National Sleep Awareness Week (March 8-14) is the perfect time to improve rest with mindfulness activities. Rest is essential to improve productivity, stress, and overall mental & physical health.
Unfortunately for some, sleeping through the night is uncommon. With the rise of technology, feeling distracted and scatterbrained is becoming more typical. For many, it seems impossible to relax when come bedtime. Luckily, mindfulness activities before catching some zzz’s can drastically improve sleep.
Mindfulness is the act of feeling present. The team at Tommy John created insight on how to practice mindfulness and feel more at ease. Health benefits of mindfulness activities include:-steady heart rate-lower blood pressure-improved sleep-lower stress levels.
Improving Physiological State and Physical Health
Practicing mindfulness puts us in a calm state, enhancing our physical health. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states meditation can reduce anxiety and depression. This mind-body approach increases endorphins and positivity in our daily routines.
Below are a few physical advantages of adding mindfulness activities into our lives:
- Our heart rate can steady and slow. When we focus and relax our minds, our heart rate decreases. Time between heartbeats stabilizes when we focus on breathing. Feeling grounded and centered is a common trend with meditation activities.
- Our blood pressures can lower. Less stress can lead to lowered blood pressure due to a calmed nervous system. Mindfulness stimulates the telomerase gene. Telomerase is linked to reduced blood pressure and stress, plus extended lifespan.
- Stress hormones decreased. Cortisol, a stress hormone, lowers when we focus on the present. Mindfulness is about observing how currently feel while staying positive.
Why are Better Sleep Patterns “Better”?
Mindfulness activities and meditation are linked to improved sleep patterns. When our body goes through the REM cycle with the right amount of rest at night, there are several benefits. Improved emotional intelligence and being more productive are just two of the. getting sufficient sleep can improve our day-to-day life in other ways as well…
- Increased memory retention. Brain cells that transfer information strengthen when we get enough sleep. This leads to an increase in memory retention.
- Boosted productivity. Poor sleep can result in less productivity the following day. The more tired we are, the more likely we’ll feel sluggish and unmotivated. By prioritizing deep sleep (REM sleep), our brains and bodies repair, allowing us to wake up ready to take on the world.
>>Want more info about being productive? Read how to use food to be more productive at work <<
- Metabolism regulation. Sleep disruption can lead to a negative effect on metabolism, causing it to slow. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links weight gain to insufficient sleep due to metabolic dysregulation. Thus, a good night’s sleep can boost metabolic function and lead to a lower body weight.
- Higher emotional intelligence. Sleep can play a large role in building emotional intelligence and tact. The part of the brain known for triggering extreme emotions is called the amygdala. And it’s more sensitive without a proper sleep. More sleep, less breakdowns please!
Examples of Mindfulness Activities to Practice
To get the health outcomes from mindfulness and sleep, practice is important. Try one of the creative mindfulness exercises below to get started…
1. Box Breathing
Box breathing is an exercise known to reset our brain if we are feeling uneasy and stressed. First, find a calm, quiet area free of electronics. Turn your phone on silent and get away from TVs and laptops.
Next, outline the template Tommy John designed for boxed-breathing using a finger. An alternative to this is to place one hand on your lower stomach and another on your chest. The aim here is to physically feel air entering and exiting your body.
- breathe in for 4 seconds
- hold for 4 seconds
- exhale for 4 seconds
- hold for 4 seconds
After practicing this routine for a few minutes, you’ll be in your desired state of mindfulness: ready for bed. Wear comfortable clothing to practice and easily drift off afterwards.
2. Night-Time Reflection
After a long day, reflecting and documenting feelings is a great way to feel present and ready for the next day. This simple reflection requires observing the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. We increase self-awareness and gratuity when we take time to appreciate the positivity around us.
Staying focused is key to practicing a night-time reflection. Setting a timer for 10 minutes helps. Recall and picture a specific memory that makes you feel good. Re-experience it in your mind, remembering the details with the memory. What do you taste, see, hear, smell and feel?
This mindfulness activity allows us to clear our heads from negativity and stress, resulting in restful sleep.
3. Make a Gratitude Map
Understanding our emotions and feelings leads to greater self-awareness and appreciation. When creating a gratitude map, categories to take into consideration are the people, places, skills, and objects we are thankful for. Tracking uplifting emotions before sleep helps create a better state of mind and wake up rested the next day.
Gains from gratitude mapping include:
- decreased stress levels
- a deeper connection to those around us
- a calmer internal monologue
We can test out different routines and practices to find the right one for each of us. A healthy lifestyle refreshes a technological, interconnected world. Turning off for a moment before sleep magnify sleep’s gains. Seven hours of sleep provides several long-term benefits. It leads to feeling more upbeat in the present as well.
Can’t wait to incorporate one of these mindfulness activity ideas into your night? Comment below which one you’re excited to use.
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About the Author
Sarah Hollenbeck is a writer for Snap Kitchen and yoga instructor from Austin, Texas. When she isn’t writing about wellness trends, you can find her at a yoga studio or taking her dog for a walk around her neighborhood.
Read her other guest post on Carob Cherub, How to Be Successful with a Vegan Diet and Intermittent Fasting