External pressures and added stresses from work, family, and other stresses can make it difficult for adults to get restful sleep at night.
What is Sleep Meditation?
35 to 50 percent of adults have difficulty falling asleep at night, which continues to grow. However, sleep meditation offers an accessible solution.
Incorporating meditation into one’s bedtime routine helps one fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and achieve deep sleep. Meditating before bed may be for you if you constantly wake up at night or never feel well-rested. It reduces anxiety, depression, and pain which often keeps individuals awake.
It offers the opportunity to destress and let go of any worry. Whether you are an experienced mindfulness practitioner or a beginner, there are exercises suitable for all people. Continue reading to learn about the different sleep meditations available to improve sleep.
How does Meditation Work to Improve Sleep?
Meditation creates psychological changes that support relaxation in the mind and body. Getting a good sleep combats fatigue felt during the day. Sleep problems often result from stress and worry. Practicing mindfulness to calm the mind helps fight insomnia and other sleep disorders. One study of people with insomnia reported a reduction in the time spent lying awake in bed.
Meditation practice before sleep creates physical changes in the body that prepare one for rest and relaxation. Physiology includes but is not limited to decreasing blood pressure, increasing serotonin (forerunner of melatonin), slowing the heart rate, and increasing melatonin (sleep hormone). These changes are the same as the ones that come to prepare the body before sleep.
Preparing for Sleep Meditation
Ensure that you are prepared for bed and ready for sleep before you begin meditating. Be ready to leave your phone until morning. Meditation before bedtime helps people create strong evening habits. Try to develop personalized rituals to support your sleep further. Explore what works for you. This may include having a cup of tea an hour before bed or reading a book. Here are four recommendations to relax and prepare for meditation:
Only begin meditating when you are ready for bed. Prepare your pillows, blankets, and body to your liking before you start meditating.
Create a calm and comfortable space with silence in preparation, removing all distractions.
Lye down where you intend on sleeping
Focus on the breath and release any tension you are holding.
Guided Sleep Meditations
Guided meditations are ideal for beginners and require minimal effort. They involve a recorded voice of another person guiding you through the different phases of meditation. Guided sleep meditations are perfect for beginners, and the process involves minimal effort, making them ideal for bedtime. You can access free recordings and videos using YouTube, meditation apps from the app store, and podcasts. Jason Stephenson is a famous producer of guided sleep meditations on Spotify, offering free audio affirmations and healing music.
Mindfulness meditation helps prepare the brain for sleep and supports sleep quality. Several studies show that mindfulness exercise effectively treats people who suffer from sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Here are five simple steps to meditating mindfully:
Bring your awareness to your consciousness, breath, and body.
Inhale for ten counts, hold your breath for ten counts, and exhale for ten counts (repeat several times).
Sink deeper into the mattress with each exhale, relaxing even further.
As your mind wanders, notice thoughts arise and let them go.
You will slowly drift asleep.
Body Scan Meditation
Body scan meditation can be done independently or using a guided meditation recording. The exercise allows the body to relax and the mind to settle, supporting a whole night’s rest. Here are six simple steps to body scan meditation:
Lay down in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and slow your breathing, focusing on the moment.
Bring your attention to your toes.
Notice as any sensations arise and breathe through them.
When ready, continue to work your way up the body, spending several seconds on each body part.
If preferred, you can begin at the crown of your head and work your way down.
Benefits of Sleep Meditation
Sleep meditation positively affects the self and improves overall well-being. In addition to improving your sleep, sleep meditation has a variety of benefits, including:
Many people who practice meditation feel like falling asleep by the end of their meditation session anyway, so this makes it a great practice to induce sleep.
Start with the outlined meditation practice listed above to meditate yourself to sleep. You might also speak to your meditation instructor about using meditation specifically to improve your sleep. Even a short 25-minute session can make all the difference.
Additionally, practicing yoga nidra, which puts your consciousness right on the precipice of sleep, is another good option.
Will meditation help me sleep?
Yes! Meditation is an excellent way to help yourself get to sleep and stay asleep. It calms the mind and enables you to focus on the present moment instead of promoting rumination about the future or the past. Meditation provided by our in-home meditation coaches also encourages melatonin production, a hormone produced right before sleep that supports sleep in general.
Is it wrong to meditate at night?
No. Meditation in the evening or before falling asleep is an excellent time of day for practice. If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep, Meditation can be beneficial.
At the same time, if you are using Meditation during the day, you don't want to always fall asleep at the end of each session. In this way, it's essential to carry on with your daily meditation practice, continuing to exit each session with a smooth transition into your regular daily tasks.
How long should I meditate before bed?
If you attempt to fall asleep by the end of your meditation session before bed, you simply need to meditate for as long as it takes. In general, this will be anywhere from five to 15 minutes. For some people, it may be longer.
Additionally, at the very beginning of your meditation practice, keep in mind that you may find it takes longer to fall asleep. This is okay. Keep trying and continue with your nightly meditation practice in bed. After a while, you will condition your mind and body to induce sleep by the end of your meditation session.
Learn how to meditate for better sleep with an Anahana meditation coach
Most people don’t get enough sleep, but some unlucky individuals struggle profoundly every evening. Whatever your unique challenges with rest, learning meditation practice and participating in it regularly can help immensely.
At Anahana, we have highly-skilled and experienced meditation instructors ready and willing to help you combat your sleep challenges. Go about your meditation practice in whatever way works best for you. We offer in-home meditation, live stream meditation, and on-demand courses uniquely catered to you. There’s even special instruction available for pregnant women and new moms, seniors, and athletes.
Please note that this article is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor.
Slomski, A. (2015). Meditation promotes better sleep in older adults. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(16), 1609-1609. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.2943
Rusch, H. L., Rosario, M., Levison, L. M., Livingston, W. S., Wu, T., & Gill, J. M. (2019). The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1445(1), 5-16. doi:10.1111/nyas.13996