Drug therapy is the last resort to treat sleep disorders. To improve the quality of relaxation, before you take any medication, it is good to explore a series of psychological strategies that can give great benefits, if not complete recovery. Among these, there is also meditation for guided sleep, a method to help the mind let go of worried thoughts and relax the body before going to bed. We talked about it with Dr. Vincenzo Tullo, neurologist in charge of sleep medicine and the headache center at Humanitas.
Mindfulness and sleep, what connection?
In a 2015 study published in JAMA, it was shown that mindfulness meditation was more effective at improving sleep than a sleep hygiene intervention with 49 seniors. The mindful awareness practice (MAP) intervention was used over six weeks for two hours a week. It was also found that the effects on sleep were translated into daytime problems, with the reduction of fatigue and depression.
How does mindfulness work and who can use it for?
According to the American Sleep Association, about 30% of adults have short-term insomnia problems and about 10 percent have chronic difficulties with falling or staying asleep. In addition, about a third of adults report sleeping less than 7 hours a night, compared to the 8-9 hours they would really need.
Insomnia is often caused by stress and worry, which is why relaxation and mindfulness techniques such as meditation are particularly suited to combat this problem.
Like other more traditional forms of meditation, this practice involves shifting attention from the mind to the body.
It is about entering into meditation before going to sleep, generally alone or being helped by listening to an audio recording that guides you along this path. By learning how to shift attention from negative thoughts and relax your body, you will benefit from the ability to fall asleep easily. In the concept of meditation it is simple: to remain in the present moment. In turn, this activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to lower the heart rate and slow down breathing. All these changes are preparing for sleep even though they are not a method of falling asleep in themselves, but only to calm the mind.