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What Is Sleep Meditation and How Can You Practice It?

What Is Sleep Meditation and How Can You Practice It?Updated on November 19, 2020 | Published on September 10, 2019
Reviewed by Leah Kinsella, Certified Meditation Coach

Sleep Meditation

Insomnia is real but so is sleep meditation.

If you have trouble sleeping at night, you know the stress and anxiety it brings along with it. Apart from the disturbed mental health, sleep disturbances also have multiple impacts on different parts of your body.

People all around the globe brush aside unhealthy sleep quality without knowing its ill effects on the human body. High blood pressure, weakened immune system, depression, heart disease and even shorter life expectancy are just some of the medical conditions that are triggered by improper sleep at night.

But don’t worry, we have a solution:

Guided meditation practice.

In this article, we will discuss all there is to know about sleep meditation, its benefits, correct procedure to practice it and many more.

So, let’s begin!

What is Sleep Meditation?

SUMMARY
Meditation in sleep position to help relax your body, calm your thoughts and fall asleep faster is called Sleep Meditation. 

At night when you are lying still on your bed, your mind is caught up in various thoughts about the day. Sleep meditation or meditation for sleep prevents this and forces you to be present in the moment.

When you let go of the day, everything that’s been done or said, your body and mind is allowed to rest which further improves sleep. Scientifically, sleep meditation quiets your mind, lowers your heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and encourages slow breathing, which cumulatively improves the quality of sleep.

If you practice guided sleep meditation regularly, you will also explore new tips and tricks to focus on your breathing, giving you a restful sleep.

What is guided sleep meditation?

SUMMARY
Meditating before falling asleep accompanied by a sound recording or a person guiding through the process is called Guided Sleep Meditation. 

Guided sleep meditation is a type of meditation that compels you to focus on the physical sensations on your body, away from the thoughts clouding your head. This meditation has been shown to help falling (and staying) asleep for longer periods.

Just like food and water, proper sleep is also critical for us to survive. Yet, the American Sleep Association reveals that around 30 percent of adults suffer from short term problems triggered by insomnia.

A healthy human being requires 7-9 hours of sound sleep every night, but more than a third adults report getting sleep for less than 7 hours. Looking at this condition, it is natural for people to look for alternatives that can give them sound sleep at night.

Guided sleep meditation involves meditating before falling asleep, ideally when you are on the bed. In any other type of sleep meditation, you can practice it on your own but guided sleep meditation is usually accompanied by a sound recording or a person who directs you through the process of guided meditation. They may ask you to breathe, or might even visualize images or sounds also known as guided imagery.

Guided Sleep Meditation Benefits

Meditation improve your sleep hygiene in various ways but the benefits are not just limited to improved sleeping, it promotes your overall health in the process, along with the following:

1. Allows you to rest in the present moment.

Allows you to rest in the present moment

When you lay your bed on the pillow at night, all the suppressed thoughts from the day begin to pop up. Guided Meditation shifts your focus from these thoughts, slowing your mind and allowing you to rest in the present moment. This also allows your mind to take a break from daily stress.

2. Slows down your breathing rate

Slows down your breathing rate

Breathing exercises have been proven to be extremely beneficial for our mental as well as physical health. Since sleep guided meditation allows you to let go of the thoughts, you feel calm from the inside which slows down your breathing rate. Reduced breathing rate also improves sleep.   

3. Reduces stress and anxiety

Reduces stress and anxiety

Humans ruminate and overthink situations so much so that it triggers stress and anxiety. Plus, without any outside distractions, you may fail to control your thoughts which further deteriorates the situation. When you practice sleep meditation, the audio acts as a distraction helping your mind relax.

4. Eases physical pain

Eases physical pain
Eases physical pain

People who are sleep deprived often suffer from headache, high blood pressure, increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. Improper sleep combined with unhealthy eating habits can lead to chronic illnesses which if not taken care of can impact your overall health. Sleep meditation encourages sound sleep along with healthy living and reduced physical pain.

5. Calms your thoughts

Calms your thoughts

Your sleep is delayed because of the turmoil of thoughts in your mind which also impair your short-term and long-term memory. Not only that, bitter thoughts also affect your attention, decision-making ability and reaction time. On the flip side, when you meditate before bed, the voice guides you and you find yourself drifting off to sleep.

6. Activates parasympathetic nervous system

Activates parasympathetic nervous system

Insomnia is usually triggered by stress and worry but meditation counteracts it and improves your relaxation response. But that’s not it, once you are asleep, meditation makes your sleep more deep so that you are not awakened easily. This usually happens because meditation activates your parasympathetic nervous system.

7. Improves Immune System

Improves Immune System

Your immune system is one of the most important aspects of your mind-body connection. Your immune system has a brain of its own, also known as a flowing brain that participates in the chemical messages sent by the brain to the body. Meditation changes these messages in important ways and helps improve your ability to fight diseases.

8. Increased and better sleep

Increased and better sleep

Improved sleep is the most sought-after benefit of meditation. Your mind is often overstimulated due too many activities during the day, excessive background noise or any other sensory stimulation. Meditation reduces these things and acts as a break from sensory stimulation.

9. Reduced risk of many chronic illnesses

Reduced risk of many chronic illnesses

Studies have time and again linked better sleep with a greater sense of wellbeing. A goodnight’s sleep reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular diseases and so many other chronic illnesses.

10. Improves mental strength

Improves mental strength

Your mind processes the entire day in sleep and if you fall short of it, it is sure to cast a great impact on your mental health. Reduced attention, memory problems, and incapacity to assimilate new information are just some of the side effects. On the contrary, improved sleeping with sleep meditation strengthens you from the mind and prepares you for the day.

NOTE
This is not an exhaustive but an exclusive list of meditation benefits listing only the most important ones.

Now that you are introduced to meditation’s magical benefits, I am sure you must be curious to know its procedure. So without much ado, let’s quickly jump onto –

How to practice sleep meditation – all steps.

Meditation is a very simple practice that doesn’t require any special tools or techniques. It can be done anytime, anywhere when you have a few spare minutes at hand.

NOTE
A meditation routine cannot be developed overnight. It requires practice, time, and determination.

Here’s how you can start.

Step 1: Find a quiet area

Meditation is best practiced in a quiet corner of your house or even while you are lying on your bed. Pick a place where you are less likely to be disturbed by outside noises or other members of the house.

Step 2: Turn off the lights

You can either choose to turn off the lights completely or dim the lights. Meditation does not work within rules, so don’t be afraid to create an atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed and ready for sleep.

Step 3: Find a comfortable position

Since you are meditating with a view to sleep better, the best position will be to lie down on your bed and feel at ease. In case you are meditating for any other reason, you may also choose to sit in a relaxed position.

Step 4: Take Deep breaths

Once you feel comfortable, close your eyes, and take deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and feel the air going in and coming out. Visualize all your worries fading out as you exhale the air and let your body relax.

Step 5: Start slow

Initially, you can start with 3 to 5 minutes of meditation before bed and gradually increase the time to 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t force yourself into it, it will take time to be able to control your thoughts.

Benefits of Sleep Meditation and How to practice it
Benefits of Sleep Meditation and How to practice it

You can combine this basic process with specific meditation techniques for improved results. Let’s explore some of these meditation techniques and find out how you can do it.

Body Scan Meditation

If you suffer from chronic pain, you can also start with body scan meditation. In this type of meditation, you need to focus on your breathing and notice your head feels.

When you exhale the air from your system, let your mind relax and feel the energy of the day drain out. Notice the sensation in your body and slowly move through the various parts of your body. You will feel different sensations as you glide through different body parts like stiffness, heaviness, tingling and tightness.

As you do this, you will feel your body getting relaxed which will improve your sleeping.

Mindfulness Meditation

The practice of being in the present moment is called Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness requires you to pay greater attention to what is happening in the moment and prevent all other distractions from affecting your focus.

You can start by focusing on your breath and once you have mastered that, slowly shift inside of you and focus on what’s happening inside you. Meditation and mindfulness when combined can have a heightened positive impact on your sleep.

As you focus on your breathing, inhale, pause for 10 seconds, and then exhale. Repeat this for at least five times. Whenever a thought pops in your head, try to brush it aside and try to refocus on your breathing.

Long story short, mindfulness is a way of living, you can read more about it here.

Gratitude Meditation

Gratitude has always shown a positive impact on your living and when combined with meditation, it not only calms your mind but also makes you more humble. Gratitude is not about being thankful for only the good things in your life but for everything in your life.

If you look closely in your life, you will find that there are so many things that initially don’t serve you good but gradually give you an opportunity to learn and grow.

To start, you can think of three things from your day that you are grateful for. It can be as tony as food on your plate, a deep conversation with your loved one, or as big as securing your desired job.  This will encourage compassionate thoughts before you fall asleep, decrease stress levels, and also improve sleep quality.  

Visualization or guided imagery Meditation

When a person has you visualize a peaceful scene or sound, it is called visualization technique. It is very much similar to guided meditation where the person guides you through the entire meditation procedure.

You can also practice it yourself by listening to some recordings that encourage guided meditation. You can take help of meditation podcasts, meditation apps, online streaming services or your own library.

All you have to do is lie down and play the recording of your choice. Every time your mind wanders off, try to come back and pay attention to the recording. Additionally, you can also guide your mind to think of a peaceful scenery – anything that calms your mind will serve the purpose.

Affirmation Meditation

The practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment with affirmations is known as affirmation meditation. Affirmations are positive and personal statements that you tell yourself out loud or in thoughts so that it registers in your subconscious mind.

You can just lie down on your bed and let your affirmations linger in your mind. You can also record your affirmations and play in on the side while you drift off to sleep. When you are sleeping, your subconscious mind opens to these affirmations and gets assimilated on a deeper level.

You can create affirmations of your own depending on what you want your subconscious mind to learn.

Deep sleep meditation with binaural beats

Binaural beats are a meditation technique which is often used to slow down your brain activity and help you sleep faster.

When the neurons in the human brain interact with each other, they produce brain waves from the pulses of electrical activity. These brain waves are primarily of two kinds: higher frequency brain waves which are associated with concentration and lower frequencies brain waves which are associated with deep sleep.

A type of music is played with two tones of different frequencies, one for each ear. Human brain is incapable of processing the frequencies of this music and instead processes half of the difference of the frequencies.

During meditation when you listen to this music via headphones, these frequencies abate your brain activity and put you in deep sleep.

Chakra Sleep Meditation

Our human body has 7 spinning wheels of energy from the base of the spine to the crown of the head commonly known as Chakras. These chakras govern different functions of your body and its misalignment can cause serious illnesses.

Chakra meditation guides you through each chakra in a way that all of them are aligned and all blocks are released. Chakra meditation, if done correctly, can control the energy flow in your body and improve your overall well-being along with sleep.

Sometime back, we crafted a think-piece especially on chakra and its role in the body. If you need more information on chakras, you can read it here.

NOTE
There are innumerable meditation techniques, each with its own benefits and limitations. You need to choose what suits you the best and perform accordingly.

Sleep meditation music

We have also compiled a list of best sleep meditation music, so that you don’t have to wander elsewhere.

While listening to these meditations, keep in mind meditation isn’t perfection, it’s a process. It’s natural for your mind to wander or get distracted. So, instead of forcing your mind to relax, give it time to relax.

  1. Relaxing Music Dolphin Sounds – It will help you calm your mind from the hustle-bustle of the city and put you to sleep.

2.  Peaceful Music for Sleep – This soothing music has the righṣt balance of music and voice volume that gives you a sense of floating.  

3.  Kundalini Yoga – This music has good quality recording along with soft and slow-moving chirping in the background.

4.  Mindfulness – The music is so warm and loving that it immediately guides you to deep and restorative sleep.

5.  Relaxing music for stress relief – The sound of the moving waves is so calming that it alienates you from all your troubles and forces you into a peaceful sleep.

6.  Relaxing Music Chinese Flute – The melodious flute music gives you a different sense of calmness which also promotes healing while you are asleep.

7. Relaxing rain and thunderstorms with sleep meditation – The sound of falling raindrops reprograms your mind to release stress and help calm your restless mind.

8.  Deep Sleep Music Delta Waves – This is one is guided by very soft and slow music to help you drift off to sleep while it fades in the background.

9.  Guided Meditation for Sleep – In this audio, a female voice guides you step-by-step through body scanning meditation.

10. Yoga Nidra by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This audio is the guided sleep meditation by the famous Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

NOTE
If you want to know more about Yog Nidra as a Practice, you can read it here.

Sleep meditation app

Sleep is such a common problem worldwide that there is a list of sleep apps that promise you a good night’s sleep. But the list is so big that it often leaves people confused about which ones are worth a try.

To help you decide, we have listed the best ones below divided into two sections: Free & Paid. So, download one of these and get the sleep you so desperately need.

Free Sleep Meditation Apps

1. Smiling Mind

Smiling mind is one of the very few 100% free apps that also provide specific meditations for children. Available on both iOS and Android, Smiling Mind has not only been guiding children of all ages but also made mindfulness available for older adults at zero cost.

2. Sleep Cycle

If you want to keep track of your sleep patterns and know how you slept last night, the Sleep Cycle app can do it for you. Available on both iOS and Android, Sleep Cycle is totally free of cost and comes with an alarm clock that wakes you up gently so that you wake up feeling refreshed.

3. Headspace App

Also known as the meditation app, Headspace has meditations for literally everything. From gardening to sleeping to even walking. It is available on both Android and iOS and also has special meditation for kids. However, to make the most of the app, you need to upgrade to its premium version with $50 a year.

4. Insight Timer

Insight Timer is not just an app for meditation but also a community of meditators, and teachers. Available on both Android and iOS, Insight has 10,000+ free meditations but the courses are paid. There are a lot of meditations focusing on different goals like bedtime meditation, healing meditations, and many more.

5. Calm

Unlike other meditation apps that have a proper sequence to follow, Calm allows you to follow the way you want. There are 30+ free basic white noise sounds, 100+ meditations for beginners, and also some relaxing bedtime stories. It is available on both Android and iOS with a premium version for $40/year.

6. Pzizz

Pzizz is more like a sleep timer that plays soothing dreamscape for the length of the time chosen by you. It also comes with a built-in alarm to help you wake up in the morning. Available on both iOS and Android, Pizizz costs you $60/year for full access.

7. 10% Happier

10% Happier hosts a variety of sleep meditations of different time lengths for your convenience. Additionally, it also has a list of meditation courses from a variety of genres along with an option to message the coach for support. It is available on both Android and iOS with a $100/year subscription.

8. Omvana

The #1 app for meditation, focus and sleep tracks in over 30+ countries, Omvana is available for Android, iOS and Desktop. The tracks are spanning over different categories like guided meditation for sleep, music, poetry, sleep-induced tracks, and relaxation sounds. While some are free, some tracks need to be purchased for access.

Healing Sleep Meditation

Sleep Meditation can heal both emotionally and physically. Done right, it can not only help calm your stressed mind from the daily hustle bustle but it can also slow your racing heart, help you control your blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. 

Kids Sleep Meditation

Older adults or young tods, sleep meditation can do wonders to all. Since kids’ minds are tender, the daily situations can have a larger impact on their sleep pattern. Thus, to prevent that parents round the globe practice sleep meditation for their kids. 

More tips on sleep meditation  

In addition to the basic procedure, listed below are some more tips on sleep hygiene which when coupled with meditation will help you achieve sound sleep.

1. Buy a special light that can play the role of sunlight and wake you up at a certain time.

2. Make sure your room doesn’t have any sound except the white noise.

3. Don’t use cell phones or any other blue light devices in the last hour before going to bed.

4. Ensure that the temperature in your room is favorable.

5. Maintain a strict time to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

6. IF you sleep at odd hours due to work commitments, use dark blinds in your room to block light.

7. Wear comfortable clothes like cotton pajamas to bed.

8. Drink ample water, at least 6 – 8 glasses every day.

9. You can also keep a gratitude journal beside your bed.

10. Do some physical exercise every day – like walking or practicing yoga.

Final Thoughts!

Sleep is paramount for the human body yet millions of people around the globe suffer from Insomnia.

If you also dread going to sleep, start practicing sleep meditation today. But remember, meditation is not an instant fix to your sleep troubles, it is a process which will show its effect over time. Be patient, and don’t lose hope.

Like Dalai Lama puts it, “Sleep is the best Meditation.”

Sweet Dreams!

ZzzzzZzzzzzz