A new study from the University of Southern California suggests that mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality for older adults with sleep deprivation, including trouble falling or staying asleep. The researchers found that the mindfulness group showed significant improvement in the quality of their sleep.
Sleep deprivation can lower a body’s defenses. This may cause weight gain and mood disorders, or cause one to be less attentive, make more mistakes and process information more slowly. It can affect one’s productivity and impair one’s decision-making and social skills. It can cause one to misinterpret nonverbal communication, thinking that the cue the other person gave was in some way negative, when in fact it was not.
People who burn the candle at both ends are very susceptible to sleep deprivation. One of the ways to combat this is for organizations/companies to change their thinking from celebrating the people who burn the candle at both ends to value the employees and promote the benefits of sleep. A couple of ways to do this is to be flexible with schedules and allow people to work from home when possible. Another way to combat this is through having mindfulness meditation as a team-building exercise.
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful technique when used on a regular basis, and can improve symptoms such as fatigue, mood fluctuations, anxiety, stress, inflammatory markers often associated with sleep deprivation and depressive symptoms. Sleep deprivation can affect the quality of one’s life significantly and mindfulness meditation can help. Mindfulness training holds promise as a measure for improving overall health among not only older adults, but everyone in general. It is also a side effect-free alternative to pharmaceutical aids.
Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting an individual to be different from who they are. It helps one become aware of what is already true in each moment. No matter what is happening in any moment, one can become unconditionally present.
The best way to do mindfulness meditation is to sit, which gives one the chance to be themselves in the present moment. Being in the moment shows one brief looks into their own innate wisdom and puts one smack dab in the middle of their own pain, discomfort, bliss, joy, peace or whatever one is experiencing, allowing it to be what it is, let it go and just be. Meditation allows the thoughts and feelings to come up so that they can be washed out and away from oneself, as if one is standing under a waterfall. The session can last for 10 to 15 minutes or longer.
When a person is mindful, they show up for their own lives. If something needs to be changed, the person is present enough to know what needs to be done. Needs are still taken care of and full participation in one’s life occurs. The more mindful one is, the more compassionate in action.
Mindfulness meditation is a way to alleviate sleep deprivation because it helps one to let go of worry, stress and anxiety. This, in turn, allows one to get a good night’s sleep and wake up well-rested. One is then ready to enjoy the day full of energy and whatever comes their way.
By Michele Enli
Photo by SuperFantastic – License