5 beginner meditations to help you relax and fall asleep
Healthy sleep has more to do with the quality of rest you’re getting more than the quantity of hours. Sleep meditations help create the inner conditions needed for a truly restful night.
The mind and body are connected, so a racing mind creates an agitated body. When we practice meditation to settle the mind, we calm the body—and that calmness is what makes it easier to relax and drift off.
Why might you choose to meditate before bed? Especially if you have insomnia or difficulty falling asleep, meditation has been shown to improve the quality and efficiency of sleep, how quickly you fall asleep, and how long you can stay awake during the day. Meditating before bed can help you to fall asleep faster; once asleep, you’re likely to sleep more soundly, too.
In fact, meditation, the practice of intentionally quieting or focusing the mind, creates physiological changes that are similar to those that happen in your body during the early phases of sleep. Your pulse slows, blood pressure drops, and stress hormones decrease. Being able to get to that state on demand means that you'll have an easier time drifting off when you want to.
Meditating is an accessible way to centre yourself and bring yourself into the present moment. It can also be a challenge to sit still, not fidget, and focus on doing just one thing: nothing.
However, if you master this, even for a few minutes a day, meditating has profound effects. The numerous health benefits of a regular meditation practice include lowering your heart rate and decreasing your overall stress. If you are interested in exploring a mediation practice, consider the following 5 beginner-level meditations.
Before you begin your sleep meditations, lie flat on your back on the bed, take a few deep breaths, and close your eyes, allowing the body to begin powering down. The more you practice this type of meditation, the more likely you are to develop a quiet and peaceful mind that can sleep at ease.
#1 Breathing exercises
This involves regulating your breath — counting breaths, for example — and eventually slowing your breathing down, which signals to the body that it’s time for sleep.
To slow the mind down and release you from patterns of thought, you may wish to count slowly: starting at 100 (or any number your think suitable) counting backwards to one, then starting at 100 again, restarting every time you lose track. Remember, there is no right or wrong — it's all meditating!
A visualisation asks you to imagine an image or scene, then it takes you into a mental state that is similar to hypnosis.
Concentrate on a single face, place, colour, etc. Allow your mind to clear and focus on a single image. Your partner's face. A peaceful green field. A cookie. You get the idea. Notice how this makes you feel.
Some sleep-focused meditation programs focus on appreciation meditation and loving kindness meditation, which ask you to focus on gratitude.
Develop a personal mantra such as, "I am grateful for ___" As the Buddha said, "Better than a thousand hollow words, is the word that brings peace."
Silently repeat your list of things you are grateful for, even if its just a comfy bed, or a hot meal for the day, and allow your mind to clear as you focus on your blessings.
#4 Drift off Mindfully
Finally, it’s time to slip into bed and relax. Take a few minutes to practice your breathing or visualisations. Let go of your daily stresses and strains with every out breath.
Add a little lavender essential oil to your pillow, and be aware of how soothing it is to the senses, calming your mind and body ready for a peaceful night’s rest.
As you drift off, imagine every muscle in your body becoming heavy and sinking into the mattress. Before you know it, you’ll be fast asleep.
#5 Retracing your day
Reviewing your day, in detail, action-by-action, can be a great way to distract your mind just enough to drift off. Starting from getting up in the morning, through showering and having breakfast, spend 20-25 seconds on each of the day’s events, however small. This is great way to begin powering down, before a breathing or visualisation meditation (as mentioned above).
Eat. Sleep. Meditate. Repeat.