We live in a busy world, lots of hustling here and there, and at times we are convinced that the world is moving faster and faster.
So fast, that when it’s time for a restful slumber, we find it hard to calm our mind and slow our body down.
Many times, the conversation leads to meditation and how valuable it can be, to not only decrease stress and anxiety but helpful for a more peaceful sleep.
In a past blog, Meditation Basics for Your Health (and Sleep!), we discussed the benefits of Meditation for sleep and covered broad basics and types of meditation practices.
The practice of meditation can benefit the mind and body by increasing physical relaxation that leads to calmness and improving psychological balance for overall health and wellbeing.
I am not an expert in meditation, but recently after coming across the info below, I myself committed to exploring and trying out short meditations. Specifically, I tried the Headspace 10 Session Basic Series. After feeling “lighter and more peaceful” after just 5 minutes of meditation guidance, I became intrigued in finding out more on meditation guided phone apps.
Physiological and psychological changes with meditation
Let’s take a moment to talk about what changes the body can feel when meditating.
Numerous studies have been conducted to observe how meditation can help with a variety of medical conditions, from high blood pressure to pain. Other studies have helped researchers discover how meditation affects the brain.
The following are some of the health benefits this research has uncovered:
- Reducing anxiety, depression, and other mood disturbances
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing common menopausal symptoms
- Decreasing sleep disturbances
- Improving pain management
A study by Brook et al. (2013) found that lifestyle changes, such as adding meditation, are an excellent choice for those individuals diagnosed with pre-hypertension (BP 120–139/80–89 mm Hg).
They concluded that these individuals are excellent candidates to use meditation to help lower their blood pressure and possibly prevent a transition to true hypertension.
They also stated that individuals that are diagnosed with stage I hypertension (BP 140–159/90–99 mm Hg) who want to avoid medication use and are considered low risk are a reasonable candidate for meditation therapy.
The National Sleep Foundation promotes meditation as a useful tool for those that are concerned about their sleep hygiene.
They state that it is an all-natural, medication-free way to treat sleep disturbances.
Their experts suggest that if you experience trouble falling asleep at night, relaxation techniques used with meditation can help you calm your body and quiet your mind for a restful sleep.
Another study by Spadaro and Hunker (2016) explored the use of an online asynchronous mindfulness meditation intervention to reduce stress and improve mood and cognition.
Undergraduate and graduate students at three universities were offered an eight-week online intervention. These students were then followed for 16 weeks following the use of the meditation program.
The research showed that with consistent use, this mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped these students to reduce stress and anxiety significantly; while improving attention, concentration, and accuracy.
Want to learn more? Here are some short videos demonstrating the power of meditation:
- Ted Talk – The Power of Mindfulness Meditation: Demonstrates the science behind how meditation can change your brain literally and decrease the effects of stress.
- The Scientific Power of Meditation – a quick tutorial on meditation “mechanics”
- Top 5 Meditation Myths: Why Should You Meditate
Studies prove that meditation can be helpful for our health and wellbeing, but finding the time and what works best for your situation can be time-consuming.
Got an App for that?
It can be difficult at times to balance work, family, and downtime in our fast-paced life of modern society.
It is essential to take time for yourself, and it may seem an even more daunting task to devote time for meditation, especially for those who find it hard to sit still (like myself).
However, there is overwhelming evidence that meditation can help you improve your health and general wellbeing. So, with such a hectic lifestyle, how do you find the time to practice meditation?
Many of my patients find that a mobile app works well for their meditation needs. I encourage patients to explore what might be a good fit and helpful for them.
Here are some of the most popular meditation apps:
- I found The Basic Meditation Intro Series was a very easy way to “feel” out the benefits of short meditations ~ so calming and grounding
- Award-winning meditation app to help you find your calm
- Offers over 30,000 free guided meditations
- Meditations that can help you overcome daily life stressors
Each of these apps offers different meditation options and features as part of their free application. Premium options are also available for a small monthly or annual fee if you are looking for more advanced features.
Whether you choose a group approach on an app for guided meditation or prefer to practice meditation techniques on an individual basis, regular use of these apps can help you reduce stress in your daily life.
This, in turn, may help decrease your risk of additional stress-related medical conditions that can affect the mind and body.
Here are a few more tips that can help you maximize the benefit of using a meditation app:
- Creating pop-up notifications promotes daily usage
- Can help develop a positive habit to build regularity in using the app
- The free version may not have a reminder option
- Trying the free version can help you decide if you would like to pay for the app
- Don’t forget: If the free version requires payment, cancel it before the monthly charge occurs
- Give it some time to find a meditation style and location that best fits your lifestyle
- Couch, living room, outside or while taking a bath can be great locations for meditating
Meditation may be just what you are looking for to help balance your life and improve your sleep.
What is your favorite meditation app? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below.
Need more help sleeping?
Are restful nights still eluding you even after adding meditation to your sleep or stress-lowering regime?
If so, you might be suffering from snoring or sleep apnea. Let me help you learn more about how a custom made dental device could help you have a peaceful night’s sleep.
Take a quick look at my sleep guide to learn more!
Other Helpful Articles:
Banth, S., & Ardebil, M. D. (2015). Effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on pain and quality of life of patients with chronic low back pain. International Journal of Yoga, 8(2), 128.
Brook, R. D., Appel, L. J., Rubenfire, M., Ogedegbe, G., Bisognano, J. D., Elliott, W. J., … & Townsend, R. R. (2013). Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension, 61(6), 1360-1383.
Cramer, H., Rabsilber, S., Lauche, R., Kümmel, S., & Dobos, G. (2015). Yoga and meditation for menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors—a randomized controlled trial. Cancer, 121(13), 2175-2184.
Insomnia, sleep health, sleep tools, and tips. How medication can treat insomnia. (2019). National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-meditation-can-treat-insomnia
Spadaro, K. C., & Hunker, D. F. (2016). Exploring the effects of an online asynchronous mindfulness meditation intervention with nursing students on stress, mood, and cognition: A descriptive study. Nurse Education Today, 39, 163-169.