Meditate, don’t medicate for a good night’s sleep
People who have trouble sleeping often turn to medication for a good night’s rest, but this can sometimes lead to dependency and daytime grogginess.
However, there may be an effective, natural alternative. In a recent study, researchers found that mindful meditation may improve sleep quality for older adults.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), mindfulness is a form of meditation that teaches you to be aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations in daily life and to accept each experience in a nonjudgmental way. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found these practices to be effective in treating poor sleep.
“One third of all adults get insufficient sleep as defined by less than seven hours. Twenty percent get less than six hours,” says Dr. David W. Koh, an Advocate Medical Group pulmonologist specializing in sleep medicine in Normal, Ill. “This leads to depressed moods, a decrease in cognitive function, weight gain and an increase in cancer.”
To find treatments and reduce the need for sleep-enhancing drugs, researchers studied the effects of mindful awareness practices and sleep hygiene education on 49 adults with an average age of 66.
About half of the participants practiced mindful exercises, including sitting meditation, mindful eating, appreciation meditation and mindful walking. The other half learned to change poor sleep habits by establishing a bedtime routine.
Although each group showed improved sleep quality, mindfulness was more successful. It had effects similar to current clinical treatments for sleep problems. Mindful awareness practices also helped improve insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms and fatigue.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.