Millions of people find it difficult to get to sleep or get enough sleep each night.
Meditation has the power to help.
Learning to meditate before bed can help you get to sleep faster, get more hours of sleep, and stay asleep consistently throughout the night.
Sleep deprivation is a serious issue in the United States, with 70 percent of adults admitting that they have at least one night of insufficient sleep each month, and 11 percent of adults getting insufficient sleep on a nightly basis.
Most of us have experienced light sleep deprivation in the past. We’ve woken up fatigued after going to bed too late, or dealt with interruptions throughout the night like fireworks going off or the noises of traffic. In isolation, this isn’t much of a problem, but chronic sleep deprivation can be deadly.
In the short-term, sleep deprivation is shown to negatively impact your memory, your cognitive functioning, and your mood; people who are sleep deprived have trouble thinking and suffer from reduced productivity. They also tend to be more irritable and experience more stress.
In the long-term, sleep deprivation can have even worse effects. You’ll be more susceptible to a number of conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. You’ll experience more severe symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue. And you’ll even be at higher risk of catching a contagious illness.
Meditation isn’t a perfect cure-all, but it can significantly help.
Meditation is a set of practices designed to help you achieve an emotionally stable and mentally clear state of mind. There are many different disciplines of meditation, and many different techniques that can be used, so it’s difficult to precisely nail down.
Most forms of meditation encourage you to focus your attention on something, like your breath or a physical object. Some use physical practices like relaxing your muscles. No matter what, you’ll use these practices to clear your mind and get to a better state of mind.
So how can meditation help you get more consistent sleep?
There are several interesting positive effects to note:
Improving circadian rhythms. Studies show that meditation can serve a regulatory role in improving sleep. Circadian rhythms function as a kind of internal clock; they help us regulate feelings like wakefulness and tiredness, and help us sleep consistently. This is why it’s important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. It’s a way of training your circadian rhythms to function healthily. Meditation can improve your circadian rhythms directly because it encourages you to partake in a consistent habit. If you do it at the same time every night, right before bed, you’ll find it much easier to get to sleep.
Resolving persistent thoughts. Some people struggle with insomnia because of persistent thoughts. They find it difficult to turn their brain “off” and relax enough to get to sleep. Meditation is the perfect solution to this problem. With meditation, you can learn to let go of these racing thoughts and get to a neutral state of mind. This may be difficult to achieve at first, but as you get more practice, it will become easier.
Relieving anxiety. Research consistently demonstrates that meditation can help you soothe anxiety. Many people who struggle with sleep have issues because of persistent worries. Meditating regularly will calm your fears in the moment, and over the long term, will reduce the general anxiety you feel.
Physically relaxing. Most meditation practices involve some element of physical relaxation. To meditate, you’ll need to find a comfortable position, whether it’s seated or lying down. You’ll often use a combination of deep breathing and muscle relaxation to ease the physical tension
in your body. This can lower your blood pressure, and get you in a position to drift off to sleep.
Getting comfortable. As stated, meditation requires you to get comfortable. While there are some meditation practices that require you to be in
a specific position, most can be practiced no matter what. That means you can lie down in your bed, in whatever position is comfortable for you, and meditate—then be in the perfect position to begin sleeping.
Reducing stress. Stress can complicate your efforts to sleep, especially if you’re dealing with chronic stress from work or personal relationships. Meditation will allow you to relieve stress at the end of your day, at least temporarily. If you practice consistently, you’ll also develop heightened emotional awareness and control, which can help you manage stress on a day-to-day basis.
Releasing melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that is practically vital to feel tired and fall asleep, and studies show that meditation has the power to stimulate it. Your body naturally produces melatonin in certain circumstances, like when your surroundings get dark. There are even melatonin supplements you can take. But one of the most reliable ways to stimulate melatonin production is through meditation.
Promoting healthy habits. Research consistently demonstrates that meditation can help you soothe anxiety. Many people who struggle with sleep have issues because of persistent worries. Meditating regularly will calm your fears in the moment, and over the long term, will reduce the general anxiety you feel.Though it’s a secondary benefit, the consistent use of meditation can help you kick bad habits and establish new, healthy habits. For example, meditation is demonstrated to be useful in helping nicotine-addicted people stop smoking cigarettes. There are many bad habits that can make it more difficult to get to sleep, such as drinking too much coffee, smoking cigarettes, or living a sedentary lifestyle. With meditation, you can gain more self-control and personal drive, adjusting your life to support better habits. Sleep comes naturally from there.
Avoiding digital screens. Research suggests that the prolonged use of digital screens before bed can make it harder to fall asleep—and may disrupt your sleep throughout the night. If you’re busy meditating, you won’t be tempted to watch TV or play games on a tablet.
As implied before, there are many different types of meditation worth considering. For example, with mindfulness meditation, you’ll work on focusing your attention on the present moment, and letting go of distracting thoughts. With transcendental meditation, you’ll use a mantra, repeated over and over again, to reach a desired state of mind.
Each type of meditation offers some benefits and drawbacks, but nearly all types of meditation have the power to help you get to sleep and stay asleep at night. Accordingly, you should work to find the style of meditation you personally prefer; if you like a particular system of meditation,
you’ll be much more inclined to follow it.
Meditation can also be guided or unguided. With unguided meditation, you’ll be left on your own to manage your solitary practice.
This is challenging for newcomers because you’ll be inexperienced and susceptible to distraction. With guided meditation, you’ll have the benefit
of an external voice (usually a teacher or a guru) guiding you through the meditation practice.
Obviously, if you’re getting ready for bed, you won’t be able to work with a teacher in person. But you can use a guided meditation app like
Aura to gain the benefits of guided meditation. Get started with Aura today and see how it works for yourself!
If you’re interested in getting the most out of your pre-sleep meditation practices, these tips can help:
Try a guided meditation app. Guided meditation is the best way to get started with meditation, since you’ll have the benefit of an experienced teacher. Use a guided meditation app like Aura to get started.
Pick the right style for you. Different meditation styles appeal to different types of people. You’ll be much more consistent if you choose a style you genuinely like. Experiment to figure out what works best.
Be as consistent as possible. The best benefits of meditation set in when you practice consistently—that means every night.
Use short sessions at first. Don’t overburden yourself; start by meditating in short sessions, even if they’re only a few minutes long. You can work your way up to longer sessions eventually.
Set the scene. Make yourself comfortable. For some people, that means sitting on a pillow. For others, that means lying on your side. You can also create an ambiance with gentle music, scented candles, or other touches.
Meditation is incredibly valuable for getting better sleep. However, it’s not the perfect solution for every person or every sleep-related issue.
You may also need to address:
Sleeping environment. An unsupportive mattress or an environment rife with loud noises or bright lights can still make it difficult to sleep,
even if you’re meditating
Physical needs. Certain conditions, like sleep apnea, may make sleep more of a physical issue than a mental one.
Talk to your doctor if this is the case.
Mental and emotional needs. While meditation can help you manage certain mental and emotional afflictions, it can’t cure severe mental illnesses on its own. Talking to a therapist can help you even further in this dimension.
Are you interested in exploring guided meditation on your own, and experiencing the benefits in your own life? Get started with Aura, #1 Meditation and Sleep app for iOS or for Android today, and get started with your first session. Even short sessions of 15 minutes or less can improve your feelings of wellness, so give it a try today!