Can meditation and yoga help with Insomnia? Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for insomnia and sleep disturbances are receiving increasing clinical and research attention over the past few years. Researchers highly suggest practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes each day for a good night’s sleep and treating insomnia.
How Mindfulness Helps with Insomnia
Mindfulness creates a reflex, bringing in a sense of relaxation more easily. This makes it far easier for the body and mind to relax. Through this technique, it becomes easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep.
While the practice may help you enter your dreamland at night, this is considered so powerful that during daytime practice it is advised that a person should practice mindfulness meditation either sitting upright or while moving, like in Tai Chi stance, to avoid dozing off.
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How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Here is how to practice mindfulness meditation to treat insomnia:
Choose a Calming Focus
Good examples are your breath, a sound like ‘Om’, a short prayer, a positive word such as relax or peace, or a phrase like breathing in calm, breathing out tension or I am relaxed. If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale.
Let Go and Relax
Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind wandering, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself ‘thinking, thinking’ and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.
You can also listen to our guided meditations for relaxation or practicing mindfulness for easy guidance.
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Pranayama for Insomnia
Just like meditation, yoga has proven to be effective in relaxing the mind too. Pranayama in yoga has proven to be extremely relaxing for the body & mind. Pranayama is the science of breath control.
Here are some great Pranayama exercises to promote sleep:
Sit in a comfortable position or lie on your back. Inhale and exhale through your nose making a deep and sibilant breath noise, a sound like the one made when you fog a mirror with your breath. Feel the air as it passes through the back of your throat. Close your eyes and focus your attention on the sound of the breath in your throat. Allow this attention to take you away from any sounds around you. Continue the practice for a minute or two.
Sit in a comfortable position. Plug your ears using your thumb, place your remaining fingers covering your eyes & side of your nose, ensuring that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Take a deep breath in, and after a full inhalation start making a gentle buzzing sound as you slowly exhale. The sound should come from the lower throat and should be soothing. Allow your attention to become fully absorbed in the sound of the vibration. When you run out of air, inhale slowly and deeply once more and repeat the cycle.
Another breathing routine you can try is slow breathing with the emphasis on gradually lengthening the exhalation. This practice can be done lying in bed. Breathing through the nose, inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of four. Do that twice, then inhale for four and exhale for six. After two times, increase the count of inhalation & exhalation to eight and so on, going up to ten and twelve as tolerated. Never stretch the exhalation any longer than is perfectly comfortable, or you will activate your sympathetic nervous system. Once you reach the maximum exhalation length at which you are comfortable, you can continue to meditate until you fall asleep.
More Insomnia Resources
These simple meditation & yoga exercises can calm you down, get your mind relaxed and aide you in getting a sound sleep at night. If you want to understand a little more about Insomnia, read our detailed article on the subject. You can also listen to our guided meditation here to experience the power of meditation in relaxing the mind.