefits including more motivation, mindfulness, and a strong sense of intuition.
Ready for deep-sleep meditation?
Deep relaxation is the key to achieving restorative sleep. Good sleep habits have been proven to carry many health benefits that allow us to function more efficiently. Not to mention, live a longer, more prosperous life. To experience the many benefits of sleep, meditate with Synctuition’s immersive sound journeys.