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Meditations for Sleep

by BetterSleep
Aug 13 • 5 min read
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It’s the middle of the night, and you’ve been tossing and turning for what feels like hours. You check your clock (for the fifth time) and start thinking about how many hours of sleep you’ll be able to squeeze in if you fell asleep in the next ten minutes. But regardless of how many sheep you count, you just can’t seem to quiet your mind. Long story short, your restful night is out the window as you stay awake for hours. Sound familiar? According to the CDC, 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep.

Maybe you’ve tried one of the thousands of sleep-promoting gadgets on the market, but you’re still having trouble falling asleep. And as great as sleepy time tea and essential oils may be, there’s a straightforward technique we’re quick to forget about that has been working for centuries, meditation.

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, but it’s only recently that people have genuinely started to realize the fantastic mental and physical health benefits that come with this ancient practice. And while it may have a reputation as something reserved for yoga-loving tree huggers, don’t be scared off. The science speaks for itself.

Keep reading to learn about how you can use meditation to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being!

What is meditation?

We hear about it all the time, but what is meditation? Simply put, meditation is an ancient practice used to help you develop an awareness of the present moment.

This includes focusing on your breath and the sensations and sounds of the world around you. When you’re in a meditative state, you’re not worrying about future or past problems; instead, you’re focusing on what is happening here and now around you.

There’s a reason meditation has been getting so popular. Meditation has an extensive list of physical and mental health benefits; here are some common ones.

How meditation helps you sleep

Focusing on your breath is much more powerful than you may think. In an article in Prevention, Jason Ong, Ph.D., explains that people with sleep problems are usually so determined to make sleep happen that they ironically make it less likely to happen. This pressure to sleep can activate your fight or flight response, which makes you alert and on-guard (not exactly the calming state you want to be in at bedtime).

Meditation actually has the ability to change your physiology by improving your relaxation response. Here are some other benefits of meditation for sleep from Healthline.

  • Increases serotonin and melatonin
  • Reduce heart rate
  • Improves control of the automatic nervous system

What is the best kind of meditation for sleep?

We’d love to say that there was one guaranteed meditation you can do to get to bed - but we’re all different. What works for some people may not work for others. That’s why it’s important to try out a variety of different meditations for sleep to find which one works best for you.

Here are some everyday sleep meditations you can try to get a more restful sleep.

Guided sleep meditation

Guided sleep meditations are perfect for people who have difficulty focusing or quieting the chatter in their brain (been there). They are a form of mindfulness meditation, which we’ll cover later.

Guided meditations are often narrated/led by an instructor who guides you through breathing exercises and/or visualizations designed to help you relax. One designed specifically for sleep can help people fall asleep faster. These meditations can help reduce tension and stress and help you focus. Research has also shown that people who practice regularly are better equipped to handle stress.

The best part about these meditations is that there are over 200 meditations on BetterSleep. Depending on how you feel, you can choose a five-minute meditation or an hour. Each instructor’s tone and guidance will be different, so if you don’t like one meditation, you can simply find another to try.

Additionally, you can find specific guided meditations for sleep, but also for things like gratitude, better self-esteem, to help calm anxiety and more.

Mindfulness meditation

There are different kinds of mindfulness meditations, but the basic premise behind all of them is the same - you’re focusing on bringing your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness is a key aspect of meditation and can help you improve focus and memory, make you less impulsive/emotional, and more.

Mindfulness meditations can be done in the form of self-guided or guided meditations, body scans, progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, and more.

Other forms of meditation to try to help you sleep

Your restful sleep is still possible! Here are some other kinds of meditation you can try. Remember, what works for one person won’t always work for the next, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t find one that works for you right away.

How to start meditating before bed

Time to start incorporating meditation into your bedtime routine (creating and maintaining a good bedtime routine is also a fantastic way to improve sleep). Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Find a quiet space; you can be sitting or lying down depending on your comfort levels
  • Be in comfortable clothes
  • Turn off possible distractions like the TV or your phone
  • Find a guided meditation you like if you’re not sure how to start

Remember, if your mind wanders or you feel distracted, that’s completely normal. Over time, practicing meditation will teach you how to get into a state of relaxation so you can have a restful sleep. Sweet dreams!

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