How to Meditate Before Bed: Meditations to Fall Asleep FasterHow to Meditate Before Bed: Meditations to Fall Asleep Faster

Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night? If so, you're not alone. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, approximately "50% of persons 55 years and older have some form of sleep problem, including initiating and maintaining sleep." People who struggle to get to fall asleep or stay asleep know how frustrating it can be.

The good news is that meditation could be a lasting solution, and there are a variety of possible meditations including:

  • Body scan meditations
  • Mindfulness meditations
  • Guided visualizations
  • Mind-body meditation practices
  • Meditative music
  • Hypnosis 
  • Affirmation sleep meditations
  • Meditative nighttime rituals
  • Breath meditations

Finding the right technique is vital. As an avid meditator, I began by trying to focus on my breathing in the hopes that it alone would help me sleep during stressful times when I found myself awake and caught in thought loops. Sometimes the method worked and sometimes not. After trying a variety of different methods of breathing, I found what works for me.

Before we examine a few tips, tricks, and techniques to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, let's look at the way meditation works. 

When exploring the connection between quality sleep and regular meditation, science proves that not only can meditation help you to fall asleep, but it can also help you to find deeper sleep. According to a study in 2015, mindfulness meditation in particular has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults. 

Guided Meditations for Sleep

So what is a step-by-step guide to developing a personal sleep meditation routine? And how to know what kind of meditation will work best for you? 

Let's look at a few specific sleep meditations that can help you. The varied types of guided meditation techniques optimal for inducing sleep often begin with a soothing guided voice, but the practice is about more than that. It is also about putting you in the right state of mind to be receptive to sleep. Many meditations use a background of healing music or biaural beats to augment their effects on sleep. According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, music can support overall sleep quality by supporting many body systems: "Current scientific research has proved [music's] modifying influence on vegetative, circulatory, respiratory and endocrine systems." 

Meditation and meditative music work because it invites the busy mind to focus. And even if recurring thoughts are still there, attempting to meditate puts us in a receptive frame of mind. Let's first examine a few mind-body exercises.

Mind-body Practices for Sleep

  • Body awareness is one way to find deep sleep by imagining your body sinking into the bed or softening with each breath. The role of breath control in meditation for sleep is perhaps one of the most impactful exercises.
  • The right breath practice at bedtime can work wonders for sleep! According to yogic traditions, by extending our exhales we trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us physiologically to relax. One specific breath practice to try is to inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. According to Medical News Today, this 4-7-8 Breath Technique is so beneficial that some users claim it helps them fall asleep in less than a minute. 
  • Another mind-body technique is to block the right nostril and breathe in and out slowly through the left. While alternate nostril breathing is said to bring balance during the day, left nostril breathing supports a calmer state of mind, brings you into the present moment, and brings a restful state.

Guided Meditations for Sleep

Guided meditation is an accessible way to get sleep support. It's advantageous for beginners especially because there's nothing to do but listen. Many guided meditation resources for sleep, such as apps, videos, and books provide in-depth instruction. Incorporating guided meditation into a nightly routine means finding a meditation you enjoy - consider the tone of voice of a meditation teacher as well as the length and whether or not there is music in the background.

Focusing on visualizations, such as a soothing pink light surrounding the body, is another technique that focuses the mind and provides the mind with relaxation. By picturing yourself surrounded by light or in a place of comfort, your body and mind begin to feel comfort, which leads to the deepest sleep meditation.

Night-Time Meditation

Night-time meditation can influence sleep quality and dream patterns, and research has shown that meditation can even increase rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, which signifies a deep state of rest. What works best for you at night is what is important. 

Set up a calming and relaxing night-time environment that is conducive to meditation. This means ensuring you are comfortable and your room is not too warm. Take time to find your most comfortable position before settling into your sleep meditation for maximum effect.

Settle your body in a comfortable position and give yourself time to unwind. It doesn't have to happen right away, and if you feel restless, a body scan meditation can be a great way to get into mind-body harmony. This is accomplished by focusing on your toes and working your way up, consciously softening each body part as you go. You can also find a guided meditation to walk you through this, or begin to focus on your breath and simply repeat the word "relax."

Finding the Right Meditation for Deep Sleep

The role of meditation in reaching the deep sleep (REM) stage is clear, but there is no one way to get there. If one technique does not work for you at first, try another. Studies showing the impact of meditation on sleep cycles and insomnia are clear. The possible benefits of deep sleep meditation for individuals include reduced stress, reduced anxiety, more alertness, and a clearer mind during the day.

So while night-time meditation techniques such as body scan meditations, sleep hypnosis, and mindfulness vary in technique, they are all poised to offer benefits. Experiment with what works best for you. Keep a journal to record your progress. And remember that there are many resources out there to support you on your sleep journey.

Meditation apps are wonderful resources. At Aura, 97% of users experienced better sleep in just three days. The range of meditations for sleep includes guided visualizations, regular night-time meditation rituals, breathing practices, body scans, and certain meditative music tracks - all of which contribute to stress reduction and increased feelings of well-being by offering a soothing background, while also helping you relax the body and mind.  

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July 8, 2024
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