The world to me seems to be speeding up everyday. We are working longer hours, we are busier than we have ever been before, the traffic is snarling more and more and our stress levels are going through the roof. The consequence to this is that more and more people are suffering insomnia and this can become dangerous and affect your ability to function effectively. One of the best tools to help you with both insomnia and stress is meditation and in particular, meditating before going to bed.
I want to make a clear disclaimer at this point, if you are suffering severe insomnia or stress, please ensure that you get medical help because long term stress and insomnia can cause serious medical issues. However, I would encourage you to use Meditation in conjunction with the therapies a medical practitioner might prescribe as effective meditation will help.
One of the core mistakes that people make with meditation and sleep is that they try to use meditation to actually go to sleep and this never works and in fact it can actually make it harder to get to sleep. The role of meditation before sleep is to slow your body and your mind down so that it gets to a point where it is easier for it to fall naturally asleep.
There are many techniques that you can use to meditate including a seated meditation or a lying down meditation. I recommend people use the sitting method over the lying method because using the lying method so close to going to sleep you may tend to go to sleep rather than actually meditating. There is a clear difference between sleep and meditation.
The core difference is that during meditation your mind needs to be clear but focused where as during sleep, you do not want to be focused you want nothing to be focused in your mind and you want your body and mind to get to that point where you shutdown.
What I recommend is that if you are going to meditate prior to going to sleep then you need to use a basic meditation plan. The plan goes like this ...
1. Your meditation session should take no more than 20 minutes
2. Your meditation session should start 40 minutes prior to going to bed
3. Your meditation technique during the session should use either the deep breathing Technique or basic number counting.
4. Do not drink alcohol, coffee, tea or any other caffeinated drink prior to sleep or you will affect the effectiveness of the meditation session.
Two meditation techniques you should avoid 60 minutes prior to going to bed is the reflective meditation technique or the affirmation meditation technique. I have found from my own experience that if you use these techniques so close to going to bed you can start your mind focusing on either the affirmations or reflections post your meditation session.
This means with only 20 minutes between when you finish your session and when you go to sleep, sometimes you will find that your thoughts continue on after the session and consequently can disrupt your sleep which is what you actually trying to avoid.
One of the reasons I have recommended that you do not meditate and then goto bed, is that sometimes I find that the meditation will bring out various chemicals and stir up feelings in your body which could disrupt your ability to sleep and be leaving the period of 20 minutes between meditating and sleep free is enough to settle you down to get a good nights sleep.
I should note that my colleagues and I use this technique because our jobs are often highly stressful and using this process at night after a heavy day so that we can get a quality nights sleep.
When used effectively, meditation can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your sleep and the quality of your life. However, meditation is like a sport, the more practice you do, the more effective you become.
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