4 Simple Buddhist Methods for Better Sleep and Restful Mornings
How to apply the Buddhist approach to your sleep routine
Getting the right amount of quality sleep plays an essential role in everyone’s life. Without good sleep, our brain can’t work properly, and our ability to make good decisions or be creative significantly decreases.
Even though we understand the importance of a good rest, the statistics show that “1 in 3 U.S. adults regularly don’t get enough sleep”, and “62% of adults around the world say they don’t sleep as well as they’d like”.
Losing some sleep occasionally due to binge-watching or heavy workload won’t ruin your health, but continual lack of quality sleep might lead to long-term problems like lowered immunity, depressions, heart attack, or diabetes.
While getting enough quality sleep can be problematic due to the many distractions around us, there’s always a way to fight this.
A year ago, I stumbled upon Nick Keomahavong’s YouTube channel. Nick, a Buddhist monk, shared simple methods they’re using in the Thai monastery for better sleep and joyful mornings.
I followed his advice step by step, and the results showed up in less than a week. So if you have problems falling asleep or getting out of bed due to morning laziness, you’ll benefit from these methods as well.
Stick to the original purpose
When Nick came to Thailand to become a Buddhist monk, instead of a bedroom, he got a simple tent. Although it might seem like an uncomfortable way to spend the nights, he admits that this simplicity made him sleep better than ever before.
In the western world, we’re using the bed for anything from chatting on the phone, watching the TV, to eating. This negatively impacts our sleep when it comes to bedtime.
Once you start using your bed for activities other than sleep, your brain will become overly active every time you jump in the bed.
If you want to have a good sleep, you need to achieve the opposite effect. You should aim for the point when you step into the bedroom and start feeling tired and ready for sleep immediately.
If you teach your mind that getting in bed means going to sleep, you won’t have trouble falling asleep.
Follow basic Feng-Shui principles
Implementing fundamental Feng-Shui principles into your bedroom can help you create the balance needed for adequate sleep.
To achieve harmony in the sleeping area, you have to place the bed in the right spot. Its headboard should be touching the wall, while its sides need to stay away from walls. Place nightstands on both sides of the bed to keep the space balanced.
Avoid mirrors, or at least keep them away from facing your bed directly. Aim for soothing colors in your bedroom — natural shades or pastel tones help create a cozy atmosphere.
Be thankful to sleep better
Before going to sleep, Buddhist monks reflect on the good deeds they did for others during the day. This ritual brings in positive feelings and helps them understand their meaning and usefulness in the world.
Other people, though, use the last minutes before falling asleep to reflect on their days. You might be replaying scenarios of the moments you can’t change anymore or stressing out about the things you can’t impact yet.
None of these activities are meant for this time of the day.
The last thoughts you hold in your mind before falling asleep are the first things you’ll think about the next morning. To improve the quality of your sleep and your mornings, avoid any negative feelings and worries at night time.
Dedicate the last moments of your day to a gratitude practice. Being thankful for everything you have comes with various benefits. A few minutes of this practice helps boost your immune system, improve your mental health and sleep, and enhance your self-esteem.
Make it uncomfortable
As the bedroom is a place for rest, it seems logical to keep it comfortable and cozy. However, your comfy bed can induce laziness when it comes to waking up — nobody wants to get out of the warm bed on a cold morning.
If you keep your bed as plain and simple as possible, you avoid the urge to stay in it longer. Forget fancy pillows or fluffy blankets.
Nick Keomahavong described how he used to sleep in a tent on a thin yoga mat when he first came to Monkhood. Instead of the pillow, he used a robe he folded and put under his head every night.
Lacking comfort helps you overcome the need to stay in the bed after waking up. Even if you don’t go back to sleep once you’re up, you might remain in the bed on the phone for another hour.
When your bed is comfortless, getting out of it doesn’t hurt.
A simple method for falling asleep fast
If you still can’t sleep after the gratitude practice, you can follow a simple technique I heard about from Dandapani. He learned this method from the guru during his stay at a monastery and shared it on the London Real talk with Brian Rose.
It’s a simple method that takes no more than 10 minutes.
Lay down in the bed on your back, put your hands by your side with palms facing upwards and concentrate on your body. Visualize the energy flowing through your body.
Then focus on your limbs. First, your right leg — feel the energy rushing through it and try to absorb this energy into the nervous system. Repeat this process with each arm and leg. Now imagine moving this energy from the nervous system into the spine.
Dandapani explains that once you absorb the energy from your limbs into the nervous system and let it flow into your spine, you relax your muscles, and the body becomes still, thus, ready to sleep.
For me, this method works like a charm every time. If you’re not familiar with meditation, it might be a tricky exercise the first time you try it, but you’ll get there with a little practice.
To have better sleep and painless mornings, use the following principles:
- The bed is meant only for sleeping. If you’re using it as a living room area, you’ll have problems falling asleep as your brain thinks being in bed means having fun.
- Never reflect on negative scenarios or stressful situations right before falling asleep. Instead of this, be grateful for the good things that crossed your path during the day, and sum up the good things you did for others.
- If you want to avoid laziness and hitting the snooze button every morning, keep your bed as plain as possible. Less comfort means easier mornings.
- To fall asleep faster, visualize the energy flowing from your limbs to your spine.
Although the methods might not work for you immediately, they will impact your life positively in the long term once you stick to them. It just needs a bit of patience and discipline.
This post was originally published on Medium.