Many of my referee clients come to me looking for advice on how to improve their sleep, aided by the practice of meditation.
This is not likely to take you by huge surprise as, let’s be honest, there aren’t many people who’ll tell you they feel like they’re sleeping enough. More crucially, I don’t think there is anyone who sleeps well enough consistently and always wakes up refreshed and ready to go.
It’s quite common to wake up to an alarm that just feels too early, after not getting enough sleep. Frequently, many people are also waking up at least once during the night with thoughts racing through their minds.
Societally, we are hugely under-rested.
The world we live in is all about ‘doing more, having more and achieving more’. This means that sleep can easily tumble down the list of priorities, or our life schedule, such as working, physically training and officiating games makes sleep a ‘nightmare’.
In spite of not sleeping as much as you’d ideally like, it is still possible to improve the quality of your sleep.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. In reality, simply building 10 minutes of meditation into your daily program can not only help you fall asleep quicker but also improve the quality of your sleep.
This Is What Meditation Does & Why It Helps Improve Your Sleep Quality:
Quietens Your Mind Noise
Have you ever awoken in the middle of the night with your mind fully switched on? It happens to all of us. Luckily there’s a way to nullify those racing thoughts.
Meditation is proven to quieten this mental noise, allowing you to relax and let go of those thoughts which bug you, such as anxiety over an upcoming appointment.
Not only will this will help you quieten rogue thoughts down in the moment, but also reduce the unsettling noise during the day and increase your focus.
Alterations To Your Neurological Settings
Meditation not only improves your mood, but it alters you on a neurological level.
Studies have shown that as a result of meditating for 8-12 weeks, your amygdala (the fear and pain centre of your brain) decreases in size and the hippocampus (the learning and memory centre) expands.
This means you experience a neurological alliteration which allows you to have more mental clarity and less anxiety and fear by regularly practicing meditation.
Reduces Stress & Relaxes Your Body
Meditation doesn’t only alter your mind and how you react to stressors, such as an intense and highly competitive fixture where you have to raise your profile, but it makes physical changes to you as well.
Meditation has been proven to:
- Reduce the level of stress hormones set off in your body.
- Decrease your blood pressure.
- Improve your blood flow.
- Reduce physical pain and inflammation.
- Build up your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
These positive changes make sleeping easier.
Trains Your Body & Mind To Relax
Potentially one of the quickest ways to improve your sleep is to use a guided meditation practice to teach your mind and body to relax and promote sleep.
Many referees use a guided sleep meditation to calm down their busy minds, particularly after an evening fixture, and relax their bodies before bed.
So, listening to a meditation that is specially designed to help you fall asleep will train you to fall asleep faster and will also give you a tool when late-night or early morning insomnia hits.
Setting Up A Daily Meditation Program
Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can easily get started with these straight forward steps:
- Make a pledge. Decide that you want to start practicing meditation and make a commitment to it.
- Do it your own way. Get yourself into a comfortable position to meditate. You can practice meditation seated, in a chair or lying down, whatever feels good to you!
- Build yourself up. Spend a few minutes a day doing guided breathing exercises.
- Make time for YOU. Start off with 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time, listening to guided meditations, or just observing your breathing. (I recommend that you do this at a memorable time, such as before or after an activity which you carry out daily, you’re then less likely to forget to do it)
- Keep it simple. Set a timer and when your time is up, then it’s over. Then it is not on your mind for the rest of the day.
- Reject criticism. There is no such thing as good or bad meditation. If you did the practice, then the body will do the rest.
- Repeat. Practice again the next day.
- Follow up. Commit to practicing meditation for at least two weeks and then make adjustments if required.
Meditation doesn’t have to be outlandish. You don’t need to sit cross legged while meditating for an hour, or even chant OHMMMMM while you do it. It’s a very simple and powerful practice that can transform you mentally, physically, and emotionally.
All you have to do is decide that you’re going to give meditation a try and let your body do the rest.
At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help each other.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops and how I could help you or your officials.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team
Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team. A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.