On Meditation, Sleep And Chocolate Soufflé
by Emily Barasch
With our devices and never-ending schedules, life these days is, by definition, over-stimulated. It’s hardly an anomaly for our phones or computer screens (or both) to be the last thing we see before falling asleep—which, as research has shown, is a powerful hindrance to getting a sufficient night’s sleep. Even when we go out to let loose, the alcohol we drink (even if we imbibe just a little) or chocolate soufflé we sample metabolizes into pure sugar and wrecks havoc on those precious Z’s. Sometimes, as we attempt to count sheep, all we can see are career goals yet to be met; relationships in need of fostering; children to take care of; and if particularly altruistic, world problems to be solved. The list is seemingly endless.
But how to quiet the noise and get that vital rest? Recently, much has been made of mindfulness and meditation with luminaries from Arianna Huffington to Gisele Bünchen; Oprah Winfrey to Internet super-CEO Marc Benioff; and Jerry Seinfeld to Angelina Jolie extolling the benefits of cultivating a meditation practice.
And there may be no better time to meditate then incorporating it into a bedtime routine—or beditation, for the uninitiated. In fact, research has shown that meditation has proven to be equally effective as sleep medication as well as helpful for decreasing fatigue throughout the day. (Generally speaking, meditation has also been credited with lowering cortisol levels, honing mental focus, and even amping up your immune system.)
There are several ways to go about jumpstarting this absolutely win-win practice. Set a timer on your phone—any increment over five minutes is recommended—and delve into a simple silent meditation, finding a comfortable position to flow through your thoughts. Guided meditation apps can be a perfect introduction to the practice because they require nothing except your trusted smartphone. They may also be instrumental in piquing the beginner’s concentration. (In your app store, check out Omvana, Buddhify, and HeadSpace—they are especially user-friendly and have many before bed-specific options.) Or the more spiritually inclined can try Transcendental Medication (TM), a powerful practice that requires guidance from a trained guru.
With many choices, this long-lauded and easy practice is far from a fad—let its proven benefits usher you in a more peaceful (and healthy) existence.