If you’re trying to get better sleep, conventional wisdom has just been unseated by meditation.
Short of prescriptions, the recommendations for getting quality sleep have long been things like setting a bedtime routine and keeping the TV out of the bedroom. But a new study just released by the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, put a traditional program for changing poor sleep habits up against one where participants were trained in a mindful meditation practice.
Though the study was small, involving 49 people with disturbed sleep patterns, Dr. David S. Black and his team found that those taught meditation techniques improved their sleep by 27 percent, while the better bedtime routine group only showed an 11 percent rise in sleep quality. The meditation group also showed improvement in secondary symptoms like insomnia, depression and fatigue severity. Both groups saw comparable, moderate declines in anxiety, stress and inflammation.
Sleep disturbances are estimated to affect half of all Americans over age 55, and are associated with higher levels of fatigue, mood problems like depression and general lower quality of life.
Another study last week found an additional benefit of meditation: It helped stall age-related decline in brain function.