Sleep Meditation: How to Use Meditation to Fall Asleep
Are you having trouble getting good sleep? If your mind races the minute your head hits the pillow, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and many of us aren’t getting it.
If you can’t sleep, it could be stress taking over. You start thinking about your finances, career, children, home, pets, friends, the future; this overwhelming flood of thoughts gets in the way of restorative sleep. Luckily these elements that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep can be fixed through sleep meditations.
Sleep meditation is a meditation practice that eases you into a restful sleep by using time-tested techniques such as visualisation or controlled breathing. It is usually experienced through a relaxing guided meditation track. Not only will it help you sleep better it will also make you feel more relaxed and calm throughout the day.
It’s easy to start. In fact, it requires nothing from you but a willingness to try.
Before we dive in and discuss how it works and how to choose the best meditations to sleep soundly, let’s explore why putting effort into getting good sleep is important.
The dangers of not getting enough sleep
According to the US Department of Health, sleep deprivation can have severe consequences on your health and lifestyle.
You may become forgetful and less productive. This can cause issues at work, especially if you nod off on the job.
Your friends and family can also be affected by your sleep deprivation.
Feeling constantly sleepy can lead to irritability and moodiness, impacting your relationships, so be proactive in protecting your good sleep habits.
Reflexes are impaired after a sleepless night. For instance, it may be unsafe if you get behind the wheel sleepy. You may even notice that you’re clumsier when you don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation not only affects the mind but the body as well. It increases your risk of diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, and heart disease. These are serious conditions that you should contemplate if you have insomnia or poor sleep habits.
Good sleep begins with sleep meditation
Practicing meditation before sleep has been shown to lead to happiness and optimism. It also improves insomnia symptoms, stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Sleep meditation is a low-risk alternative to addictive sleep medications that can have unwanted side effects. These drugs might even make it harder for you to sleep in the future.
As you practice sleep meditation, it activates the brain’s reward center, which is a part of the brain where neural pathways are responsible for positive emotions. When the reward center is activated, it makes you feel positive and joyful. Happiness hormones (dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins) are triggered as you meditate, which leaves you in a good mood when you wake up.
Guided techniques behind sleep meditations
Sleep meditation induces relaxation by making you focus on your body and certain thoughts and imagery. There are many kinds of meditation techniques you can try as you adjust your sleep cycle.
Mindful breathing pulls your attention to your breath. You will focus on each inhale as it enters your body and then you will follow the breath all the way out into a complete exhale. Only concentrate on breathing. If your mind starts to wander that’s okay. Simply return your focus to your breath.
Tip: To start mindful breathing you can follow along with the breathing exercises on the Relax Melodies app.
Instead of focusing on your breath, gratitude meditation has you concentrate on things you are grateful for. They can be as small as a fresh flower, or something big like your job or your partner.
Tip: Challenge yourself to think about the smallest things you are grateful for.
- Body Scan
Body scan meditation tunes you into your body. By making a progressive mental scan of yourself, you will slowly focus on each body part to develop a sense of awareness and mindfulness of bodily sensations. Eventually, you will feel each clenched muscle getting more relaxed.
Tip: If you’re especially tense, you can practice body scan meditations during the day; just make sure you do it sitting up!
If your goal is to deepen your meditation practices, try visualizing. Visualization is usually experienced through a guided program in which an expert leads you through each step of the visualization process, opening your creative mind and preparing it for restful sleep.
Tip: You can start by imagining yourself in a dream destination, with everything completely perfect.
Mantras for meditation are words or phrases that help you disconnect from your stressful thoughts by becoming an anchor for your attention. By repeating these words or phrases you enter a state of greater relaxation. The mantras are a precious resource to recover calmness, serenity, and strength. By using a mantra, the mind returns to its state of stillness.
Tip: You can use any personal mantra you want, such as “I am light,” “I am good,” or “Grow.”
There is no way that you can practice sleep meditation incorrectly, so try some things out. You may even consider trying yoga nidra.
If you want to start experiencing with these techniques we suggest you try the Relax Melodies app.
It features a rich catalogue of guided meditations that integrate all the techniques mentioned above.
What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is an ancient meditation practice and a powerful stress reliever. It completely relaxes your body and helps you access deeper brainwaves that are extremely restful. In fact, the translation of yoga nidra is “yogic sleep.” Those who use yoga nidra claim they were so well-rested after a 15 minute session that it felt like 1 whole hour of deep sleep.
This practice is also used more and more as a technique to fall asleep quicker as it already puts you in a deeply relaxed state.
In a typical yoga nidra session, you follow the voice of an instructor as they take you through visual and relaxation cues. While you listen, you lay comfortably on your back in what is called the savasana or corpse pose. This position helps you access the profoundly relaxed state that is brought on by yoga nidra.
What yoga nidra does:
- Silences an overactive mind
- Reinvigorates you after mental exhaustion
- Increases your dopamine levels by 65%
To start experiencing with this ancient practice we suggest you try the yoga nidra sessions on the Relax Melodies app. They were made to ease you into a deep sleep by taking you through the key principles of yoga nidra.
To get the most out of sleep meditation we suggest you follow these four pillars. Each of these pillars address a key aspect of meditation that helps make a session successful. If you follow each component every day, you’ll quickly feel the benefits on your sleep and overall well-being.
Your nightly routine
1.1 • Make time
Start with a 10-minute meditation and, little by little, you can increase the time. Eventually, you can work your way up to 30 minutes or more per day. It’s better to start slowly and improve your abilities gradually.
In fact, with 10 minutes a day, you can start to feel the improvements and begin to experience all the benefits of the practice. Consistency is important.
1.2 • Be patient
Be patient and be kind to yourself. The brain is a muscle and, just as you regularly go to the gym to exercise, you will also have to practice sleep meditation to feel its full benefits.
2.1 • Make your bedroom sleep-ready
Your brain should begin to associate comfort and relaxation with your bed as you practice sleep meditation. Close curtains or blinds and make sure that there will be no distractions. Try to keep devices like TVs, laptops, and tablets out of the bedroom.
2.2 • Use white noise
If you prefer not to use relaxing music, try using white noise to block out distracting sounds. A white noise is a relaxing constant background noise that has the ability to drown out other sounds. This is especially helpful to drown out noises that you can’t control, like sirens or the wind. The Relax Melodies app features several white noises that you can try for free.
2.3 • Temperature
Try to find a comfortable temperature while meditating. It will reduce potential distractions like sweating or shivering. We suggest setting your bedroom temperature to 60-65°F (16-18°C) which is defined as the best temperature to fall asleep.
3.1 • Lie down
Snuggle up in bed, turn the lights off, and lie down. Don’t be afraid to move or adjust pillows and blankets to best suit your needs.
3.2 • Breathe
Whatever position you prefer, make sure it allows you to breathe deeply and slowly.
If you’re looking for the perfect evening routine to wind down, all while eliminating stress and tension from a hard day, SleepMoves may be exactly what you need!
Built in collaboration with physiotherapists and healthcare professionals, SleepMoves are gentle body-mind exercises done with a pillow to guide you gradually into sleep.
4.1 • Be kind to yourself
Just as you wouldn’t berate a friend who is trying something new, be kind to yourself. You won’t be perfect right away, but that’s why you’re practicing. Only be encouraging and try to curb any self-induced negativity.
4.2 • Choose a mantra
Think of one word or phrase. Use the mantra as a way to come back to the present moment anytime you feel your mind straying.
4.3 • What are you feeling?
Pay attention to all five senses as you try to quiet an overactive mind. This will help ground you in the moment.
Beginners and experts alike enjoy guided meditation, especially when trying to sleep. It’s almost like someone tucking you in with a bedtime story.
If you’re ready to try sleep meditation, Relax Melodies is a great starting point with guided breathing and meditations for daytime and nighttime.