This year, our Sleep Better Study discovered that 54% of people struggle to stay awake during the day. Feeling sleepy during the daytime can be the result of not getting enough sleep or getting regular amounts of poor-quality sleep. Meditation has been proven to help with sleep and there are many ways to get into sleep meditation, you just need to find the one that works for you.
How does meditation help with sleep?
Meditating can aid the quality of your sleep and can also combat some sleeping disorders. Practising meditation regularly can help fight fatigue and can clear your mind after a busy day. Meditation has been proven to create physiological changes such as a drop in blood pressure and a slower pulse rate. These changes in your body can allow you to drift off to sleep easier.
How do I meditate to sleep?
Here is our step by step guide filled with our best tips:
1. Clear your space from distractions
Before heading to bed, be sure that all distractions are out of reach. Make sure your phone is on silent or locked away in another room.
2. Get Comfy
Ensure you, your bedroom and your bed are comfortable. Whether that’s wearing fresh pyjamas, organising your pillows in a certain way or turning the heating on, these elements will be crucial to allowing yourself to relax.
3. Find the right light
Block out any artificial light. Whether that is light coming from electronic devices or the streetlights outside, being in darkness without any distractions is key.
4. Stretch & Assess
Stretch out and take time to assess your body and tension. Work from your toes right up to your head thinking about relaxing each muscle especially in your jaw and shoulders. If you feel any tension, take time to do some simple stretches.
5. Breathing Exercises
Follow your breath by focussing your mind on inhaling and exhaling. Notice your belly rise and fall with each breath and clear your mind of any thoughts and distractions.
Other meditation techniques to help you sleep
Health and well-being expert Joy Bauer shares advice on how to use meditation with two simple techniques to send you to sleep.
Meditation and sleep have long been linked. In fact, the term ‘beditation’, or meditation while lying down, has been coined to emphasise the age-old connection between the technique of bringing your subconscious thoughts to the conscious mind and getting a more restful night’s sleep as a result.
If mind-numbing activities like counting sheep or reading a book on quantum physics aren’t working for you, explore these two ancient meditation techniques to quieten those late-night thoughts and help with the business of getting to bed—and staying there.
This technique involves repeating a particular sound to calm your body and quieten the thoughts buzzing about in your mind. Repetition of the mantra is thought to help you disconnect from distracting or stressful thoughts so that you can tune into your mind’s stillness and peace.
The word mantra has two parts: ‘man’, which is from a Sanskrit word for mind; and ‘tra’, the root of the word for instrument. Literally, mantra means ‘instrument of the mind’. Figuratively speaking, it means ‘revealed sound’. The most well-known mantra is, of course, ‘Om’ (or aum).
Not feeling ‘Om’? No problem. Let your mind decide which sound is most pleasing to you. Then repeat it until your thoughts seem quieter and you feel more at peace (and sleepy).
In the Buddhist tradition, the word Vipassana means ‘insight into the true nature of reality’. Essentially, this form of meditation consists of using self-observation to see things as they truly are. This means recognising both the desirable and undesirable elements of your true nature without passing judgement on yourself.
To try it, think about the activities of the day that may have been off-putting. Ask yourself: what about that occurrence made me uncomfortable or upset? What steps should I take to reconcile this occurrence within myself? How can I shed this feeling so that I can ‘leave it’ in today and not carry it over into tomorrow? Or, how can I react differently so as to not let it affect me as severely?
Being mindful and honest about your thoughts before you go to bed may allow you to release that stress and bring less of it into your sleep and the days that follow. This will help you both to get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night, making you more able to effectively deal with stressful situations in the future, too.
The importance of sleep
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. Getting enough sleep each night is crucial for both physical and mental health. Getting a high quality of sleep should be as important as eating and drinking. Sleep is essential in order to keep our bodies healthy and happy.
A lack of sleep can result in having low energy levels, feeling stressed and feeling irritable. In the long term, research has shown that some people have issues with weight gain, memory problems, maintaining relationships and struggling with simple day to day tasks like driving or working.
Visit our Sleep Matters Club Infographic for tips on how to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Why am I struggling to sleep?
Stress and illness
Worrying about work, finances, family and your health can be very stressful resulting in anxiety and sometimes illness. It is important that stress levels are managed effectively so that they do not lead to long term health issues.
Listen to our podcast about how you can sleep when you are stressed.
Bad habits and disruption to your daily routine
Drinking caffeine or alcohol before bed has been proven to interfere with sleep. It is important to break bad habits and establish a healthy day to day routine. Unpredictable days will not allow you to create a solid sleeping pattern. Going to sleep at a similar time each night and waking up at a similar time each morning allows our bodies to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Check out our podcast on how your daily routine can harm your sleep.
Travel and jetlag
If you are used to visiting countries with different time zones, jet lag could be a common cause as to why you are struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep or stay awake during the day. Having jetlag has also been linked to having a lack of appetite and digestion problems.
Read more about how to stop jetlag messing with your sleep.
Shift Work Disorder
Working early morning shifts, night shifts or rotating shifts combined with struggling to sleep could mean that you have shift work disorder. People with this disorder tend to feel deprived of sleep and this can have implications for overall health and wellbeing such as depression, difficulty concentrating and insomnia.
Find out more about coping with sleep changes when on shifts by visiting our Sleep Matters Club.
Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPS)
If it takes you a good few hours to get to sleep each night you may be suffering from the effects of having DSPS. DSPS has been classed as a common disorder due to approximately 7% to 16% of people being diagnosed.
Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder (ASPD)
ASPD is the opposite of Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. Rather than struggling for fall to sleep at night, people with ASPD tend to go to sleep early in the evening and wake up at early hours of the morning. People who struggle with ASPD are often referred to as “extreme early birds”.
People who have narcolepsy tend to fall asleep at inappropriate moments as they struggle with excessive sleepiness during the daytime, sleep attacks and sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy is a long-term brain condition that is quite rare as it’s estimated to affect only 30,000 people in the UK.
Insomnia is a very common sleeping disorder where people face extreme difficulty falling to sleep. It’s estimated to affect around 1 in every 3 people in the UK. If you have insomnia it is recommended you seek more specialized treatment.
Have insomnia and wondering how to beat it? See our infographic to learn more.
Restless legs syndrome
If you have an overwhelming urge to move your legs when trying to fall to sleep you may have restless legs syndrome. Making small adaptions to your daily routine can help with this if the condition is not too severe.
Chronic snoring, choking, gasping or not breathing during the night are all signs of sleep apnea. Although there are lifestyle changes that can improve this condition, it is advised you seek medical help from a local GP or sleep specialist due to the health risks involved.
Want to know more about sleep apnea? Read more here.
Sleep Meditation Resources
Some helpful apps
The Mindfulness App – This app is suitable for both experienced and beginner meditators. The app offers a free trial and two premium subscription plans.
Calm – This free app offers a simple 30-day programme including the use of meditation sessions and sleep stories.
Headspace – Headspace is a free app that guides you with creating the ideal conditions to get a good night’s sleep.
The best sleep meditation podcasts
Sleep Meditation Podcast – Relaxing sounds of nature and ambient music.
Guided Sleep Meditations – A soothing sleep meditation that uses a countdown method from 10 to 1.
Sleep With Me – The podcast which rambles boring stories to send you off to sleep
The most viewed YouTube videos
Guided Sleep Meditation – A haven of peace for an ultra-deep relaxation.
Sleep Hypnosis for Floating Relaxation – A technique to calm your mind for a night of deep sleep.
Deep Sleep Meditation to Calm an Overactive Mind – Mindful movement to reduce anxious and worried thoughts.
Other ways to fall asleep quickly
Other ideas to combat sleeping struggles include listening to music, using breathing techniques and drinking soothing decaffeinated herbals teas. You could even start a self-help routine by doing things like keeping a sleep diary, improving your diet and exercise and establishing a good bedtime routine.
Will sleep meditation work for you?
Sleep meditation can be difficult. It takes time and practice to master, especially when working out what style you most enjoy. The important thing is not to give up and to keep trying. Thoughts and distractions may arise but just keep reminding yourself to focus on your breath.
Do you have any meditation techniques that help you to unwind or fall asleep? If so, share them with us in the comments below.