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Leave melatonin aside. Mindfulness, that is, mindfulness in the present moment, could be the answer to a better night's rest, according to a new meta-analysis. Researchers have analyzed multiple studies on the role of mindfulness in cognitive function and sleep quality in adults. And the results revealed some incredible benefits.

Participants who practiced this mindfulness before bed reported improvements in both the duration and quality of their sleep. They experienced fewer disturbances, fell asleep faster, and woke up feeling more refreshed.

This could be because meditation that cultivates that mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and increase relaxation and self-compassion. The conclusions of the aforementioned scientific article could lead an adult to a better position for a good night's rest.


There is a tendency to confuse meditation with 'mindfulness'. Gtres

For those who are not familiar with mindfulness, here are some very simple techniques:

  • Body scanning or asking ourselves how we feel and how our day went. Observe your thoughts without judgment.
  • Awareness of the breath (inhaling and exhaling at times, for example, from 1 to 4). Find a comfortable position in bed, close your eyes and breathe deeply a few times to relax body and mind.
  • A mindful walk after dinner to start incorporating mindfulness into the daily routine. If it's in nature, like a park close to home, all the better.
  • Read a chapter of a book without noise or the mobile phone around, so as not to end the day between screens that emit blue light.
  • Write a few words of gratitude to value everything we have instead of complaining about what we lack.

These practices can be performed only a few minutes before bedtime and can significantly affect sleep quality. By bringing awareness to your body, and releasing any tension from your day, you are setting the stage for a restful night's sleep. "A few minutes of meditation at night are also a good way to anchor yourself in the present moment and get rid of accumulated stress calmly and lucidly," adds Ananda Ceballos, psychologist and collaborator of the mindfulness application Petit BamBou. He advises ventilating the room, because a good room temperature is essential for a good night's sleep, and then sitting down and focusing on the sensations that air produces when it enters and leaves the body. "It's very relaxing."

The so-called white noise or uniform background sound has also been shown to be very effective in helping to fall asleep. "In reality there is no trick, but different ways to connect with what happens, to welcome without fear the flow of thoughts, to identify physical sensations and to consciously return to the present moment," explains Ceballos.


In a society where it is so normalized to take sleeping pills and, at the same time, melatonin supplements emerge everywhere and in all formats, a meta-analysis with randomized controlled trials is welcomed where mindfulness-based interventions had no effect on cognitive function but did improve sleep quality. However, the aforementioned psychologist finds it surprising that a scientific article makes such a categorical statement.

"Although I do not doubt it, I wonder about the need to always justify the benefits of meditation in a scientific way, as if science always had the last word," criticizes Ceballos, who finds this practice regularly beneficial regardless of the moment, by reducing mental and physical stress. "It improves the overall quality of life."

Since the late 90s, studies have been carried out to determine whether melatonin, which is a photosensitive hormone, that is, sensitive to light, could also be "psychosensitive", understood as sensitive to our inner state. But comparing melatonin and meditation is a bit excessive for this expert. "I think it's important and necessary for serious research (meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials) to be done on mindfulness-based interventions like this but, personally, I prefer to refer to my experience and that of the people who work with me."

What he has observed is that, after five to six weeks, participants in meditation courses describe the myriad benefits of body scanning exercise on sleep. "A few months later, they even claim that meditating during the day or before bed helps them sleep better."

When we meditate, a series of physiological changes occur, says the expert. "Meditation triggers the relaxation response, regulated by the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for rest and healing. People who meditate perceive themselves as more stable, both physically and emotionally, and with a greater willingness to cope with stress."

But, as a general rule, it is essential to establish the causes of insomnia or sleep problems before thinking that mindfulness can do everything. "When insomnia or other similar disorders are caused by external circumstances, such as situations of precariousness or labor exploitation, the practice of meditation will alleviate but not exclude the need to denounce what is legitimate to report," he says.


If meditation can indeed help us sleep better, we must not forget that it also favors us to be more awake, lucid and aware of our reality, says the psychologist. "We must not forget that connecting with our dignity and ability to act to transform reality is also essential to maintaining our global health."

To make this new mindfulness practice part of a daily routine, it's best to set aside a few minutes a day to integrate it gradually, she recommends. "It is important, especially at the beginning, to maintain a kind and tolerant attitude towards oneself. It can also be helpful to enlist the help of a professional instructor."

Finally, it is also convenient to remember that meditation, practiced with a utilitarian perspective, can increase frustration rather than solve it. "Meditation is not practiced just for something, meditation is practiced for something: for gratitude, for love of life, for curiosity and for generosity towards ourselves," concludes this expert.

  • HBPR