Here at Silentnight we are big advocates of resting at intervals throughout the day, so we were delighted to see the details of a recent clinical trial that highlighted the importance of meditation and sleep, published in The New York Times this week.
The trial, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, recruited 50 adults with moderate sleep problems and assigned them to follow one of two programs.
In one group, the adults learned behaviours that could help them develop good sleep hygiene, like establishing a regular bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed. The other group underwent a six-week program on mindfulness meditation - the nonjudgmental awareness of the thoughts and feelings drifting through one's mind - led by a certified teacher.
At the end of the yearlong study, the people who learned the mindfulness approach had greater improvements in sleep quality and fewer symptoms of insomnia, depression and fatigue than those who received standard care.
The author of the study, David S. Black, said mindfulness meditation probably helped settle the brain's arousal systems. And unlike widely used sleep drugs, it does not have potentially severe side effects, said Dr. Black, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California.
"Given the many health concerns pertaining to sleep aid medication use in older adults," he added, "mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality."
Do you have trouble sleeping? Find sleep tips from our sleep expert Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan here