Having trouble sleeping?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
As many as 35% of Australians have sleeping problems. If you are one of the millions who lie awake in bed for hours at night only to end up feeling extremely tired during the day, then good news!
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles recently found mindful meditation may be the key for adults who have difficulty sleeping. Based on the findings of a new experiment, subjects who were taught meditation techniques like focusing on their breathing while remaining quiet reported more improvements in their sleep than those who received other treatments including medication.
Why does meditating on being “present in the moment” work?
For one thing, meditation allows you to dial down anxiety and is effective at reducing tension at the end of the day. Michael Irwin, one of the study’s co-authors and a Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, says that this is something people with sleeping difficulties struggle with.
“Their overall arousal is high and mindfulness short-circuits that. It allows them to pull back from the stress.”
The team discovered that the benefits of mindful meditation include better mood, higher levels of energy, and less disturbances during sleep. To gain these improvements, test subjects underwent 2 hour practice sessions every week for 6 six weeks along with assigned homework.
As you might already know from firsthand experience, sleep problems affect many aspects of daily life. From feeling more irritable to not being able to function at work as well as you should, these problems can have severe consequences.
In Australia, the economic cost of sleep disorders is estimated to be massive. It is reported to be $5.1 billion each year! This total includes medical costs, but most of the losses – $4.3 billion worth – are due to lost productivity and sleep related accidents.
These numbers don’t even include losses from people who only have poor sleeping habits. A paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia says that,
“Based on the high prevalence of such problems and the known impacts of sleep loss in all its forms on health, productivity and safety, it is likely that these poor sleep habits would add substantially to the costs from sleep disorders alone.”
Hopefully, this new research will bring about more accessible sleep treatments for the sake of both your state of mind and Australia’s future.
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