Meditation triggers many neurological benefits: it improves focus, reduces anxiety, and stimulates relaxation in the nervous system. Millions of Americans struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep on a nightly basis and meditation can be a powerful tool in combating a variety of sleep issues. How exactly does meditation improve sleep fitness?
Faster sleep onset
Mindfulness meditation encourages us to focus on our breath and become intune with the present moment. This directs thoughts away from anxiety about the future, which is a common reason people are kept awake at night. With just 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day, our body learns to trigger its relaxation response more readily, allowing us to fall asleep faster.
A recent Harvard study focused on adults who struggled sleeping. Half of them partook in a 6-week mindfulness meditation program and the other half partook in a 6-week sleep education course. The group who finished the mindfulness meditation program reported less fatigue and depression than their counterparts, and reduced Insomnia symptoms, leading to faster sleep onset.
Increased melatonin levels
Melatonin is often used in the management of sleep rhythm disorders due to jetlag, shiftwork, and insomnia. Amazingly, meditation before sleep can naturally increase melatonin production, allowing our bodies to fall asleep more easily.
Higher quality sleep
A study showed those who meditate regularly spend more time in slow wave sleep (SWS) and have enhanced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Meditation ushers the body into a relaxed state; it has been proven to lower heart rate and improve your heart rate volatility (HRV), which is linked to a balanced autonomic nervous system and your ability to recover. These benefits also improve the quality of your rest.
Long term sleep benefits
Aging can reduce the quality of slow wave sleep, however regular meditation can even prevent age associated sleep quality decline. Neural analysis of older aged people who meditated regularly for many years showed they retained sleep patterns similar to younger, non-meditating controls, defying typical age-related sleep decline.
Meditation helps regulate blood flow, positively modulate sleep cycles, and triggers a powerful relaxation response in the nervous system. By allowing you to fall asleep faster and improving the quality of your sleep, meditation is a powerful way to bolster your sleep fitness and address sleep related issues.