However, when sleep is elusive we suffer. Sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobes of our brain thereby making us more reactive, less able to concentrate, and impairing our judgment and decision-making capabilities. Outcomes can be disastrous, as when people fall asleep at the wheel and cause fatal accidents. Lack of sleep also affects hormones related to feeling satiated and is a contributing factor to obesity.
In a recent sleep study conducted by Dr. David S. Black, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, people were divided into two groups. One group learned behaviors that could help them develop good sleep hygiene, like establishing a regular bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed. The other group underwent a six-week program on mindfulness meditation led by a certified teacher. At the end of the yearlong study, the people who learned the mindfulness approach had greater improvements in sleep quality and fewer symptoms of insomnia, depression and fatigue than those who received standard care. Moreover, unlike sleep-inducing drugs, mindfulness practice does not cause adverse side effects.
For nights of soothing, relaxing sleep and vivid dreams, I have found the following practices especially helpful and wish to share them with you. Try and do best you can.