For many of us, life is fast, loud and busy. Finding time to ‘switch off’ can feel impossible (though we’d encourage you to try). Even if you do manage to get a moment to yourself, you might have a brain that goes a mile a minute all day. Trying and failing to sit still for a few minutes could be agitating and disheartening, and you might think ‘I should give up now.’
If you’re having trouble getting into the ‘zen zone,’ we might have your perfect solution: sleep visualization. Sleep visualization uses gentle narration to guide you into a relaxed state as you drift off into the land of Z’s. Never tried it? Well, here are five reasons why it might be the ideal way for you to wind down. We've even prepared a sample session below featuring Centr expert Sergio Perera.
Sleep visualization takes our mind on a journey where we imaginatively engage all our senses. It’s like a bedtime story for adults. All we have to do is follow the voice as it leads us along a path, listening to the bubbling stream, breathing the mountain air, looking at a sunset on the horizon. As we do that, our stressful thoughts temporarily switch off as we hand ourselves over to the visualization. The images are designed to promote calming, stress-reducing sensations – you could call it a holiday for the mind – and studies show that using guided imagery can significantly reduce stress levels and enhance feelings of well-being.
Any creative visualization is a form of ‘active’ meditation – as in using your active mind to follow a set of instructions rather than trying to relax in a passive way. By using the mind in its active form, we’re effectively letting it do what it’s already really good at: thinking. The only difference is we’re directing the mind to think about something that’s relaxing.
Using guided imagery – such as blue skies, the sound of waves lapping against the shore and other idyllic, serene settings – promotes a change in the hypothalamus. This is a part of the brain associated with stress regulation that can’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s imagined. By directing the brain to feel calm, we trigger the parasympathetic nervous system which ignites tranquillity, or ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’. The end result is a more restful body and mind, and deeper sleep.
Studies suggest that meditation is even better for managing ongoing sleep issues than regular sleep hygiene practice. ‘Sleep hygiene’ means things like going to bed at the same time, turning off smartphone and screen devices after 9 pm and other good habits. Those things will help, of course, but practicing meditation on a regular basis can still help you get a better, more restful and less disturbed night’s sleep.
Many styles of meditation require us to be sitting and awake as we relax. But sleep visualization is meant to guide us to a more peaceful slumber, so you get to lie down in your most comfortable position. The added bonus? Guided sleep meditations are usually short. It’s such a small time investment – with such big rewards – you really have nothing to lose.
Try this sleep visualization sample:
With the full version – and many more like it – available on Centr, you can start sleeping well and feeling better.
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