How to Create Space for Quality Sleep with Mindfulness

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June 14, 2022

On a tour of Thomas Edison’s estate in West Orange, New Jersey, I learned that the inventor of artificial light was famously against sleeping more than a few hours a night. I subscribed to his “sleep is a waste of time” mentality, not realizing that neglecting sleep could put me on a fast track to health issues. I didn’t pioneer any life-changing technologies the less I slept either. 

My new mantra is “sleep is productive”. I’m acutely aware of the importance of quality sleep for good health and well-being. But, like anyone else, I have trouble falling and staying asleep sometimes. Know that you’re not alone if your thoughts race a mile a minute as soon as you hit the light switch, or you find yourself tossing and turning despite the top-rated memory foam pillow you just invested in. Relieving this mental and physical tension isn’t always easy, but mindfulness practice can help you create a restful space within your body and mind for better sleep.

Prepare Your Body for Rest

As you begin to wind down for the day, signal your body that it’s time for rest. One way to do this is to make a habit out of a bedtime routine, and be consistent with it. Experiment with relaxing night time rituals an hour before you plan to go to bed. You could try journaling, reading a book, taking a warm bath, or any gentle activity that helps you slow down your body. If you hold tension in your body, consider trying a guided body scan practice to release it. 

Quiet Mental Chatter 

Intentionally paying attention to the breath is a great way to quiet the ‘monkey mind’ and soothe your nervous system. Direct your focus inwards, paying attention to your inhalations and exhalations. Take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can rest your hands on your belly to notice it rise and fall with each breath. When your mind wanders, treat your thoughts like clouds passing by. Greet them with kindness, without judgment, and let them go. 

Mind Your Surroundings

Review your sleep space. Is it conducive to rest? To some extent this comes down to personal preference, but cultivating awareness of how your environment impacts your mindset can help you create better conditions for sleep. Try decluttering your bedroom, quieting distracting sounds with ambient music, and limiting any bright lights from devices or lamps (sorry, Edison!).

If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness practices for quality sleep, eM Life has a collection of on-demand programs to send you on a safe passage to dreamland. Try the 7 Days of Sleep collection, Mindful Sleep Meditations, or in a pinch: Quick Relief – I Just Can’t Fall Asleep.

Written by Annie Slaby