Mindfulness is currently on-trend with dozens of apps, books and programmes targeting people who feel their lives are hectic and out of control. With leading magazines and gurus all claiming that Mindfulness has aided in personal development, relationships and improvements at work, can Mindfulness really help with everything - even sleep?
There’s a strong case for restful times. Many of us plan poorly and don’t allow time to disconnect from the day or we are victims of the increasing disruptions of modern technology. Our connected lives mean that we rarely look up from our screens - just take a look at a platform at a train station and you’ll see the glow of smartphones in your fellow commuters faces (we’re not ignoring the fact that you could be reading this on your smartphone right now however).
Mindfulness (or simply relaxation and focus) has been shown to help improve sleep with better regulation.
Mindfulness: a definition:
The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something."Their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is nothing new. It’s an ancient tradition which has brought calm and focus to many. It’s achieving recognition and adoption more and more because our lives are ‘out of control’ and more importantly out of balance. At Tweak, we place emphasis on gaining balance and control in your life. Our founder, Charlie Oulton spent many years looking at ways to improve his poor sleep, and mindfulness played a small part in his progress.
In a number of research programmes, mindfulness was shown to improve insomnia, fatigue and depression. Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson
No quick fix
Mindfulness isn’t going to rectify your sleep problems overnight. Just like we suggest small ‘tweaks’ to your life to improve your sleep, mindfulness sessions don’t have to take over your life. Try short periods at first before building up to longer sessions. Most practitioners of mindfulness spend around 30 minutes a day - that could be when you first get up or just before you go to sleep. Add in our tips such as a warm bath and no TV before you sleep and you’ll see some benefits over the following weeks. Remember, this is undoing years of poor sleep routines!
Mindfulness is a big industry though. So perhaps it’s easy to spend £££s on books, Apps and many more resources - Adriana Huffington has set up Thrive as part of her ‘conversion’ to mindfulness! However, all you need is a quiet space, a good attitude and commitment.
Tips to help with mindfulness
Keep it short and build up
Start slowly and build up your mindfulness time. You can start by taking five minutes at a time (it will feel like an eternity at the start but soon you’ll feel 30 minutes is a breeze).
Focus on a fixed time
Set aside a fixed time each day. By having regular times you’ll get more out of your session. First thing in the morning before the rest of the house is up or at the end of the day. You can even go and sit in your car at lunchtime and carry out a session too.
Yoga or gentle walking can help with mindfulness and also sleep. Combining both should help with your sleep. Set a target for a walk though - it should have you feeling like you have put some effort in rather than a gentle stroll.
Focus on distractions and disruptions
Look out for those things which distract you (like social media and emails). Give yourself ‘time off’ from your smartphone or laptop. Maybe take a walk around the block or find a quiet space without any distractions. Music can help but try something instrumental rather than with lyrics.
In our next blog we’ll create a mindfulness infographic with hints and tips for you to get better sleep.
Some useful resources:
Mindfulness Solutions Free Downloads: http://www.mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html
Are you sleeping comfortably?
As well as applying mindfulness to your daily life, having the correct levels of support are equally as important. We all have our own individual sleeping positions. From being a side sleeper to flat on your back, your body needs sufficient levels of support. At Tweak Slumber, we created comfort changing mattresses that give every individual their best night's sleep with completely personalised levels of support and comfort. Find out more about the mattress that fits you at www.tweakslumber.com.