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Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

SAVE WITH BUNDLES

Enjoy 500+ Guided Meditations:

Meditation For Sleep

Whether you have trouble falling asleep, wake up throughout the night, or just feel tired in the morning, meditation for sleep can help relax your mind and body at bedtime and improve your overall quality of sleep.

Just like nutrition and exercise, sleep is critical to your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Long- and short-term sleep deprivation has been linked to low energy, decreased focus, and irritability as well as more serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (1).

Sleep meditations incorporate a variety of relaxation techniques designed to help you let go of stressful thoughts, release tension from your body, and focus on your breathing. These techniques—combined with a consistent bedtime routine and healthy lifestyle choices—can help you prepare for and get a better night’s rest as well as function better throughout the day. Consistent meditation practice has been linked to better mental focus and improved energy (2).

While you have most likely experienced the repercussions of a bad night’s sleep (low energy, grogginess, irritability, etc.), you may not be aware of all of the benefits that a consistent sleep meditation practice has to offer. 

A recent study published by JAMA Internal Medicine showed that middle-aged adults who had trouble sleeping and completed a mindfulness awareness program experienced less insomnia and fatigue after six weeks of daily 20-minute sleep meditations (9).

  • Reduce stress: Studies have shown that meditation can decrease your stress levels by redirecting your thoughts from worries about the past and future and keeping your mind in the present moment (10). This can be especially helpful when a busy mind is preventing you from falling asleep at night.
  • Improve attention and focus: A study conducted by Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni found that individuals with a consistent meditation practice had more stability in their ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC), or the part of the brain that is linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering, as compared to non-meditators. While both groups showed consistent brainwave activity in the vPMC, meditators were able to better control their thoughts before they spiraled out of control (11).
  • Promote emotional regulation: A study conducted by Yi-Yuan Tang showed improved emotion regulation after mindfulness training, including an increase in activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and adjacent prefrontal cortex, the parts of the brain related to self-control (12).
  • Increase melatonin: A consistent meditation practice has been shown to increase melatonin levels, which plays a vital role in sleep regulation (13). 
  • Activate your parasympathetic nervous system: Transcendental meditation techniques have been shown to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system or your rest and digest response, which is key to bringing the body to a calm and relaxed state (14). 
  • Deactivate your sympathetic nervous system: The same study also showed that transcendental meditation techniques deactivated your sympathetic nervous system, which controls your flight or fight response (14). 

 

The relaxation techniques used in sleep meditations provide you with a wide range of benefits that can help better prepare your mind and body for a good night’s sleep as well as help you throughout the day when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just in need of a break. 

Here’s a simple progressive muscle relaxation meditation that you can try to help you sleep better at night: 

  1. Begin by finding a comfortable position lying down in your bed. 
  2. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and focus your attention on your body. Notice which muscles are tense and which are relaxed. 
  3. Take three rounds of deep breaths. Feel your abdomen and lungs expand as you inhale. Exhale slowly and feel your muscles soften. 
  4. To begin the progressive muscle relaxation, start by tightening the muscles in your face. Hold for five seconds, release, and pause for ten seconds.
  5. Moving down your body, tighten your muscles part by part—shoulders, back, arms, hands, stomach, legs and feet. Pause between each set. 
  6. Once you’ve tensed and released each muscle in your body, scan your body again and enjoy the feelings of relaxation that you’ve created. 
  7. Let your body feel heavy, sink into your bed, and continue taking deep breaths until you are able to fall asleep.

 

You can complete this meditation right before bed or any time that your body feels especially tense. 

 

If you’d like to try a visualization meditation for sleep, listen to Magic Carpet Sleep Meditation by Chodo Campbell.

Resources & References

For more information on sleep meditations, sleep hygiene and bedtime routines, be sure to check out these Untangle podcast episodes: 

 

References:

  1. National Sleep Foundation: How Excessive Sleep Can Affect Your Metabolism Accessed on: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-excessive-sleep-can-affect-your-metabolism
  2. Black, D., O’Reilly, G., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. and Irwin, M. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances. JAMA Internal Medicine, [online] 175(4), p.494. Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2110998 [Accessed 3 April 2020].
  3. Prevalence and perceived health associated with insomnia based on DSM-IV-TR; International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision; and Research Diagnostic Criteria/International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Second Edition criteria: results from the America Insomnia Survey. Roth T, Coulouvrat C, Hajak G, Lakoma MD, Sampson NA, Shahly V, Shillington AC, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK, Kessler RC Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Mar 15; 69(6):592-600.
  4. Voitsidis, P., Gliatas, I., Bairachtari, V., Papadopoulou, K., Papageorgiou, G., Parlapani, E., Syngelakis, M., Holeva, V., & Diakogiannis, I. (2020). Insomnia during the COVID-19 pandemic in a Greek population. Psychiatry research, 289, 113076. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113076
  5. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. 3, Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
  6. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
  7. John Hopkins Medicine: Exercising for Better Sleep on: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep#:~:text=Exercise%20Decreases%20Insomnia,to%20medical%20treatments%20for%20insomnia.
  8. National Sleep Foundation: The Sleep Environment http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/the-sleep-environment
  9. Harvard Health Publishing: Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726
  10. Science Direct: Mindfulness-based therapy: A comprehensive meta-analysis https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735813000731?via=ihub
  11. Psychology Today: Brain Scans Show How Meditation Improves Mental Focus https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/you-illuminated/201204/brain-scans-show-how-meditation-improves-mental-focus
  12. Science Direct: Mindfulness meditation improves emotion regulation and reduces drug abuse https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871616001174
  13. Nagendra, R. P., Maruthai, N., & Kutty, B. M. (2012). Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep. Frontiers in neurology, 3, 54. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2012.00054
  14. Harvard University: Calming Your Nerves and your Heart Through Meditation http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2009/issue61/#:~:text=The%20physiologic%20benefits%20of%20transcendental,epinephrine%2C%20norepinephrine%2C%20and%20cortisol.
  15. Science Daily: Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609072719.htm
  16. Teplan, M. (2002). Fundamentals of EEG. [online] Available at: http://www.edumed.org.br/cursos/neurociencia/MethodsEEGMeasurement.pdf [Accessed on March 12, 2020]

 

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