I love climbing under the blankets, chilling out and drifting off to sleep. When I wake up the next day, I tend to feel refreshed and well-rested.
BUT IT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY.
There have been times when I’ve screamed into a pillow and cried with frustration because it was getting later and later and I couldn’t switch off. I’d check the time and count down the number of hours of sleep I was likely to get.
“If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 6 hours of sleep.”
“If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 5 hours and 50 minutes of sleep.”
“If I fall asleep now, I’ll get 5 hours and 30 minutes sleep…”
I’d created a cycle of stress and linked it to bedtime – and I had no idea how to break that cycle. It felt like everything I tried didn’t work--UNTIL MEDITATION.
Meditation is the solution to a better night's sleep. But let's talk about why we need better sleep first.
9 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can interfere with natural sleep patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Here are 9 reasons why good sleep is important.
1. Poor sleep and higher body weight are linked
Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain. There is a growing body of research indicating that short sleep duration coincides with obesity. One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger. Another contributing factor might be that when feeling tired, people are less active and don't exercise regularly.
BOTTOM LINE: Studies show that short sleep duration can cause weight gain in all age groups.
2. Good sleepers are less hungry
Studies show that people who sleep only 4 hours per night, compared to 10 hours per night, have an increase in hunger and appetite, especially for calorie rich foods such as junk foods that are packed with carbohydrates and fat. There are two hormones that regulate hunger called leptin (decreases appetite) and ghrelin (stimulates appetite) that can be controlled by the amount of sleep. When the body is sleep-deprived, ghrelin levels increase while leptin levels fall, leading to an increase in hunger. There is also the problem that for people who sleep less, they have more waking hours to eat.
BOTTOM LINE: Poor sleep affects hormones that control appetite as well as giving more hours to eat. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories overall because of the hormone control and less time allowed to eat.
3. Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity
Sleep is critical to the brain functions, which includes cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. Research implies that we require good sleep to support our high-level, thinking and problem solving abilities.
As you sleep, connections between brain cells are strengthened, and information is transferred from short to long-term memory. Without enough sleep, we can become more forgetful. This will mitigate your efforts of concentrating and being productive.
SUMMARY: Good sleep can improve problem-solving skills and memory. Poor sleep has been shown to cause focus issues and impair vital brain functions, similar to the results of drinking or taking drugs.
4. There is a direct correlation between sleep and athletic performance
Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance. Research studies have shown that adequate sleep is required to maximize reaction time, focus, accuracy, stamina, endurance, and anaerobic power, as well as decrease daytime fatigue, recovery time, and the risk of injury.
BOTTOM LINE: Many aspects of athletic and physical performance can be improved with more higher quality sleep.
5. The risk of heart disease and stroke is greater for those who sleep less
"Well-run observational studies have connected poor sleep with poor cardiovascular outcomes and identified the pathways through which the damage occurs. However, we need further research to understand the impact of improving sleep on lowering this risk," says Dr. Susan Redline, Harvard Professor of Sleep Medicine.
Research suggests that those with healthier sleep habits such as not being a night owl, getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, having no insomnia, not feeling sleepy during the day and not snoring, are at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. For this particular research study in England, 385,292 British men were rated on a scale from 0-5, depending on how many of these healthy habits they possessed. For the "poorest sleepers" whose "sleep scores" were the bottom 2 percentile, compared to those with the highest, had a 34 percent higher risk for both coronary heart disease and stroke.
BOTTOM LINE: Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night may be bad for your health.
6. Poor sleep and depression are linked
Usually, sleep is a restorative state; it provides a time for the body and mind to rest and recover from the bombardment of life. Poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress when the body can't recover properly, and chronic insomnia can cause depression, which affects about 4.4% of the world’s population. As many people with sleep problems know, it can dramatically affect a person’s mood and overall quality of life.
BOTTOM LINE: Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder.
7. Immune functions are improved through better sleep
Now researchers from Germany have found that sound sleep improves immune cells known as T cells supporting the numerous existing studies which have reported the benefits of a good night's sleep. T cells play an important role in the body’s immune system. They found that in the study participants who slept, their T cells showed a stronger ability to attach to viruses than the T cells of people who were awake. The findings indicate that sleep has the potential to improve T cell functioning.
BOTTOM LINE: Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight viruses.
9. Sleep affects social interactions
Lack of sleep causes people to become less social and lonely because of the difficulty to read other people's facial expressions and starts to interpret them as threatening. These individuals may try to avoid others and even feel very irritable around others. Lack of sleep also leads to increased emotional reactivity making people quick to judge, short-tempered, and emotionally volatile. People are unable to manage their emotions in these circumstances and will appear more unapproachable to those around them.
BOTTOM INE: Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on social skills and the ability to recognize other people’s emotions.
8. Poor sleep is tied to inflammation
Inflammation is linked to the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—the common life-threatening diseases of our time. As research shows, poor sleep is a contributor to inflammation.
Laboratory studies have tested acute, prolonged sleep deprivation (conditions where sleep was restricted for more than 24 hours) and found this type of sleep loss increases inflammation activity in the body. They have also studied partial sleep deprivation, which is the kind of insufficient sleep that so many people experience in their daily lives. While the study results are mixed, many studies show this form of everyday sleep loss elevates inflammation.
BOTTOM LINE: Sleep affects your body's inflammatory response. Poor sleep can have adverse affects on your body's inflammation levels.
Try Meditation Before Bed
A Method to Get a Better Night's Sleep
Better sleep, better days. So many struggle to “turn off” at night and sleep in a way that is truly restorative. We have designed a special nighttime meditation series to melt away tension and invite a restful night’s sleep. Elizabeth Cockrell, of Brooklyn Meditation, is an experienced meditation guide who also happens to have a wonderfully soothing voice. She will guide us through a progressive relaxation technique and guided night meditation to gently release the thoughts of the day. Naturally, your body and mind will quiet down, allowing for a comfortable, rejuvenating night’s sleep.
Every Tuesday and Thursday night, the sessions will begin at 10pm, and close quietly at 10:45 - but hopefully our “goodnight” will go unheard. :) This is intended to be the last thing you do before falling asleep, so come ready to drift off to dreamland. We’ll see you there! Completely free and all are welcome. Please share this with anyone who could benefit from sounder sleep and sweeter dreams.
East Coast Edition
Tuesday & Thursday at 10pm ET
Hosted By Elizabeth & Evan
West Coast Edition
Monday at 9pm PT
Hosted By Pralima & Ronan
Do you struggle to “power down” at night? We hear you. We have created a soothing night meditation series to help you release the day's thoughts and gently invite a well-deserved, restful night's sleep. Come prepared to turn in and drift off during this relaxing nighttime session.
What to Expect
*A brief introduction to the purpose and premise of meditation, and identify the blockages to healthy sleep patterns.
*Some simple stretches and progressive relaxation techniques to put the body at ease.
*A guided visualization meditation to identify and release - or “throw away” - stressful, negative, and burdensome thoughts from the day.
By the end of the session, you will have released tension in both the body and mind, allowing for an easier and more restful night’s sleep.
Elizabeth has been practicing meditation for 7 years and has been guiding as an instructor at the Brooklyn Meditation center in Park Slope for 5 years. Since it’s grand opening in the summer of 2015, the center has seen hundreds of diverse people of all backgrounds make meditation part of their life style.
For the past 18 years, Evan has been on a spiritual journey, during which time his search for inner peace led him to Finding Your True Self meditation. Since completing the meditation program in 2008, Evan has focused on guiding newcomers and trying to spread the good word.
Pralima started searching for inner peace and happiness at a young age. She found the meditation method in 2009.
Ever since, she has been involved in helping others find peace within. She is currently a full time meditation guide at San Francisco Meditation.
Ronan began meditation almost 6 years ago at Las Vegas Meditation. Over time he noticed improvements in his personal as well as his work life. These wonderful changes brought forth a better quality of life. Having been helped personally by this practice, he has gotten involved with the public online programs to share this meditation with others.
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Help us continue to offer free meditation to the world.
Long Island Meditation is looking to help the world regain their true happiness and peace during these difficult times. While we are actively involved in helping the local community through free guided meditations, there is still a long way to go in helping all the impacted parts of the world.
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