A demanding job can be stressful, and often, that translates into poor sleep.

Stress is associated with getting less sleep than normal. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress as well, as people who are sleep deprived often show greater signs of stress.

Mindfulness meditation can help if you’re feeling stressed and losing sleep. The relaxation response can counteract some of the negative effects of stress, and help you calm your mind and body so you’ll have an easier time getting the sleep you need for good mental health.

Why Stress Makes it Hard to Sleep

Stress, from work or other factors, causes a state of hyperarousal in which you may feel too anxious to sleep and easily disturbed when you’re resting. When you’re stressed, your body creates elevated levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make it difficult to sleep.

Prolonged stress can lead to burnout, when you’re not able to recover with sleep. Burnout can cause sleep problems, including fragmented sleep, excessive daytime drowsiness, and a shorter sleep duration.

Why You Need Sleep to Perform Well

The time you spend in bed is important for creativity and productivity. When you sleep, your brain processes information, helping you cement memories and better understand what you’ve learned during the day.

REM sleep supports abstract problem solving, which is why many people are able to do their best work right after waking up. REM sleep is also associated with creativity, and you’re better prepared to find solutions to problems after sleeping on it.

How Meditation Can Help With Stress and Sleep

Practicing meditation helps to trigger a relaxation response. This response includes decreased oxygen consumption and reduced psychological distress. It can mitigate depression, anxiety, and insomnia, and regular meditation can counteract the wear of stress on the body.

Meditation can help you sleep better. Regular mindfulness meditation can support improvements in sleep quality, offering less insomnia, fatigue, and depression.

The best types of meditation for sleep are progressive muscle relaxation, mindful breathing, counting, and guided meditation. These types of meditation require less cognitive effort and can help relax your body and mind.

Using Meditation to Relax and Sleep

Try these meditation practices to promote mindfulness and healthy sleep, even when you’re feeling stressed:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Eliminate muscular tension by tensing, then relaxing muscle groups one by one while breathing deeply. You should contract each muscle group for five seconds, then relax it for 30 seconds, inhaling before tightening and exhaling during relaxation. You can repeat this process twice or more to release tension and let go.

  • Mindful breathing: You’ll focus on your breath with mindful breathing. You should feel it flow through you, visualizing your breath as it goes from your nose to throat, chest, and belly. The 4-7-8 method can be especially calming for sleep. With this method, you inhale through your nose for a four count, then hold it for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth for an eight count.

  • Counting meditation: Counting meditation may feel similar to counting sheep. All you need to do is start counting slowly to 100 or as far as you need to fall asleep. If your mind shifts to stressful thoughts, gently acknowledge them and return your focus back to the count.

Information provided by the experts at www.tuck.com