Are you someone who gets stressed out easily and finds it challenging to relax and unwind or fall asleep at night?
If so, you’re definitely not alone.
Many people struggle with stress from work, school, home life, or other factors. In fact, recent studies show that stress is one of the most common reasons why people can’t fall asleep at night.
But with the right tools and techniques, you can learn how to meditate at night for better sleep.
Trust me, once you start this practice, your sleep will never be the same!
How to meditate for better sleep:
Let’s start off with a few meditation techniques that will be really helpful when trying to sleep better.
These three techniques have proven amazing when it comes to relaxing and unwinding before drifting off to dreamland:
When people hear the word “meditation,” they often imagine someone sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, and chanting.
This is what we call “contemplative” or “focused attention” meditation.
Many people think that this is the only kind of meditation you can do. In fact, meditation is a broad term for many different techniques that you can choose according to your interests and needs.
A popular kind of meditation is mindfulness meditation, which is about being aware and “in the moment.”
Mindfulness meditation often focuses on your breathing or other sensations in your body. You might also be encouraged to look around you and notice the sights and sounds around you in the present moment.
Mindfulness is all about being present – it means dropping into the present moment and being fully aware of what is happening around you.
The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and all you need is a few minutes.
Here are some simple steps to get started:
1) Find a comfortable position
You can sit on the floor or chair, with your back straight but not rigid.
It’s best to sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed and arms hanging loosely at your sides.
However, you can also easily do this in bed while laying down!
2) Close your eyes or keep them open if it’s easier for you
If you keep them open, focus on a point in front of you, such as on an object like a candle or the ceiling.
You might also practice mindful walking by focusing on the sensation of each footstep as it touches the ground and noting how your body moves as you walk (you can do this by walking slowly around the room).
3) Start noticing every detail around you
Now the actual mindfulness aspect starts. You see, mindfulness means dropping into all of your senses, so start to notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
You might focus on your breathing and how the air feels as it passes through your nostrils.
Or you can focus on the sensation of your clothes against your skin, or the feeling of your hands in your lap.
Try to notice everything that is happening around you at this moment.
4) When thoughts come up, just let them go
Sometimes you’ll find that your mind starts to wander off to other thoughts or memories.
That’s okay! When this happens, just notice what it is that’s distracting you from the present moment and gently bring yourself back to where you are now.
Basically, all you need to do is keep focusing on the current sensations around you and how you feel.
This will immediately make you more relaxed and more aware of the present moment.
What if that seems a bit too difficult or you simply can’t focus?
Well, then this next technique will be perfect for you:
Another type of meditation is guided meditation. This is when you follow a voice or recording that is designed to help you relax and find inner peace.
Guided meditations often use imagery, such as pictures or sounds, to help you focus on certain ideas.
They also might include music or sounds to help you relax and fall asleep. Guided meditation is great for people who like structure, and who may find it difficult to focus on their breathing or make their own images.
However, you can also use guided meditation for mindfulness or other practices.
Now: there is a common misconception that guided meditations are only for beginners.
In fact, guided meditations can be helpful for anyone who wants to relax and let go of their thoughts.
Personally, I’ve been meditating for years and sometimes I still prefer a guided practice over sitting in silence.
You can use guided meditations in addition to your breathing or other mindfulness practices.
For example, you may find that you enjoy using guided meditation before bedtime.
You might also want to use it if you haven’t been able to focus on your breathing or other mindfulness practices.
Guided meditation is a great way to bring yourself back into the present moment when your mind wanders off.
The best thing about guided meditations is that there are so many different ones out there – it’s actually crazy!
And the good news? A ton of them are free! You can simply look them up on Youtube or Spotify and you’ll find whatever you need.
This is another advantage of this type of meditation: each guided meditation has some sort of theme or focus.
There are some to help you fall asleep, there are some for if you feel sad, there are some for when you are excited or nervous – no matter what is going on in your life, there will be a guided meditation for you that meets your needs.
This can be incredibly helpful, as these meditations are designed to help you with whatever emotions you are dealing with!
What if you don’t want to do a guided meditation?
Body scan meditation
Body scan meditation is another popular type of meditation. This is when you focus on one part of your body, such as your feet, hands, or head, and bring your attention to that area.
Body scan meditation is a type of mindfulness meditation in which you direct your attention to different parts of your body.
You can also focus on your breathing. Body scan meditation is a good way to calm your mind and relax your body before going to sleep.
You see, a lot of guided meditations actually incorporate a body scan meditation.
For example, you may have a guided meditation for when you are feeling stressed, and in that guided meditation, the person guiding you will ask you to focus on your breathing and then to bring your attention to certain parts of your body.
This is how the body scan is incorporated into a guided meditation.
Body scan meditations are a great way to relax and let go of your thoughts because they allow you to focus on one thing at a time. Even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time!
Also, they are incredibly helpful if you have trouble focusing on your breathing during mindfulness meditations because they force your mind to focus on one part of your body at a time instead of all at once.
The thing is, your brain can’t think two things at once, so if you force its attention onto certain parts of your body, then it won’t have time to think about the things you are stressed about!
Now: an easy body scan meditation you can do is to start at your feet and work your way upwards through your entire body, always focusing on a body part, then visualizing it completely melting and relaxing, then moving on.
By the end of the body scan, your entire body should be relaxed and probably on the verge of sleep already!
This is a great technique to use!
But sometimes, something as simple as the breath can do wonders:
Breathing techniques to help you sleep
Breathing techniques are another type of meditation. Breathing meditations may involve focusing on your breaths in and out, counting your breaths, or trying a combination of those approaches.
Deep breathing is a popular breathing technique that can help you sleep. Deep breathing is when you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, taking slow, deep breaths.
Try counting while you do this. For example, breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds. Continue until you feel calm and relaxed.
Your breath is actually directly linked to how you are feeling emotionally.
When you are calm, you breathe deeply. When you are anxious or stressed, you will have very shallow, quick breaths that make you even tenser!
This is why you can utilize deep breathing to calm yourself down.
And when you are relaxed, you will be able to fall asleep more easily!
Another breathing technique is called 4-7-8 breathing. This is a great way to relax and fall asleep because it involves the diaphragm, which is directly linked to the parasympathetic nervous system.
This means that this technique will help your body relax and fall into a restful sleep state.
It’s also incredibly easy to do! To do this technique, all you have to do is breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, then exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat until you feel relaxed and ready for bed!
How long should you meditate for?
Many people are concerned about the amount of time they should be meditating.
The best way to figure out how long you should be meditating is to follow your own feelings and intuition.
If you are new to meditation, it can take a while until you have fully figured it out. That’s okay!
There are many different types of meditation and many different ways to do each type of meditation. You may need to try different ways of meditating before you find the one that works best for you.
But when it comes to how much time you should spend on meditation, it ranges from 3 minutes to a few hours!
With guided meditations, it’s quite easy – simply follow the meditation. If you meditate on your own in bed, meditate till you fall asleep!
But usually, 10-15 minutes will be a good amount of time that allows your body to relax and fall asleep.
How can meditation help you sleep?
When you meditate, you allow yourself to relax and release stress in a safe way.
You can do this by sitting quietly, focusing on your breathing, or by using other techniques, such as imagery or sound.
You can also do this by focusing on your body. When you have less stress, you will have less trouble falling asleep.
Meditation encourages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part of your nervous system that lets you rest and sleep.
When you are stressed, you are doing the opposite – your body is in the sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight mode!
Because meditation calms you down, it’s incredible for helping you sleep!
What are the benefits of meditation before sleep?
When you meditate before bed, you will not only fall asleep quicker, but you will also stay asleep longer and sleep more deeply.
This is because meditation helps you to clear your mind, relax your body and release stress.
When you are clear-headed and stress-free, you are more likely to fall asleep quickly and sleep more soundly.
Meditation can also help you to stay asleep by getting rid of worries that may otherwise keep you awake.
But those aren’t the only benefits of meditation.
- reduce anxiety
- improve your mood
- reduce stress and worry
- increase mindfulness
- improve your overall health
- improve focus
- reduce inflammation
- improve heart health
- and much more!
What other ways are there to release stress and relax at night?
Maybe you have tried meditation at night and you simply don’t love it.
Nothing wrong with that! You see, just like with anything else, not everybody will benefit from meditation because not everybody will be able to resonate with it.
If you find yourself in that situation, there are luckily many other things you can do to release stress and relax at night.
You can also try writing in a journal, reading, or listening to soothing music.
Yoga and stretching exercises can also help you relax, let go of stress and prepare for sleep. And, you can also try aromatherapy, as certain scents can relax you and help you fall asleep.
Some scents that are proven to help with sleep are lavender, chamomile, and jasmine.
But another thing you can try is exercising – but not right before bed.
You see, exercise can be an amazing way to get rid of stress and relax, but it can also be too stimulating for your body.
You see, when you exercise, your body gets flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, which are the hormones that help you to get pumped up and energized.
These hormones are awesome when you’re exercising, but they’re not so great if you want to fall asleep.
In fact, because of how these hormones affect your body, they can actually make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep!
So what can you do? Try exercising in the morning or afternoon instead of right before bed.
This way, your body will have enough time to recover and calm down from the workout before it’s time for sleep.
You’ll be able to reap all the benefits of exercise without suffering from its potential side effects!
Is there a right or wrong way to meditate?
There are many different ways to meditate and no right or wrong way to do it.
However, there are certain things you can do to make your practice more effective. Choose a time when you are most likely to have enough privacy and silence to meditate, such as first thing in the morning or before bed.
Make sure the place where you are meditating is comfortable and clean.
Sit or lie down in a way that is both relaxed and comfortable, but still allows you to be alert.
Focus on your breathing and on observing the thoughts that come into your mind.
Letting go of thoughts and feelings such as stress, anxiety, or sadness that may be troubling you is the key to experiencing the benefits of meditation.
But in general, figure out what feels best for you.
The thing is, there really isn’t a way for you to mess this up, as long as you can relax and feel good, you are doing it correctly!
Meditation is a great way to relax before bed and can have many other benefits, such as helping you to stay calm, focused, and clear-headed during the day.
It’s important to choose a type of meditation that works for you and to make sure you have a regular practice.
Now that you know how to meditate, it’s time to get started. As you will soon see, it’s very easy to do and can make a huge difference in your life.