Discover the benefits and develop a routine for guided meditation for sleep.
Guided meditation for sleep is a specific type of meditation practice that can be used to help quiet your mind before you go to bed. Other practices, such as transcendental meditation, ask you to empty your mind or to only focus on a single mantra. Guided meditation is easier, especially for beginners, because you have another person talking you through the meditative process. This allows you to focus on what the guidance is saying rather than everything else running through your brain.
There are many different styles of practice for guided meditation for sleep. Let’s explore some of the most popular ones below. Feel free to try different practices to find the best fit for you.
Mindfulness is one of the most prominent meditation techniques. The goal of this practice is to be fully in the present moment. The instructor may guide you to focus on your breath or perhaps sensations in different parts of your body. If you find yourself stuck in your own head, it may be because you are living in the past or the future. Mindfulness helps bring you into the now and quiets those troubling thoughts. This may be a beneficial practice for people who struggle with worrying about the future or find themselves ruminating about the past.
Progressive relaxation is a body-focused technique. During it, you are meant to focus on tensing and then relaxing certain muscles. This exercise teaches your body to respond to tension with relaxation rather than more tension (McCallie et al., 2006). This may be a helpful technique for you if you carry your stress in your body and muscles.
Yoga Nidra aka yoga “sleep”
This deep relaxation practice is designed to put a person into a deep-rest state of sleep while remaining conscious (Parker et. al., 2013). Contrary to most yoga practices, this one does not involve any physical movement. In fact, you are encouraged to lie down in a comfortable position when participating in a session. This particular practice is helpful when you need a quick energy boost during the day, although it can be used to fall asleep as well.
What To Do
There are many different ways that you can approach implementing a guided meditation for sleep practice. It is important to find something that works for you, so feel free to make adjustments and seek out alternatives that make you most comfortable. For example, some people may find they prefer short sessions and others may prefer longer meditations. Develop a routine that makes you feel as relaxed as possible.
1. Choose a guided meditation for sleep video.
Many different videos pop up when searching this term and it can be overwhelming to choose one. However, you only really need two or three videos that you enjoy. Some questions to consider are:
Do you prefer a male or female voice?
Do you like a longer or shorter meditation session?
What kinds of sounds (nature, music, etc.) do you prefer in the background?
2. Create a calm, relaxing environment in your sleeping space.
Try using lavender aromatherapy to help you relax. Make sure you have plenty of blankets and pillows to make yourself comfortable. If you can’t minimize the sound around you while sleeping, try using sleep headphones.
3. Decide whether you will meditate sitting up or lying down.
Some people may prefer completing a shorter meditation while sitting up in bed and then lying down to go to sleep after. You may also choose to complete your guided meditation session in another room and then go to bed after.
4. Put on your meditation and let it guide you to sleep.
Once you have a video ready, it’s time to begin. Focus on the voice of the person guiding you and let them take you away from your racing thoughts. If your mind wanders— which it most likely will— just keep trying to bring your attention back to the guidance. If you feel too frustrated, try a different video or just try again the next day.
5. Be patient with yourself and stay consistent.
Even if you find it difficult to focus on the meditation guidance because of racing thoughts, keep trying. It becomes easier to quiet your mind with regular practice. The benefits are well worth the time you put in.
Sleep serves many important functions in our overall health. It enhances our memory and learning, it can increase physical performance, and it helps clear debris out of our brains that can cause cognitive decline (Spira et al., 2014). Getting adequate sleep can be one of the first stepping stones on the path to improving our well-being. For those of us who struggle with sleep, guided meditation is a wonderful tool for getting a good night’s rest.
McCallie, M. S., Blum, C. M., & Hood, C. J. (2006). Progressive muscle relaxation. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13(3), 51–66.
Parker, S., Bharati, S. V., & Fernandez, M. (2013). Defining yoga-nidra: traditional accounts, physiological research, and future directions. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 23(1), 11-16.
Spira, A. P., Chen-Edinboro, L. P., Wu, M. N., &; Yaffe, K. (2014). Impact of sleep on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27(6), 478–483.