Getting ready for sleep at night isn’t  as easy as it sounds these days. We live in a high-strung competitive  world where work follows us home if we don’t already work from home to  begin with.

Computer light and staring at screens and smart phones all day makes for unnatural sleep rhythms. Unbalanced work habits can make it hard to fall asleep even though you are tired at night. Too much artificial light and not enough natural sunlight during the  day can throw off melatonin production. This leads to poor sleep and can  diminish your health and vitality over the long term.

Chronic sleep deprivation is nothing to laugh about. Poor sleep quality is something that can undermine your productivity and health. But there are some easy fixes that can help you get to bed easily and sleep more soundly. One thing you can do right away to improve your sleep is to make sure you have the right pillow and that your pillow is supporting your head and neck properly. 

Evening rituals that can help prepare you for restful sleep  

In the evening it is important to have your room comfortable for sleeping. It is also important to build good habits for unwinding and getting ready for sleep.  

  • Wearing blue blocker glasses in the evening can help
  • Step away from the screen and do relaxing pre-sleep rituals
  • Unwind with a relaxing book or some quiet music
  • Stretching, or going for a short walk before you turn in
  • Sleep Aids can help you get to sleep and stay asleep longer
  • Aromatherapy can also help you in getting enough deep sleep
  • Meditation is one of the best things to do half an hour before bed  to start to slow down your nervous system and get you ready to go to  sleep.

And be sure you have the optimal bedding, mattress, and an optimal pillow for your sleep style. Our all natural buckwheat pillows can help you sleep deeper and wake up refreshed.   

What is meditation

Meditation is a simple practice to help relax and slow down your  nervous system. It is a good way to reset your body and mind back to a  neutral place. Meditation can improve your overall wellbeing and help you create  greater happiness and peace in your life. There is a lot of mystery  built up around the many different types of meditation practices. Many religious and spiritual organizations use meditation to get into  deep states of relaxation and focus. There have been millions of books  written about meditation that have a religious or spiritual connotation. There are also lots of secular meditation books.    But most meditation techniques are meant to do one simple thing. Meditation is meant to help you bring your physiology back to a normal healthy state so you can experience life in a more focused and effective manner. Religious groups meditate to delve deeper into the mysteries of life. Entrepreneurs use these same techniques to achieve success in their careers. Meditation is like the raw material of awareness. 

Once you have developed it you can use it to do what you like. The peace, bliss, and joy that people often feel when they meditate  regularly is universal no matter which type of meditation they do.  This shows us that meditation is a universal natural human activity that anyone can do. You don’t need to join a cult or a religious group or even take a meditation class if you don’t want to. You have inside you the innate ability to quiet down and reset your emotions and your nervous system to a state of equilibrium. You probably have gotten into this flow state  naturally from time to time when you are doing something you enjoy:  reading, writing, walking on the beach, drawing, or just sitting quietly  somewhere peaceful. Now we are just going to learn how to formalize this innate power of  yours and make it a regular part of your night time routine. 

The natural flow state explained by Diane Allen in a TED Talk

How to Do a Simple Bedtime Meditation to Help You Sleep Better

Most types of meditation are done with the eyes closed. You will want  to be seated in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Your  back may be supported by a firm chair back or pillow. It is usually advised not to rest the head back onto a pillow because  you want to stay alert to get the benefits of the meditation without  falling asleep just yet. You can set a meditation timer on your phone for 5 or 10 minutes or work your way up to half an hour per evening. Some people like to meditate for 20 minutes in the morning and  evening. You can try guided meditation recordings or relaxing music. Or  you can sit with your eyes closed without any music or guidance. 

Simple Breathing Meditation  

The easiest form of meditation is to sit comfortably and follow the  breath. You don’t have to try and change anything about your breathing. You may notice that your breathing gradually slows down. Or you may  notice the little pause and the delicious silence between the breaths. You can also actively relax the nervous system by timing your breath  so that you exhale twice as long as you inhale. When you inhale your  heart rate naturally increases. When you exhale your heart rate  naturally decreases. This is a way to mechanically reset the nervous system to a calm state. Scientist Emma Seppala explains her work with PTSD patients using this technique. You could start with some breathing meditation for a few minutes  during your session and then move on to the next exercise or stay with  your breathing for the whole session. Here is a guided breathing meditation to give you the idea. Once you have done guided meditations a few times you can do the practice on your own. 

Body Scanning Progressive Relaxation Meditation  

Relaxation meditation can be done at the beginning of your session  for a few minutes right after watching your breathing for a few minutes. You will simply scan your body starting at the top of the head and  progressively relax the muscles of your scalp, forehead, around your  eyes, all your facial muscles, your neck and shoulders and work your way  down all the way to the feet. Here are some good progressive relaxation meditations. 

Heart centered meditation

In heart centered meditation you focus on the center of your chest.  You may notice the heart beat or the life force or energy emanating from  the middle of your chest. You can do this for a whole session or at the  end of your meditation after doing breathing and body scanning. Lincoln Gergar’s free guided spiritual heart meditation 

Meditation Resources  

There are thousands of books and apps and videos to choose from. Here are a few favorites: Calm App free 7-day trial Gaia Guided meditations The Happiness Track by Emma Seppala  

Mind Valley’s free 6-Phase Meditation Program  

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Lincoln Gergar free meditations Deep and Simple by Bo Lozoff Soul Sync by PK Consciousness   

The Benefits of Meditation  

Science is finding that meditation has benefits in healing the brain and body when you do it regularly. Meditation can help to:  

  • Lower anxiety levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Induce better sleep
  • Increase happiness overall
  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Help with changing habits like smoking
  • Reduce menopause symptoms
  • Increase the brain’s ability to process information
  • Slow or reverse the effects of aging on the brain

Is Mindfulness the Same as Meditation?  

You have probably heard the word “mindfulness” used to describe a meditative state or a state of present-moment awareness. Meditation is the act of deliberately slowing down to become mindful.  But mindfulness can encompass more of every day life. Mindfulness is a  way of being. Meditation is the practice of an awareness of the present moment that you hopefully take with you throughout the day. John Kabat Zinn brought the word mindfulness into the mainstream. He studied with Zen masters and became a meditation instructor. 

Dr. Amish Jha explains Mindfulness

Why We Need to Meditate Regularly  

When we work indoors at a computer all day we forget to breathe. When  we don’t get out in sunlight enough the lack of natural outdoor light  can throw off our circadian rhythms. Most people are focused and driven at work and don’t stop to breathe deeply or relax and enjoy life as much as we could.  Overworking and eating the wrong foods, and not breathing deeply enough causes stress to our bodies.  This constant chronic stress can lead to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. This is our fight or flight response. The nervous system is in over drive much of the time as if we are in  danger. It is as if the whole modern culture is in a state of PTSD.  

We watch violent, or stimulating TV shows and movies, eat stimulating  food, and scroll through our phones all day and late into the night. Then we expect to sleep well when our head finally touches the pillow. But of course the body cannot simply switch off after all that  stimulus. We often remain on high-alert all the time and never really  relax. But not to worry. You can deliberately retrain your nervous system so the  parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and rejuvenate portion of the  nervous system) is able to take control at night. Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) can be put to sleep for the evening. 

Try meditating for just ten minutes before you go to sleep with or without a guided recording or app. A meditation pillow can make it also easier for you to get into this new routine. If you do  this for a month you will notice benefits in your sleeping and waking  life.  

Another great way to help reset your nervous system is with one of our amazing buckwheat hull or millet pillows