A proper night’s sleep is absolutely essential for our long-term health and mental well-being. But getting enough sleep – and sleep of the best quality – is a requirement we often fail to meet. Taking sleeping pills is both addictive and dangerous, while simple breathing or mental exercises just aren’t effective for most of us. Sleep meditation, however, can guide us down to a deep sleep amazingly well because it works in harmony with our natural sleep cycles. For anyone who desperately wants to finally enjoy proper sleep, sleep meditation is the effective, harmless, and non-addictive solution you’ve been looking for.
An Overview of Natural Sleep Cycles
A full night’s sleep comprises several distinct cycles, each lasting 90 – 110 minutes on average. An individual cycle consists of separate stages, which are broadly divided into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-REM) sleep, with REM occupying proportionately more time as the night progresses and one cycle follows another. REM sleep, as most people know, is when we dream; there is still no firm consensus on exactly what purpose dreaming serves. NREM sleep is further divided into three stages of its own. N1 is a period of drowsiness with progressive loss of conscious awareness. The brain’s dominant electrical activity changes from the Alpha wave (7 – 13Hz) associated with relaxation to the Theta wave (4 – 7Hz) associated with the subconscious. N2 is a transitional phase marked by spikes of quite high frequency without consciousness. N3 is deep sleep and is characterized by very slow Delta waves.
The Dangers of Inadequate Sleep and Inappropriate Solutions
For most adults, 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night is optimal, though there are a few people (roughly 3% of us) who are able to do fine on less thanks to a genetic mutation. The timing of sleep during the day is governed by the circadian rhythm, a kind of natural inner clock which influences hormone levels and body temperature. Trying to circumvent the circadian rhythm is as unwise as not getting enough sleep. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to a doubling of the risk of heart disease as well as greater risks of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The psychological risks include depression and bi-polar disorder.
All too often, it is the process of falling asleep in the first place that is problematic. We just can’t seem to switch off, and the difficulty tends to be greatest at stressful times in our lives when we least need to have this problem! Pills and alcohol are two crude ways of trying to fall asleep, but they entail their own long-term effects, and can interfere with our natural sleep cycles. Nightmares, for example, are much more likely when alcohol is used, as REM sleep is suppressed in the early cycles until the alcohol has worn off; after this, the brain has a lot of “catching up” to do and this tends to result in extremely vivid dream imagery.
Sleep Meditation and Sleep Cycles
Sleep meditation is a far better answer, and has become even more effective in recent years thanks to developments in the audio technology of brainwave entrainment. While traditional meditation has always been useful in quieting the mind and aiding relaxation, it is a skill that requires dedicated practice and one that relatively few can master. Thankfully, the new sound recordings that have become available mean that anyone can benefit from sleep meditation and, even better, the effects can be felt even after you have gone to sleep. How is this possible?
A well-engineered sleep-meditation recording exposes the brain to periods of each frequency associated with falling asleep, taking you gradually down through Alpha and Theta and eventually into the deep sleep of Delta. It is this Delta state that we most need to reach, for it is here that the body’s repair mechanisms kick into high gear, releasing anti-aging and growth hormones and even stimulating the regeneration of cellular DNA. And the first sleep cycle – the one we have the most trouble falling into – is where the deepest Delta sleep occurs. While traditional meditation can help you fall asleep, it cannot continue to encourage your brain to resonate at the Delta frequency in the way that a sleep meditation recording can.
If you’re ready to try a sleep meditation recording for yourself, you want to make sure that you only use professionally-engineered recordings with demonstrated results. You will find an intelligent guide to these recordings here: Sleep Meditation MP3.