Is sleep meditation the answer to getting a better night’s sleep during lockdown?

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  • It's World Wellbeing Week, so we're exploring whether sleeping meditation could be the key to an improved sleeping pattern. From what it actually means to how it's performed, here's everything you need to know...

    Words by Emma Richards

    Coronavirus is changing life as we know it, and as we continue in lockdown, it is hardly surprising that there is a huge increase in sleep difficulties. In a bid to gain a bit more shut-eye, we look into sleep meditation and whether it actually works.

    What is sleep meditation?

    Sleep meditation is a state between being awake and sleeping, where you put yourself in a ‘yodic sleep’, essentially a state in which the body is completely relaxed but mentally aware. Known as Yoga Nidra (meaning sleep in Sanskrit), it is used as a relaxation method (or meditation) for the mind, body and soul.

    What’s the difference between sleep meditation and normal sleep?

    The difference between normal sleep and Yoga Nidra (sleep meditation) is that during sleep, your subconscious mind takes over, whereas with Yoga Nidra, your conscious mind is awake and alert. Another key difference is that during sleep, your subconscious mind cannot leave behind your worries and stress, but during Yoga Nidra, your conscious mind can, making it a form of sleep therapy.

    ‘Yoga Nidra can also offer tools to induce sleep organically, following the workings of your own mind’, explained Yoga Nidra teacher, Jennifer Piercy.

    How can I do sleep meditation?

    It is common for people to practice sleep meditation with a guided audio track, usually using a 45-50 minute session CD.

    6 steps to perform sleep meditation:

    1. Loosen up your body and settle down in a quite space.

    2. Make a resolution to get from this meditation time so you finish feeling satisfied.

    3. Your mind should visit all parts of your body helping to relax them slowly, making you aware of your body parts and how they function.

    4. Breathe slowly and through the nostrils only, this helps your body parts loose their sensitivity. You should feel light and relaxed.

    5. You must think about the positive emotions and happy memories.

    6. Visualise pleasing scenes to get rid of any left over tensions that you may feel.

    Is sleep meditation a substitute for sleep?

    Sleep Meditation is not a substitute for sleep, they both have their own benefits. If sleep meditation is practiced right then it can enhance the quality of sleep you get.

    If you are concerned about how little you are sleeping, contact your GP.

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