by Alex Bernier
What’s worse, a sleepless night, or the day after?
I struggled with chronic bouts of insomnia my entire life. I would sleep less than 1-2 hours a night, go through the entire next day thinking about how being so tired will finally give me a restful night of sleep, only to find myself wide-awake at 3:43am, counting the minutes until my dreaded alarm clock would announce another day of sluggishness.
For some reason, my mental acuity was always at its sharpest once I put myself to bed. I’d go from being a wired human body scientist capable of reading through pages of useless knowledge between 10 pm and 5 am, to a baggy-eyed chump barely able to formulate coherent thoughts by day.
Insomnia is an awful vicious cycle, and discussing how poor sleep disrupted virtually every aspect of my life would take an entire novel. It is much easier, however, to share my experiences with the very few ‘’sleep solutions’’ that made a difference in completely reversing the condition.
Pharmaceuticals did nothing. Cleaning my diet, surprisingly, actually made my insomnia worse. Changing my night time routine; writing a grateful log, stretching before bed, and stop using electronic devices after 10 pm, instituted some much-needed discipline in my life, but did little regarding falling and staying asleep.
Taking large doses of magnesium, the anti-stress mineral, for three years noticeably improved the quality of my sleep, more so because it reduced my anxiety levels throughout the day than having a direct impact on the insomnia. Same with rebalancing my gut flora.
Still, nothing can compare to the effects mindful meditation has had on my sleep patterns. I felt a significant difference after accumulating ten total hours and completing the incredible sleep package offered in the Headspace application.
I have never been able to fall asleep so quickly, sleep like a log for the entire night, and wake up fresh, ready to take on the day the next morning. Considering all other meditation apps and techniques I had tried in the past irritated me more than anything, I have to say I am completely biased towards Headspace and the teachings of Andy Puddicombe, its founder.
The life-changing improvements meditation has generated do not undermine all the other important things that have helped me improving along my journey, but I can confidently say it has played a significant role in eradicating my chronic insomnia. I have learned to change my relationship with sleep, and can now fall asleep within 5 minutes after bedtime - something I would never have thought possible.
I am an entirely different sleeper.
Exercising and changing your diet will be useless if you cannot get an optimal night of sleep. If you are struggling with falling or staying asleep, I strongly advise giving a meditation trip a try. It certainly empowered me in creating my victory.