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Meditation reduces stress, counteracts insomnia and increases brain gray matter

Meditation reduces stress, counteracts insomnia and increases brain gray matter

July 02, 2022
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Now science says it too, meditation helps to counteract stress and improve our well-being and our cognitive functionality. This has been scientifically proven, as evidenced by the work published a few months ago in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine by a German team (Puhlmann et al, Psychosomatic Medicine, 2021).

Meditation reduces stress, here is the proof

Stress, especially if continued for long periods, is a condition that can undermine not only our mental health, increasing the risk of depression, but also our physical health, paving the way at diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Since it is practically impossible to eliminate all forms of stress from our lives, it is important to find a way to be able to cope with these situations. Meditation is one of these ways, simple and without side effects. To prove the effectiveness of meditation in countering anxiety and stress, German scientists have developed the study we are talking about today. The research was performed on 240 people and lasted 9 months, during which three-month packages of various meditation techniques were proposed, which could be mindfulness techniques to bring attention to the here and now, but also the exercise of gratitude and compassion. The volunteers were divided into three groups and each group was subjected to three meditation techniques, lasting three months each, in random order. During and at the end of the experiment, the scientists analyzed the cortisol levels present in the hair of the volunteers. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in times of great stress with the aim of putting the body and mind in watchful waiting, mobilizing all energy and overcoming danger. The longer the stressful situation lasts, the longer high amounts of cortisol will be in circulation and the greater the amount of cortisol that will accumulate in the hair. Well, the scientists observed that after 6 months of meditation, regardless of the technique used, the cortisol levels in the volunteers' hair dropped significantly, on average by 25%, and then remained low for the next three months. Therefore, meditation works by reducing stress, but, for the first beneficial effects to be seen, it is necessary to wait a few months. In addition, each type of meditation has shown important anti-stress properties and therefore it is possible to choose the approach we prefer.

Meditation, other benefits

Meditation also helps against insomnia. Indeed, it has been shown that practicing meditation techniques during the day, thus increasing the degree of daytime relaxation, has benefits with regard to night rest (Gourineni et al, 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 9 June 2009). The volunteers observed a reduction in the time to fall asleep and an increase in the time spent in bed while asleep. Not only that, even sleep was more restorative. And that's not all. Even just 20-minute sessions a day of meditation led, in just 4 days, to improve cognitive function, reflexes and information processing, even in stressful situations (Zeidan et al, Consciousness and Cognition, 2010). Then, it was possible to demonstrate that the constant practice of meditation has made it possible to increase the thickness of the cerebral gray matter, counteracting the typical thinning of the frontal cortex linked to aging (Lazar et al, NeuroReport, 2005).

Meditation also in the Natural Remedies app

So it's worth saying, meditate to stay healthy! And from today the Natural Remedies app helps you in this too, thanks to the new section dedicated to Meditation. You can access the new section from the main page by clicking on Healthy Life and then selecting Meditation from the list of icons under the image gallery. Here you can find small meditation sessions waiting for you, to be practiced during the day, or in the evening before going to sleep. A voice will guide you in this practice. You can choose the meditation that best suits you, the emergency remedy in case of acute stress, or the evening relaxation or even the technique to calm down and sleep better. When you want it most, now you know that there is a meditation in the app that can help you.

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