Meditation is an age-old practice that originated in the Far East and only came to the Western world in the 1700s. Slowly, it gained footing as more and more people understood the inherent benefits of it.
In 1955, the first scientific study on meditation was conducted using EEGs, and since then, many more have taken place. Modern researchers have confirmed what meditation-practitioners have known for centuries: Meditation has a slew of benefits.
Scientifically-backed benefits of meditation include reduction of stress, easing of anxiety, pain control, improvement in cardiovascular health and help falling asleep. Depending on the result you want to achieve, there are different types of meditation you can choose.
For people who need help falling asleep, mindfulness meditation is often recommended. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing on breathing and awareness of the present moment, which helps break the train of everyday thoughts and invokes relaxation. Of course, if there are other types of meditation that you feel more comfortable with, no one will tell you it's not allowed. When it comes to meditation, you get to choose what feels right for you.
If you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, here are 5 of the best meditation apps that can help you.
1. Simple Habit - Simple Habit offers sleep and wellness programs, bedtime stories, coaching and motivational guides. In addition to improved sleep, users have also experienced reduced stress and anxiety, improved focus, increased self-awareness and many more benefits. You can basically personalize it to suit your goals and lifestyle, with meditation sessions starting at just 5 minutes. There are plenty of sleep-related free programs, but with the Premium account, there are even more.
2. Headspace - Headspace is designed to make meditation as easy and accessible as possible. It offers a free beginner's guide that initiates users into the ways of meditation and mindfulness and lays the foundation for building your meditation practice. Headspace has four specific offerings for sleep:
Sleepcasts - Storytelling in soothing voices
Wind Downs - Meditation and breathing to prepare the mind and body for sleep
Nightime SOS - Guidance for waking up in the middle of the night
Sleep music - DIfferent calming tracks to help you drift off to sleep
3. Ten Percent Happier - After experiencing a panic attack on live television in 2004, news anchor Dan Harris knew he needed to help. He found meditation. In 2014, he wrote the book Ten Percent Happier and later launched an app and podcast. The entire Ten Percent Happier franchise is designed to help people achieve inner calm and enjoy life more.
In the Ten Percent Happier app, users can find 500+ guided meditations and a specific section for sleep that includes relaxing meditations. Teachers include leaders in the field of meditation like Anushka Fernandopulle, Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. The only downside is that the features in the app tend to be pricey.
4. Calm - Calm is designed for people who want to achieve better sleep through meditation. The app features over 100 Sleep Stories, with new options every week. Stories include classic literature, scientific articles, children's tales, nature essays and more. There is also a collection of Sleep Music and white noise, a lot of which can be accessed for free. Meditation at Calm is mainly based on mindfulness principles, though certain sessions do introduce specific practices like Vipassana and Loving-Kindness.
5. Insight Timer - With over 25,000 guided meditation, Insight Timer offers one of the most comprehensive meditation libraries on the market. You can choose meditations based on type, goal and the amount of time it takes. For sleep, you can choose from thousands of music tracks and ambient sounds, all designed to achieve calmness, relaxation and better sleep.
The meditation practices at Insight Timer are not limited to mindfulness. There are many types of practices available, including Insight Meditation, Zen, Vipassana, Breathing Meditation, Kundalini Yoga, Advaita Vedanta and more. While the meditation sessions are free, there are in-app purchases available to enhance the overall user experience.

The Many Benefits of Sleep

It's no secret that getting enough sleep every night is the key to multiple health benefits. Using a meditation app to get a good night's sleep is a terrific way to be proactive about achieving the health and lifestyle goals you set for yourself.
Reaching your optimal health goals is one way to rank high on the Quality of Life Index. When you are able to improve your QL score, you may open the door to better living and potentially create savings in life insurance premiums.
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