According to the CDC’s latest statistics, more than a third of the U.S. population is sleeping less than seven hours per night. That means that a good amount of Americans are sleep-deprived. Why is this such a big deal? When you’re sleeping, your brain is recalibrating itself, which means it’s working even more than when you’re awake. In order to start each day feeling fresh, focused, and ready for what lies ahead, good sleep is crucial.
But even when someone makes a conscious decision to get more sleep, they still sometimes fail. What you may not realize is that how you prepare for sleep—not just when you’re getting ready for bed, but also throughout the day—makes a huge difference in getting the quality and quantity of rest you need.
As for how to lay the groundwork for good sleep throughout the day, all the things you’ve commonly heard before—no caffeine in the afternoon, avoiding stressful news programs right before bed, powering down electronics a couple of hours before you sleep—will help you achieve a better night’s rest. What and when you eat, how you stimulate or relax your mind, and how much stressful interaction you have can also make an impact. Ideally, the two hours before you hit the hay are spent doing things like reading, meditating, and enjoying quality time with your family. These are all activities that can help you drift off in a positive, relaxed mood, which will only improve the caliber of your sleep.
This introductory meditation, the first of three in our spring Sleep Better Series, will help you prepare your mind for rest through breathing and relaxation techniques. Each month, I’ll be introducing a new meditation to be practiced right before bedtime as often as possible over the next 30 days, all with the aim of helping you sleep better.
In this 10-minute meditation, and the ones that follow, there are going to be some common instructions: Get in a relaxed body position, lay down in bed with your feet about a foot apart and your palms facing up and away from your body. When you have crossed legs, for example, you’re not allowing your muscles to be fully at rest. Once you’ve gotten yourself into this position, turned off the lights, and take a couple of deep breaths. Now, press play.
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