Sometimes, our minds can be our own worst enemies when it comes to getting a full-night’s sleep. The stresses from the day can leak into our nights, resulting in hours wasted laying in bed, thinking about how tired we will be the following morning. The cycle continues until we exist in a perpetual state of exhaustion, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Dr. Gail Gazelle MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Master Certified Coach for physicians, offers insight on how insomnia can be harmful to people in many ways, and how practicing mindfulness can help us improve our relationship with sleep.
“Insomnia affects 30-60% of adults, and is estimated to cost the US economy $63.2 billion per year. At the same time, the US sleep industry nets ~$28 billion/year and yet the problem, for many, persists. Sleep is critically important for all of us, as it has wide-reaching impact on brain, cardiac, and immune function, risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Mindfulness can be a powerful alternative to medications, and numerous studies demonstrate that simple mindfulness techniques can greatly improve sleep,” says Dr. Gail Gazelle
Here are Dr. Gazelle’s top 3 reasons for why mindfulness can improve sleep
Reason #1: When we’re having difficulty sleeping, it is often because our body needs rest but our mind is overly active.
Too often, we lie in bed feeling exhausted, yet our mind is busy reviewing the events of the day, rehashing arguments, or planning for the future. With mindfulness, we learn how to quiet the mind, thus allowing the body to get the rest it needs.
Reason #2: Decreases entanglement with emotional stimuli
In addition to the busy mind, our sleep can be disrupted by unprocessed emotions. We can be awake worrying and fearful about our children, our job, our finances, scary world events, or even the fate of the planet. With mindfulness, we gain skills in working with challenging emotions so they don’t arise during the night in the same ineffectual pattern.
Reason #3: Interestingly, what we resist tends to persist.
When we have difficulty sleeping, we often start fretting about it. We start thinking “Oh no, it’s going to be another bad night,” or “How am I going to get my work done tomorrow if I can’t get rest tonight?” Sadly, the more we fret, the more the mind stays active; paradoxically, it only fuels the difficulty we have shutting off the mind and allowing the body to rest.
If you are interested in learning more, I’d be happy to connect you with regular media contributor, Dr. Gail Gazelle. Dr. Gazelle has been featured on CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox, Yahoo! News, NPR, AMA, AP, Univision, ACP, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Oprah Magazine and more.
Demo Reel: https://www.fox5dc.com/video/1022902