Using the Mantra for Sleep

They say that when you meditate regularly, your body needs less sleep.

I’ve never meditated regularly enough to know if this is true. I do know that when I was growing up, sleep was akin to laziness.  Oversleeping, I was taught, is wasteful and decadent. We were instructed to never go back to sleep once awakened.

If you happened to be awakened in the middle of the night, you were to get up and start doing something.

I always had a lot of trouble with that one. The few times I tried to get up at 2:00 in the morning because something woke me up, I couldn’t find anything productive to do at that hour and I was nodding off and exhausted while trying.

Science has had a few things to say about this cutting back on sleep thing. It turns out that it is NOT empty time. Our bodies and minds really need sleep in order to repair. We need more of it when we are kids, a lot as teenagers, and less and less as we age. But it was during my teenage years that I got the least amount, of course.  Lack of sleep hurts our ability to think and it can cause weight gain.

The teaching did cause me to develop a huge difficulty going back to sleep once awakened and I’m a very light sleeper.

I’ve never in all my life used a snooze alarm. Once I wake up in the morning (as long as it’s not the middle of the night, like say any time after 5:30 am or so), I am immediately fully awake and cannot go back to sleep. Usually that’s because my brain kicks in right away and starts thinking about everything that I should do that day.

For a while Brad was getting up for work before me and his alarm would wake me up, but then he’d hit the snooze alarm. Drove me totally nuts. I did not appreciate being awakened so early!

I haven’t found it very pleasant to be the kind of person who cannot go back to sleep. Particularly now that I’ve been waking up early every morning to take my basal body temperature in anticipation of starting to try for children. I want to be able to go back to sleep after I take my temperature!

One of the tutors I had growing up said we should never use the mantra when trying to fall asleep because it “has its own energy.”

But I started doing it anyway and it’s been really working. I figured it might, since I always found it supremely difficult to stay awake during dawn meditation at SES!

I wouldn’t consider this to be meditation at all, but I repeat the mantra silently in order to lull my brain back into a peaceful state instead of letting it race from thought to thought, waking itself up more and more.

I’ve been much more successful at going back to sleep in the mornings when I want to by using my mantra in this way. Along with that I’ve also worked on not judging myself for sleeping too much. I’m a very productive person, so if my body and mind need some extra sleep, I’m going to let them have it.

What do you think about using a mantra as a sleep aid?

***

On a separate note, we were at the gym the other day and saw someone wearing a shirt that said “Ram Nation.” I think it’s meant to be a car advertisement (or maybe a sport’s team?), but of course I thought of Rama!

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Naina Marbus

    There is nothing wrong with using a mantra as a sleep aid. In fact I used the same strategy all the time. In any case, if it works for you, without interfering on account of “has its own energy,” that is what counts. A mantra for accomplishing any specific objective differs from person to person. That is why gurus, when approached for a mantra, often do not prescribe the same mantra for everyone. The only mantra that is universal is OM, though even that needs to be learnt from a guru.

    • Ambaa

      You know, it’s interesting, but I’m certain that the guru for our school did not give us this mantra for sleep! lol. The whole school did receive the same mantra (though we were, of course, initiated separately in a ceremony when we were deemed ready to receive it) and it was meant to be an energizing mantra. But, as you said, if it relaxes me into sleep then so be it!


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