Poor sleep patterns are linked to higher levels of LDL cholesterol. Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to enjoying your day, having your body function well and almost every aspect of your health. With that in mind, we’re always looking for ways to improve our sleep.
According to new research from Singapore, mindfulness training can improve sleep quality and reduce episodes of insomnia. The researchers compared the sleep outcomes of two groups of older adults. One group was trained in Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia (MBTI) while the other when through a Sleep Hygiene, Education, and Exercise Programme (SHEEP). The participants were trained for eight weeks in either MBTI or SHEEP.
The MBTI training included mindful eating, breathing, sitting, moving and mental exercises. They met for group discussions about how they were doing and their experiences with the training. The people being trained in SHEEP also had group discussions about their progress. But, they were being taught about behavioral changes, monitoring their sleep and the biology of sleep. The SHEEP group was also taught progressive muscle relaxation techniques and stretching routines designed to promote sleep.
Both groups saw improvements in their sleep. But, the MBTI group came out on top. They had less insomnia, fell asleep faster and woke up less in the night. The researchers explained that insomnia is closely linked to the body’s fight-or-flight response and how much stress you carry throughout the day. While SHEEP addresses sleep problems, MBTI helps sleep and your overall stress, making your mind and body “turn off” faster when you get into bed.
If you are someone who enjoys meditation, practicing meditation before bed may help you get some extra z’s. Meditation can increase the sleep hormone melatonin, lower your heart rate and blood pressure and impact the areas of the brain that influence sleep. All of which can help you get a better night! While meditation can be a part of mindfulness, it doesn’t have to be. So, if you have tried meditation and it isn’t your speed, it isn’t a deal-breaker. But it’s worth trying if you haven’t given it a chance in the past.
This research is great news as mindfulness can be another tool to help improve sleep as medications have been proven ineffective in the long run. If you frequently have problems sleeping, don’t dismiss it. Speak to your doctor. Insomnia and poor sleep quality can be treated without medication. Getting a better night can lead to better health across the board. Learn what tools might be available to you. And, remember, learning more about mindfulness is free and easily accessible.