Getting a good night’s sleep

couple sleepingMindfulness meditation has been shown to have many beneficial effects on health and wellbeing, and studies reveal that sleep disturbance, or insomnia, is another area in which a mindfulness-based approach seems particularly effective.

Sleep disturbance is a common problem, with around 10–15% of the adult population suffering from insomnia and many more reporting symptoms for a few nights a week or more during the past year.

Respond or react?

Mindfulness-based treatment for insomnia reduces unwanted wakefulness at night and manages the emotional reactions to sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue more effectively. Participants are taught to respond to sleep disturbance with mindfulness skills rather than react, habitually, with increasing effort.

Individuals who suffer from chronic insomnia will often describe their condition as a ‘vicious cycle’ with increasing effort and desire put into trying to regain sleep. Ong and Sholtes

The principles and practices of mindfulness meditation allow for sleep to unfold rather than increasing effort to clear the mind or trying harder to make sleep happen. This approach is likely to be be more acceptable to those who are looking for non-pharmacological treatments for insomnia.

Promising results

Preliminary studies have yielded promising results. In a pilot study involving 30 participants, half experienced a 50% or greater reduction in total wake time and all but two scored below the cutoff for clinically significant insomnia.

Follow-up data revealed that 61% of participants had no relapse of insomnia during the 12 months following treatment, supporting the long-term benefits of this treatment.


A mindfulness-based approach to the treatment of insomnia by Jason Ong and David Sholtes. Published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, November 2010.

For mindfulness classes and courses in your area see the Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and Wirral pages for details.

6 comments… add one
  • I have severe insomnia, one that has been controlled by sleeping tablets for 2 years. Trying to come off tablets but having a horrendous time. I can’t get to sleep, tried everything, know all there is about ‘sleep hygiene’ and the best things to trying to achieve a good nights sleep but to no avail. I’ve had two 6 week sessions of CBT. Would a course like this help me? My GP has no real answers to treating insomnia, like most people I speak to and websites I visit.

    • Hi Karen, I’m sorry to hear about the insomnia you’re experiencing. It must be awful for you. Mindfulness certainly can, and does, help people sleep better although chronic conditions can be deep-rooted and need more treatment.

      I notice you’ve reserved a place on one of the courses so we’ll see if you find it helpful and I’ll give you as much support as I can.

  • Hi. Would your mindfulness course help with insomnia or is it a special program? Thanks

    • Hi Jenni, thanks for your question. The article refers to specific research into the effectiveness of mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBT-I) and the development of a programme by the authors. However, any mindfulness training and practice – such as our mindfulness course – would help, although severe and prolonged cases should always be referred to a GP.

    • For me, the mindfulness course really helped. I hadn’t slept well for years but doing the course made a big difference to my peace of mind and helped me sleep better aswell.

      • Thanks Sam. Glad you found the course helpful and are sleeping better ;-)


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