08 Oct How A Mindfulness App Broke My Insomnia Cycle By Darcenia Teasdale
If we have had a poor night’s sleep, we can struggle to concentrate at work, make mistakes, have poorer exam or test results, and our response times can be slower. Insomnia problems are medically proven to have a significant effect on our mental and physical health, and therefore, it is vital that we find a solution to this essential part of our lives.
I have always experienced sleep problems from insomnia to nightmares, tiredness in the morning, night terrors, feeling hot, waking after a couple of hours then can’t get back to sleep, and most of all, the three a.m. anxiety. I have tried so many tips for sleeping over the years, but my issues are always exacerbated by stress from the day before, problems I can’t resolve, and events coming up as all of these concerns play over on repeat in my mind. I’m sure this sounds familiar.
Three months ago, I discovered the Sleep stories on Calm which is a subscription based mindfulness app with daily meditation, stress release programmes, calming music, and relaxing bedtime stories
Adults listening to Sleep Stories could be 2019’s version of us rediscovering the joys of the colouring in book. It may be a trend, but the psychology backs it up for me. Remember as a child we used to listen to Mum or Dad reading a bedtime story? If you are a parent, you must have that blissful feeling as your child drops off to sleep as they listen to a familiar tale, and you see all the excitement of the day ebb away to calmness. And then children reach an age when they don’t want that bedtime story routine anymore, and the bedtime problems can increase.
So, how did a Mindfulness App Bedtime Story break my insomnia cycle?
The calm voice of the narrator. If you have ever watched the CBeebies Bedtime story, you will appreciate the importance of the appropriate tone, pace, inflection and overall warmth of a story narrator. A bedtime story is supposed to calm us, settle our emotions and focus us away from our environment and daily stresses. My favourite is the soothing tone of Eric Braa whose voice immediately puts me into my sleep zone.
The visualisation of familiar calm images. These Sleep Stories are not exciting plot driven adventures. They all create clear pictures to concentrate the mind, and remember. Train journeys, detailed places, familiar children’s stories all have images which heighten our visualisation and maintain our attention so we do not drift into worry mode.
The familiarity. The children’s fairy tales, train journeys, and natural world are all narrated with vivid descriptions and provide that sense of comfort in the familiar before sleep.
Mindful relaxation. Each story session begins with the introduction of settling physically into your sleep position in bed, and the awareness of the present moment just as a meditation session begins.
Building Our Dendrites with the Daily Habit. Young children follow the bedtime routine for a good night’s sleep – bath, pyjamas, story – and sleep experts also recommend creating a nightly sleep routine to improve our quality and quantity of sleep as adults. Using the Calm app, I have finally established a changed mindset in “facing” bedtime, and formed a new behavioural routine. I look forward to my story with Eric Braa – whether it is a train ride in Sweden, South Africa, Canada or on the Orient Express – and I have never reached the actual destination! I have also started to listen to one of the daily meditation sessions just before I go upstairs to bed.
There are many mindfulness apps available which have proved very popular and users report excellent results in changing their mindset, establishing a routine, and improved sleep quality. There are also sleep stories and calming bedtime songs and music available on streaming services.
Banish your nightly worries, take control of your thoughts with a calm voice and music, and beautiful imagery to establish strong relaxed dendrites for a blissful night’s sleep. If it worked for me, it can work for you!