- Sleep meditation may help you fall asleep more quickly.
- For example, if you’re having difficulty calming your mind when you try to sleep, meditation can be a useful strategy to wind down and relax yourself for a more restful sleep.
- In addition, some research has suggested that a daily meditation practice, at any time throughout the day, may contribute to better sleep.
- This article was medically reviewed by Zlatin Ivanov, MD, who is certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology at Psychiatrist NYC.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide on How to Meditate.
Have you ever felt yourself tossing and turning all night, unable to relax your mind and finally fall asleep? Meditation might be able to help.
Whether you meditate right before bed, or use it as a daily practice every morning, the benefits can include lower levels of stress, a calmer mind, and improved quality of sleep.
Here’s how to use meditation specifically to resolve your sleep troubles and end those sleepless nights.
How to practice sleep meditation before bed
If you can’t fall asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night, a quick meditation may help you reset and prepare for sleep.
First, turn the lights off and find a comfortable position. It may be best to lie down on your bed, since you are meditating with the intention of falling asleep.
You can choose whether or not you would like to dim the lights, or turn them off completely. Feel free to do whatever works best for your body, and helps you to feel most relaxed and ready for sleep.
Then once you are settled, take a few deep breaths at your own pace, feeling your body sink further into the bed with each exhale. Feel any worries fade into the background as you breathe out.
You may also want to try one of the following practices:
1. If you would like to encourage further relaxation, or if you suffer from chronic pain that impacts your ability to fall asleep, start with a body scan meditation by noticing how your head feels.
2. Breathe in, and as you exhale, feel your head relax, and the energy of a long day drain out. Do the same with your neck, shoulders, chest, and so on, until you have slowly traced down the entire body, relaxing each part.
1. Start with a simple mindfulness technique, focusing on your inhale and exhale as you take a few deep breaths.
2. While continuing your deep breathing, think of three parts of your day that you feel grateful for. Maybe it’s a conversation you had with a loved one, or a task you finally completed. This can help encourage compassionate thoughts before you fall asleep — just make sure your thoughts of gratitude don’t turn into worry or regret.
If you feel like you’re beginning to nod off during these meditations, you can let go and fall asleep. But if meditating still isn’t working, try reading a book or journaling, both of which can help you redirect your thoughts and encourage a more positive mindset so you are not as likely to be kept up by anxious thoughts.
Try not to reach for your phone or watch TV. The blue light from screens impacts natural circadian rhythms, decreasing the secretion of melatonin in the body, which can prevent us from falling asleep easily.
If you’re using a guided meditation app on your phone, that’s okay — just try to listen to the audio without looking at the screen too much.
Daily meditation may help you get better sleep
Some research has found that daily meditation can improve sleep quality and duration, no matter the time of day you choose to meditate.
That’s partially because meditation can decrease levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Sleep troubles, or insomnia, are often caused by these mental health factors, so it’s no surprise that a daily meditation practice is one of the most effective natural treatments for insomnia.
For example, a 2015 study found that meditation was a helpful technique for treating insomnia. One group of participants was educated in basic sleep hygiene practices, while the other group practiced meditation as part of a mindfulness program.
During the six week period, the mindfulness participants were asked to meditate for at least five minutes daily. The study found that the meditating participants, who also joined a two-hour mindfulness education support group once a week, had improved quality of sleep, lower levels of fatigue, and an improved mood after the study.
It might be helpful to try meditating right before bed, especially if you suffer from insomnia or stress-related sleep problems. Meditation reduces amygdala reactivity, which is the part of the brain associated with your stress response.
An overactive amygdala leads to increased production of cortisol, or the stress hormone. A 2015 study on the interactions between sleep and stress found that higher levels of cortisol the preceding evening led to more awakenings the following night.
Meditation may not be an instant fix to your sleep troubles — but over time, it may help you fall asleep faster and get higher quality sleep by reducing cortisol levels and amygdala reactivity.
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