SleepWellness

Mindfulness Meditation may be the key to better Sleep!

Bottom Line:

Learning and practicing mindfulness meditation techniques can significantly improve sleep quality and reduce daytime fatigue.


Anyone who has experienced a blaring alarm clock after a night of minimal or restless sleep would agree- sleep is a deep-rooted bodily need, especially if you are trying to have a happy and productive day.  Aside from feeling good, sleep also does a body good!  Studies have shown that adequate sleep (generally defined as 7-8 hours for adults) reduces the overall risk of mortality from diseases like cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, a growing number of people suffer from insomnia, and it has actually been shown to affect people even more as they age.  While there are many prescription medication options, they are not without significant side effects including daytime sleepiness and dependence.  For this reason, efforts have been made in finding non-pharmacologic options for improvement in sleep.

In this study, researchers compare two non-pharmacological interventions, a Mindfulness Awareness course and a Sleep Hygiene course. Subjects were randomized and enrolled in one of the two six week interventions, each receiving two hours of training/education per week. Those in the Mindfulness Awareness group were taught the basic concept of mindfulness (paying attention to moment by moment experiences and thoughts without attachment or judgment) and had opportunities to practice various forms of mindfulness meditation.  The Sleep Hygiene course participants learned about sleep biology, establishing bedtime routines, as well as stress reduction and relaxation methods.

At the end of the study, subjects answered questions about their sleep and daytime fatigue using previously validated sleep and insomnia scoring systems.  Subjects who had taken the Mindfulness Awareness course were found to have significant improvement in not only sleep disturbance but also in daytime fatigue and other established insomnia symptoms.

The study did have some limitations; most subjects were over the age of 60 and the majority were female, long term follow up was also not obtained. Despite these limitations, mindfulness and meditation are generally not known to have any adverse side effects- so introducing these practices into your routine should certainly be a consideration if sleep is an issue!  Most communities offer affordable courses on mindfulness meditation and many free educational programs can be found on the web as well.

References:

Nagai M, Hoshide S, Kario K. Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease-A Review of the Recent Literature. Curr Cardiol Rev. 2010; 6 (1): 54-61

Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin, MR. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults with Sleep Disturbances. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 ;175 (4): 494

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Dr Negean

Negean Afifi D.O. is a board certified Emergency Medicine physician in Southern California and a Clinical Instructor for the UCLA School of Medicine. She has a passion for wellness and nutrition, with an emphasis on self-care. Dr. Afifi completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. She is a certified yoga instructor and has had training in Yoga Science at the American Meditation Institute. Dr. Afifi maintains her personal balance by connecting with patients and loved ones, staying active and perpetually seeking the best vegetarian burrito in LA.

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