Meditation as a Sleep Aid?

I’ve come to a place where sleeping through the night happens when it happens.  Some nights, I’m fortunate enough to sleep-through naturally, no aids. Other nights I choose from an arsenal of sleep aids—“Hmmm…,” I ask, “which one of you will assist me in drifting back to sleep tonight?”

Just to clarify, I’ve dealt with insomnia for more than 20 years. Trazadone, Ambien, hot milk, late night talk shows, white noise, and just plain tossing and turning are some of the things I’ve done to attempt to sleep. Some things work better than others so I’m alway skeptical about suggestions from others. My trial with meditation came from reading Thich Nhat Hanh and trying  his suggestion to meditate a little everyday.

So back to my arsenol of sleep aids. Adding the act of quieting my mind through meditation has helped immensely.  I simply focus on my breathing, as is the key in meditation. I say to myself, “breathing in, breathing out,” and of course focus my attention as I say these focal phrases on actually breathing in and then breathing out – and so far, it’s been surprisingly effective. Should a bout of insomnia attack, I am now able to get myself back to sleep about 2/3 of the time through meditation.

Imagining the air flowing into and out of your nostrils can also be helpful.  If I start to think about something else, I simply go back to, “breathing in, breathing out.” It can be helpful to take some very deep breaths at first, especially if you find yourself more wired than tired. Give it a try next time you can’t sleep. The more you practise, the better it works.

If you are recent to the world of insomnia its a good idea to take a look at ‘natural’ (as opposed to drug induced) ways to get back to sleep. I’ve included a link to Paul McKenna’s book: ” I Can Make You Sleep” because it gets a 4-plus star rating on Amazon from the customers who’ve tried it.  If the reviews don’t sound convincing there are plenty of other books on Amazon, something that sure to fit your style.