Psychology Today: A sleep expert explains why meditating yourself to sleep doesn’t work.

The problem with using meditation as a sleep aid comes down to one word: effort. “One of the biggest issues with insomnia is that people are trying really hard to sleep,” clinical psychologist Dr. Jason Ong told me recently on the Think Act Be podcast. Ong is an expert in treating sleep problems, and the creator of Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia.

In most areas of our lives, “we try harder to solve problems,” said Ong, which is usually a good thing. But that approach backfires when we’re struggling with insomnia. “Sleep is one thing that the harder you try, the worse it gets,” he told me. I know from personal experience that he’s right, having been through years of consistently poor sleep.

A big part of the problem, according to Ong, is that using more effort to fall asleep can lead to performance anxiety, as we see sleep as our final “task” for the day. If we’re trying to use meditation to knock ourselves out, we make it just another thing to do to ensure good sleep. But effort and doing are incompatible with sleep.

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