Sleep-deprived seniors across the country will be relieved to hear that free and easy meditation can improve your sleep. With numerous studies showing the health benefits of meditation, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety, the practice offers a great alternative to counting sheep, sleeping pills and other insomnia tricks.
Meditation in the evening helps calm you down, relaxes your body and reduces worry before bedtime, explains Dr. Julie Carrier, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, scientific director of the Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network and the director of Sleep On It, the Canadian public health campaign on sleep.
Watch this recent webinar on sleep for seniors, including a recording of a guided meditation from Gabriela Otoya, a certified yoga instructor and Amica Life Enrichment Coordinator, and expert sleep tips from Dr. Carrier. Keep reading to learn how to meditate to help common sleep challenges.
Solutions for sleep challenges
Sleep masks, melatonin supplements or different sleeping positions can help some older adults get a full night’s rest, but they don’t work for everyone. Seniors tend to have lighter, more fragmented sleep, which can be aggravated by pain or medication side effects. Plus, they’re more likely to suffer from disorders such as sleep apnea – so it’s important to talk to your health care provider about these issues, says Dr. Carrier.
Still, sleep can be improved by getting exercise and natural light during the daytime. Read Expert sleep tips for seniors for more advice, including sleep hygiene habits to set the stage for sleep, and relaxing activities such as meditation. It’s a great habit to start, because sleep boosts your immune system, cardiovascular health, cognitive skills and emotional and hormone regulation.
How to meditate for better sleep
Different types and lengths of meditation can all be beneficial for sleep. Mindfulness meditation can help you focus on your body, your breathing and letting go of your thoughts, for instance. A guided meditation via a video or app — often set to soothing music for sleep – can also help you drift off, as will a body scan meditation done in the evening or in bed as you prepare to rest.
“Even a five-minute body scan, mentally going from your head all the way down to your toes, can definitely make your sleep better,” says Otoya.
Daily meditation is ideal but first you need to learn how to do it. If possible, consider signing up for in-person or online meditation classes to learn the basics, plus read how-to articles. Fortunately, there are also a lot of free videos: search YouTube for “body scan meditation,” “mindfulness meditation for beginners” or “guided meditations for sleep.” You can also download apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace or Calm onto your smartphone or tablet and try their free meditation exercises.
Get more sleep tips from Dr. Carrier and a guided chakra meditation from Otoya in our webinar. Plus, be sure to follow Amica Senior Lifestyles on Facebook to learn about other upcoming Webinars for Seniors with nationally-recognized experts. From the stress-busting benefits of music to internet safety, Amica empowers seniors and their loved ones to stay engaged and informed.
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