Do you remember any sleepless nights where even counting sheep didn’t work anymore? People who suffer from insomnia experience difficulties with falling and staying asleep for months on end. With serious health risks and difficulties as a consequence (Gross et al., 2011). Traditional treatment for insomnia is based on pharmacotherapy. But most types of medication also come with a wide range of side effects such as drowsiness or headaches.
Therefore, Gross et al. (2011) investigated a less invasive way to treat patients with insomnia using mindfulness or mindfulness-based stress reduction (or MBSR) to be exact. These mindfulness exercises aim towards exposing and acknowledging the participant’s positive and negative thoughts and to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or future. MBSR is used to reduce cycles of rumination in order to fall asleep more easily.
In a randomized controlled trial, Gross et al. (2011) recruited 30 patients diagnosed with chronic insomnia. A group of 20 patients practiced 45 min of mindfulness daily. The MBSR included mindfulness exercises like the body scan, guided meditation, and some yoga exercises. The other group of patients tried a more traditional nightly pharmacotherapy using eszopiclone. And as it turned out patients who did the daily mindfulness exercises reported longer sleeping times and they needed less time to fall asleep (Gross et al., 2011). Similar findings were reported in the eszopiclone group. Next time something is keeping you up at night? No need for pills, MBSR exercises seem to have the same effect!
Gross, C. R., Kreitzer, M. J., Reilly-Spong, M., Wall, M., Winbush, N. Y., Patterson, R., Mahowald, M., & Cramer-Bornemann, M. (2011). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Versus Pharmacotherapy for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. EXPLORE, 7(2), 76–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2010.12.003