Sleep and Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be defined in many ways, but a simple way to define it might be intentionally leaning into the present moment and engaging your senses in a way that grounds you. Leaning into this moment creates awareness, connection, and acceptance. The practice of mindfulness is often helpful for anxiety, depression, and many other challenges that people face. Along with this, mindfulness can be a helpful tool to improve your sleep.

We’ve all heard it- sleep is important and sleep can help us to feel better. It is often easy to advise someone to get some sleep, but what if sleep is hard for them? To sleep, we need to be in a restful space- both physically and mentally. The bottom line is that sleep is not always easy even if we are tired. We might even fear the process of trying to fall asleep.

Below you will find some mindfulness tools and journal prompts as they relate to sleep.

  • View each bedtime a fresh start. If you did not sleep well the previous night, this does not mean you will not sleep well tonight. Allow yourself to experience a new beginning.
  • Name your expectations. Do you expect to get sleep tonight?  Does setting your expectation around sleep help or hurt you? What if you approached sleep with zero expectations? Consider journaling about this before bedtime.
  • Eliminate harsh judgment around your sleep situation. Aim to not automatically think of being in bed and awake as harmful. This negative energy will produce pressure to fall asleep. Think about how you made it through another day. You are in bed. You are safe.
  • Let’s talk about self-trust. Do you trust that your mind and body have the capacity to self-regulate sleep? Deepening the trust that you have in yourself can help in many areas of your life.
  • To some degree, you cannot directly control your sleep. Accept that sometimes you will sleep and sometimes you will not. Acceptance of this will allow you to see the reality for what it is.
  • Think about your relationship with sleep. Do you view it as a problem in your life that needs fixing? Embrace the process of sleep and remember your humanity. You too, are not a problem that needs fixing.
  • Sometimes trying to fix poor sleep can be harder than not getting sleep. Allow whatever is happening without trying to change it. How does this feel?
  • Remember that your sleep is not a performance and if you do not get eight hours you are not a failure.

If you would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern

Reference:

S.H.F. (2020, July 13). Mindfulness and sleep. The Sleep Health Foundation. https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/mindfulness-and-sleep-2.html

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