Friday, May 22, 2015

Meditation and Prayer for Sleep

This is the last blog in a four week series on sleep. I have discussed the importance of sleep, sleep strategies and sleep supplements and will conclude with meditation to help you fall asleep and go back to sleep in the middle of the night.

The idea of “sleep” as a period when the brain simply shuts down has been replaced by an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness is necessary for the biological function in every organ.   Not only does this daily “circadian” rhythm play an important role in learning and the filtering of memories in the brain, but it also serves to regulate the energy level of most all cells.  Shortages of cellular energy eventually wear down natural defenses through oxidative stress and abnormalities in protein processing, increasing the risk of disease. How can meditation and prayer help you achieve a healthy rhythm of sleep?

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)
For a believer, the purpose of meditation prayer is to better align with God, to better know God — to stop struggling against God’s will for us and accept things the way they are; to better comprehend that we are held and loved, that we are OK, no matter what we might be walking through. In other words, in a variety of ways, meditation helps us stop trying to play God.

Often stress and a racing mind prevent us from relaxing enough to fall asleep. As we pray and align ourselves with God's will, we relax, knowing that He is in charge. Even without a belief in God, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and positive visualization all help to move the body from a state of wakefulness to sleep.

If you are new to meditation, the idea may seem a bit scary. Maybe you picture strangers sitting around in contorted positions for hours on end, thinking.....what? One app, CALM, takes away those fears and guides you through seven introductory lessons on posture, breathing, etc. In addition, the app offers a number of guided meditation programs, including four specifically for sleep.

A free app that assists with sleep is Pzizz. This program uses guided meditation and calming sounds to help you fall asleep. You can choose any length of time and the voice can be turned off, if you prefer. There is even a Power Nap setting.

Either of these apps and a meditative prayer time can be part of that one hour wind-down time you have before bedtime. If you are frustrated by wakefulness in the middle of the night, one of these apps might be just what you need to ease you back to sleep. Give it a try and see what works for you!

Get Some Sleep, Stay Active and Enjoy Your Food!

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