Sleep Better, Scientists Say, With This Visual Trick

Hmmm, could there be something that actually works outside of a sleep lab? Let’s see.

Sleeping poorly is a vicious cycle of feeling stressed and anxious, going to bed with your mind in a tumble, thrashing around to get to sleep, then waking up feeling tired, stressed, and anxious. How do you escape it?

The cycle of sleeping poorly simply feeds on itself. You’re tired and stressed because you sleep poorly and you sleep poorly because you’re tired and stressed. But could there be a way to trick your brain into restful sleep? Some scientists say yes.

New sleep research from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University has found that giving people a chance to look at their own brains as they lie in bed, actually helps them relax, unwind, and get to sleep, resting more comfortably and waking up feeling refreshed.

Scientists invited 12 healthy students into the lab, then fitted them with EEG monitors and VR headsets that contained artistic visualizations of their brainwaves. The more excited the person’s brain was, the more active the visualization would be, with greater contrast, color, and amplitude.

After 10 minutes from the time the students laid down, there was a significant drop in what’s called “pre-sleep cognitive arousal,” meaning their minds were quieter and ready for sleep.

While there are no plans to commercialize their findings, researchers believe they can take some of what was learned and bring those ideas into your Sleep Oasis® -- no VR headset required.

The neurofeedback element of the system is closely aligned with mindfulness meditation. It would be possible to achieve similar benefits by performing mindfulness meditation before sleep, however, mindfulness meditation requires practice before the benefits can be felt. Here are some helpful thoughts on mindfulness.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness mediation is not a new topic and in fact, the exercise has been around for many years. What it really comes down to is ‘paying attention on purpose’ or being in the moment so that you’re aware of what’s going on in your own mind.

  • Find a quiet place, and get into a comfortable sitting position/ Practice focusing on your breathing, and the present moment, for 8 or 10 minutes at first, then gradually increase the time.
  • Notice when your attention wanders off. Don't lose patience with yourself. It's common when you first start. Just be aware of when that happens and gently redirect your attention back to your breath.
  • Accept a certain degree of discomfort and avoid shifting positions and moving around too much. Focus on stillness.
  • Develop concentration and mindfulness together. Concentration helps you see your mistakes while mindfulness helps you remove the stories you’re telling yourself about how you made them.
  • Your mindfulness practice should fit your lifestyle, after all, you’re not a monk living in a monastery.

Mindfulness practice helps you improve their mental abilities, such as abstract thinking, memory and creativity. And, it extends to relationships, improving leadership and social skills. Perhaps most importantly, it simply helps you enjoy life with all the good, bad and ugly that comes with it.

Mindfulness is an acceptance of the present moment, whatever that might be.

So until researchers come up with a home device to trick our brains into deep sleep, consider practicing mindfulness meditation. You may discover something wonderful and feel better, too.

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