Meditating for better sleep may be easier than you think. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it nor do you have to do it right before bed. You have several options.
How Easy is it to Get a Deeper, More Restful Night’s Sleep?
Deepak Chopra, M.D. also argues that you don’t have to “quiet your mind” or practice for many years before experiencing the benefits of meditation. If you find that your mind continually wanders (especially during your first few sessions), don’t assume that your time has been wasted.
In fact, it has not. You mind may be making small and basic positive shifts without you noticing it. Over time, the benefits of your meditation practice will become more noticeable.
Reducing Stress During Day Can Help Improve Sleep at Night
Many people start a meditation practice because they want to reduce stress, lower their heart rate or become more mindful in their daily lives. Interestingly, all of these benefits actually will help improve sleep quality at night and can fix insomnia.
Joyce Walsleben, PhD at the NYU School of Medicine says that if you can keep stress levels under control throughout the day, you will be able to get a more restful night’s sleep.
Therefore, a daily meditation practice in the morning can help you fall asleep faster and achieve a deeper level of sleep at night. That said, if you’ve had a stressful day at the office, meditating immediately before bed can also help you slow down, relax and fall asleep.
A Headspace article in the Huffington Post explains this well. Meditation is not an exercise to make you go to sleep. Rather, it increases your mind’s awareness so that you sleep better.
How to Meditate for Better Sleep
People use a variety of meditation methods to relax. Some practice deep breathing through the nose or alternate nostrils. Other people chant a mantra over and over. Others focus on the present moment according to their 5 senses; sounds, smells, sight, taste and touch.
You can even incorporate movement into your practice like yoga, tai chi or outdoor walks. Some people even claim to meditate while running or swimming.
No matter what method you choose, keep in mind that you can incorporate deep breathing exercises in any routine. According to sleep blogger Ethan Green, deep breathing is a well known relaxation technique.
It can relax muscles, slow down the heart rate, breathing and distract the mind from stressful thoughts. Focusing on your breath also makes it easier to bring your mind back to your focus when it accidentally wanders away from your meditation.
When to Meditate for Better Sleep
BusyMeditator.com says that it doesn’t matter what time you meditate as long as you pick a time and stick to it. This helps you develop a habit that will last long-term. Two common times are morning and evening.
Morning: Some people do their meditation first thing in the morning when the mind is least cluttered with thoughts. Plus, a morning ritual is often easier to stick to because it gets done before other tasks take over the day. Not enough time in the morning? Consider waking up 20-30 minutes earlier
Evening: Other people prefer to schedule their meditation in the evening. For some, it can be easier to incorporate into a nighttime routine. If you find that you fall asleep during a bedtime practice, try doing it outside the bedroom or standing up.
When it comes down to it, you can really schedule your practice anytime you want. For example, the end of the workday, during your lunch hour or even “unscheduled” periods where you are feeling overly stressed.
However, Laura Maciuika, EdD, clinical psychologist and author, recommends avoiding the period right before bedtime where meditation can often be confused with “relaxing into sleep”.
Meditation for Sleep, if You’re Wide Awake
However, what if you are laying in bed and cannot fall asleep? Meditating in bed can help. Sleep.org says that you can slow your pulse, blood pressure and stress hormones through meditation. Then, you’ll fall asleep faster.
The 3 common practices are (1) mindfulness (2) awareness focus on a single item and (3) guided meditation. Here is an example of a guided meditation that you can play to help you fall asleep.