Lack of sleep can do more than make you a little drowsy the next day. Think fatigue, irritability, lack of focus and hunger pangs on one end to health risks ranging from depression to cancer on the other. If you opt for sleeping pills to help you sleep, you could be left feeling just as groggy as if you hadn’t slept at all and end up with other side effects link dry mouth or even drug dependence.
Lack of sleep is a very big problem. Sometimes it’s due to factors we can’t control, like working long hours or being woken up earlier than you planned by construction noises. Insomnia was a public health concern long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emotional and economic stressors of 2020 and 2021 have only made it worse. Throughout the pandemic, experts all over the world have reported an increase in insomnia prevalence as one of the many ways the COVID-19 has managed to ravage our health, whether or not the virus has actually infected us.
There are a lot of ways to improve your quality of sleep, from increasing your exercise, changing your diet, adding yoga or other rituals.
One of the simplest ways to help yourself, and even your kids, is to fall asleep listening to guided meditations, sleep stories or relaxing music. A 2018 review study suggested that mindfulness was more effective than other interventions alone in helping people drift into sleep. These recordings are available on paid apps like Calm or HeadSpace. In addition, you can find a good sampling of them for free on YouTube. MedShadow has assembled some our free favorites for you to try.
These meditations focus on exactly what you’re feeling, here and now, letting you gradually let go of the day and fall asleep.
Take a moment to focus on each part of your body — from forehead and chin, for example, down to soles and toes — one by one, to release tension and help prepare your body for a healing snooze.
Soothing voices paint relaxing scenes in your head, giving you permission to leave the day’s stresses behind.
Let your “inner kid” imagine wandering the magical halls of your favorite Harry Potter book, on a festive holiday morning. Check it out on YouTube here.
Sleep Stories for Kids
Adults aren’t the only ones who toss and turn. Help your little ones find restful, restorative sleep with these kid-friendly sleep stories.
Kids get stressed, too. In less than seven minutes, this meditation will help them visualize and let their worries go, one at a time.
With this meditation, your kid can picture a night sky filled with shooting stars on a comfortable camping trip.
Your kid can enjoy whimsy and in this rhyming adventure with one tired koala who can’t catch shut-eye.
At times, you don’t want to focus on anything at all, be it your own body or a sleep story. In those cases, there’s soft, easy music that whisks you to dreamland.
Listen to relaxing dulcet tones composed on a keyboard and a computer.
A melodic piano lulls you to sleep over a background of running water.
When you listen with headphones, the sounds’ frequencies delivered to each ear are slightly different. Some research suggests these mismatched sounds help prime your brain for sleep and relaxation.