By now, you’ve hopefully gotten accustomed to preparing your body and mind for sleep by using breathing and counting exercises to clear your head. If you haven’t, check out the first 10-minute meditation in our spring Better Sleep Series here. Next up, we’re focusing on improving the quality of your shuteye to help you feel more rested.
Have you ever gotten seven to eight hours a night and woken up feeling like you haven’t slept a wink? Most likely it’s because you didn’t spend much time in a deep sleep state—the third phase of sleep. The first two phases, preceding deep sleep, are waking and dreaming. Reaching deep sleep is optimal for feeling recharged. This meditation’s mission is to maximize your duration in this state.
To go into deep sleep, a few things need to happen. First, your body needs to be at total rest. Second, your mind also needs to be free of thoughts, which naturally happens when you’re asleep. Third, your mind needs to be relaxed. That means when you’re falling asleep, and in the hours before bedtime, you’re not having any stressful, worrying, or negative thoughts. These types of thoughts encourage your mind to stay at a surface level during sleep because they’re keeping you in a stimulated, agitated state rather than a calm one.
In this meditation, we’ll achieve these three requirements together. You’ll learn to run through a mental checklist to assess whether you’re really truly relaxed and ready to go to bed. You’ll start by checking your body: Where are you holding tension? Where can that tension be released? Then, you’ll check your mind: What is your state of mind? Are you carrying any mental burdens at this given moment? Next, you’ll check your breath: Is it in your throat, chest, or belly?
Lastly, it’s important to always have some happy thoughts or memories before you doze off to help counterbalance anything stressful that happened during the day. Since people normally wake up in the morning with the same thoughts they had when they fell sleep, this is even more crucial. Positive thoughts not only impact your ability to reach deep sleep, but also the entire following day. Though I won’t prompt you to think positive thoughts during the actual meditation, I will encourage you to turn your attention to something you’re grateful for or happy about should you find your mind wandering in the moments before you fall asleep.
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