Introduction to Mindful Sleep

Have you ever finished a big day at work, pulled yourself under the covers and then stared at the ceiling for hours, lost in thought about the day, or racing through your to-do-list for tomorrow? Before you know it you’ve already counted 500 sheep.

This is normal for so many Australian families.

In fact, sleep disturbances affect both parents and their kids.

The good news is that Smiling Mind has partnered with the IGA Family Program to provide you and your family with practical mindfulness activities and specific meditations which can assist you to fall asleep, by connecting you to your body and breath, and then using imagery to increase relaxation and restfulness.

Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep. That’s because sleep, inversely also helps to cultivate a mindful attitude to life.

Sleep, Children & Happiness

A recent study by the ABC and Melbourne University which included 47,000 children around Australia reported that sleep has been identified as a key indicator of a child’s overall happiness.

Children who were sleeping for the recommended hours per night (9-10 hours) were twice as likely to report feeling happy lots of the time than those children who were not sleeping for the recommended hours per night.

Interestingly, as our approach to technology in the bedroom has shifted in the last 10-years, 47% of children from the study reported sleeping with a screen-based device in reach on at least some nights of the week and 29% of children reported that their device stopped them from getting enough sleep on at least some nights during the week.

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgment. Practicing this before bed can ease worries about the future or fretting over the past, and in this frame of mind, peaceful slumber may come more readily. Practicing mindfulness during the day also helps with sleep. People who are more focused on their moment-to-moment experience as it unfolds before moving on to the next experience are better able to leave worries or concerns at the door as they prepare for sleep

Starry Night Meditation – Adults

One of Smiling Mind’s most popular meditations for Adults on the app is Starry Night. This meditation will help you prepare for a good nights sleep. It’s best done lying down, before bed, or before taking a power nap:

Sleep & Thoughts – Children

This is the recommended night time or before sleep meditation from Smiling Mind for 7-9 year-olds:

Other Mindfulness tactics to help with sleep

In addition to a formal meditation practice using a Smiling Mind meditation like Starry Night, there are informal mindfulness practices that can be used at night to aid your sleep and the nighttime routines of your children.

For example, as you prepare for bed, slow down and bring awareness to exactly what it is that you are doing; from showering, to brushing your teeth, to hopping into bed. Do your best to stay present with each bedtime activity so your mind starts to connect these activities with sleep time.

Also, it’s important you’re aware of these Sleep Hygiene Tips you can try to implement as a family:

1

Have a regular bedtime and wake time - even on weekends and days off!
2

If you haven’t been able to get to sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do something calming or boring - but avoid anything stimulating like watching TV or checking your phone.
3

Avoid stimulants within 4-6 hours of going to bed. For example, caffeine or nicotine.
4

Avoid alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. Many people believe that alcohol can help them to get to sleep at first, but it actually interrupts the overall quality of sleep.
5

Think of your bed as a place only for sleeping and sex. Do not use your bed for other normal behaviours like TV or reading a book so that your body can start to learn the important connection that this space has.
6

If you need to nap, make sure it is before 3pm and for less than an hour.
7

If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t reach for your clock (or iPhone!) frequent clock watching or time checking can reinforce negative thoughts about lack of sleep.
8

Regular exercise is a good idea, but nothing too strenuous less than 4-hours before sleep.
9

A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but timing is important. Practise what works best for you. Do you prefer to have an empty stomach? Or could you try a light snack like a warm glass of milk?
Smiling Mind