Imagine having a very important call scheduled, and you intended to have that call using your cell phone. Would you start the call with a lowly charged cell battery? Or if you had a 400-mile road trip, would you start that journey with with a low tank of gas?
Sounds silly, right? Well, why do so many start their DAY like that, deprived of sleep, which refuels their body and mind? Probably because they don’t fully understand just how much adequate sleep benefits us, and how much inadequate sleep hurts us.
Insomnia is the brain’s inability to sleep, and it is the world’s most common sleep disorder. Several distinct things can cause it, such as caffeine, aging, or depression.
Because meditation is a transition in consciousness, just like sleep is, meditation can help groom and prepare the mind to transition to sleep, which happens in 4 stages:
The first 2 stages are a light and easily disturbable level of rest. Stage 3 emits growth hormone, and androgens that build and repair muscle, burn fat, and is physically restorative. While the 4th stage, REM, is mentally restorative. As we age, the deeper stages of sleep decrease, and the lighter sleep stages increase, as well as awakenings in general.
According to The Sleep Foundation, “the deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.”
Hyperarousal and stress — both of which are quite common in modern lives — antagonize the nervous system, and keep it in a triggered fight-flight-or-freeze state for extended periods of time. That is not desirable, because stress inhibits the production of melatonin, which is a neuro-hormone made by the pea-sized pineal gland. Melatonin is produced in response to darkness, and it signals the body when it’s time for sleep, so it’s essential for good sleep hygiene. Minimizing stress with mindful meditation is one way to proactively ensure sufficient production of melatonin.
According to Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of the book “Why We Sleep,” insomnia:
- prevents the brain from committing new experiences to memory;
- builds up a toxic protein called beta amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer’s;
- has a negative impact on testosterone production and virility;
- has a negative impact on immune system and cancer-fighting cells; and
- is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The World Health Organization classifies any nighttime shift work as “a probable carcinogen.” Eight hours of sleep is needed to repair the “damage” of 16 hours of wakefulness, which Professor Walker defined as “low level brain damage.”
The brain is very metabolic, with a lot of activity happening inside it at all times, even during sleep. And when the sleep state is fragmented, or shortened, there are health consequences to pay.
Meditation helps reduce the use of sleeping pills, and is an all-natural, medication-free solution. Sleep quality is the amount of time in bed, compared to the amount of time asleep. Could your sleep quality be better? Our audio meditations lead you to a deeply restful night of sleep, or an energizing power nap.