If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to switch into bedtime mode, why not try a relaxing meditation to help sleep? Whether you use mind-relaxing music, deep breathing or a guided meditation for sleep, you may just find that with a bit of practice, deep sleep meditation is the answer to your insomnia struggles.
Relaxation and deep sleep meditationIs there any science behind night-time meditation for sleep health? A small study by Harvard in 2015 found that mindfulness and sleep meditation techniques were more effective than other sleep education strategies for reducing issues of insomnia, fatigue and depression.
It is thought that deep sleep meditation can help, not only by allowing us to fall asleep quicker, but by improving the quality of our sleep overall.
Relaxing, deep sleep meditation helps you drift off faster
By bringing your thoughts back to the present, rather than allowing you to mull over yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s worries, mindfulness meditation for sleep can help to calm your racing brain.
Deep sleep meditation even has a physical impact on the brain by decreasing the beta brainwaves that deal with decision making and alertness, while increasing other types of brainwaves that promote relaxation and deep sleep. This can make it particularly beneficial if you tend to lay awake in the early hours.
Sleep meditation improves the quality of your shut-eye
Guided meditation for sleep has been proven to increase the levels of sleep-inducing melatonin that the brain needs to achieve deep, regenerative REM sleep.
This means that people who practice mindfulness meditation for sleep and relaxation are far more likely to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
Night-time meditation for sleep and insomniaWhile there are several apps and guided sleep meditation CDs providing audio to help you nod off, it may not be necessary to spend any money at all. Try these simple mindfulness sleep techniques instead…
Resist the temptation to get frustrated with your brain for wandering, particularly when you are first practising meditation for sleep. If you get distracted, immediately forgive yourself, return to your breath and pick up where you left off. Over time you’ll find it easier to stay focused for a longer period of time.
Breathing meditation for sleep
Lay still on your back, breathing naturally, but deeply. Deep sleep meditation could be as simple as counting your breaths in and out if this helps you to relax, but you can take it further by including some visualisation. You could picture a pleasant scene, like a honeymoon beach, or a childhood picnic spot. Use all your senses to explore your surroundings – feel the warm sun on your arms, smell the freshly cut grass.
Deep sleep meditation is about refocusing negative thoughts into positive ones – there is no wrong or right way to do this, as long as when your brain wanders you gently bring it back to the task at hand.
Follow a routine for meditation to help sleep
Imagine you are laying on a cloud, scudding slowly through a blue sky. Focus on each part of your body in turn. Start with your toes – imagine them relaxing completely, sinking into the cloud and all the tension within them releasing. Pause to feel yourself floating on the cloud. Then return to your heels. Continue in this way, travelling up your body, down your arms and through your neck and head in whichever order feels right.
Pause to enjoy the feeling of complete relaxation. Repeat if necessary or just lay still enjoying some deep breathing. This is a useful meditation for sleep and insomnia that will have you drifting peacefully into a deep sleep in no time. Try music to relax the mind
Some people find that listening to sleep meditation music is more effective for them than guided meditation to help sleep. Generally, it’s best not to choose music that you listen to all the time or catchy tunes that you would usually sing along to as you’ll find they wake your brain up, stimulating it into activity. Instead, try music without words, like calm classical music (not a rousing orchestral number that’s likely to get your heart thumping!), or even sounds of nature. Try a few styles to see what works for you.
Alternatively, listen to a podcast on a low volume – choose one with a subject that isn’t particularly interesting to you, but is led by a voice you find relaxing instead. You may find this is enough to calm and focus your brain by providing peaceful sounds to sleep to.
Remember, different people find different things that work for them. If you’re trying sleep meditation for the first time, don’t be discouraged if sleep doesn’t come immediately. Be assured of the scientific evidence behind meditation to help sleep, and persevere.
If you are looking for more ideas about how to sleep better at night naturally, visit our Sleep Health & Advice hub.