Can You Meditate In Bed And How Does It Help Sleep?

8 Min Read | By Anna Ashbarry

Last Modified 5 May 2023   First Added 29 October 2019

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Our 2022 Sleep Survey found 34% of us struggle to sleep because of stress and only 4% of us have consistent, quality sleep. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to improve your sleep quality – one of those being meditation for sleep. That’s because meditation and sleep fit together like a hand in a glove. And don’t just take our word for it, there’s plenty of research to show the positive link between the two. Here, we’ll discuss some of the science behind meditation as well as practical techniques. We’ll also provide resources to help you achieve the ultimate pre-sleep relaxation.

 

Can you meditate in bed?

Yes, you can meditate in bed. Meditation doesn’t require a specific posture or location. It’s all about finding what works for you. For morning meditation, we recommend sitting up against your headboard or wall, so you aren’t at risk of falling back asleep. If you’re meditating before sleep, lying down in a comfortable position is absolutely fine. However, as meditation centres around focusing on your breath, it’s best to lie in a position where you can breathe both deeply and comfortably.

Can meditation help you sleep?

Meditating has been shown to aid the quality of your sleep and can also combat some sleeping disorders. Practising meditation for sleep regularly can help fight fatigue and can clear your mind after a busy day. Meditation has been demonstrated to change our physiology in a positive manner, especially for improving your slumber.

These changes include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved heart rate
  • Reduced cortisol levels – our body’s natural stress hormone
  • Decreased muscle tension

How to meditate for better sleep

Here is our step-by-step sleep meditation guide, complete with our best meditation tips to help you get those forty winks:

image of bedsheets with coloured light

1. Create the right environment for meditating

Before heading to bed, be sure that all distractions are out of reach. Make sure your phone is on silent or put away in another room. It’s also important to ensure your lighting is conducive to relaxation – either turn your lights off or opt for the same mood lighting in which you sleep. Finally, you won’t want to move out of bed after you’ve meditated so make sure you’re wearing what you would normally snooze in.

woman stretching whilst sat down

2. Stretch & prepare your body

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.

3. Take three deep breaths - in through the nose and out through the mouth

Now, we’ll start what’s classically considered meditation. Take three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Ensure each in-breath reaches your diaphragm. It can help to place your hand on your stomach and feel the rise and fall to ensure you are breathing deeply enough.
woman asleep wearing eye mask

4. Close your eyes

Once you’ve taken the first three deep breaths, close your eyes and begin to breathe naturally.

5. Direct your attention to your breath

Follow your breath by focusing your mind on inhaling and exhaling. Notice your belly rise and fall with each breath and clear your mind of any thoughts and distractions. Don’t feel concerned if your mind starts to wander, simply redirect your attention back to the breath and allow those thoughts to pass. Meditation is all about becoming more aware of how the body and mind feel so awareness thoughts creeping in are absolutely normal.

6. Direction attention towards your senses

Quietly move your attention from your breath to your surroundings. Keep your eyes closed but switch your focus to the sounds and smells of your environment. At this stage, also become aware of touch. Concentrate on how your body connects to the bed and the feeling of gravity pulling you down. Become aware of how your clothing and bed covers feel against your skin. While going through this process, keep your breathing natural and don’t worry about any thoughts which may stray into your consciousness.

7. Let go of all attention and simply be

Being mindful is often the hardest stage for most people when meditating. However, this stage is simply about letting go and allowing our body to reach its natural state. Breathe normally and allow thoughts to come and go. When you recognise that you’re focusing on a specific thought, note that and then allow it to pass. It can help to turn the attention back to the breath if you find this difficult.

8. Embrace your new-found calmness

Now’s the time to stop consciously meditating and reflect upon how the body feels. Before you drift off to sleep, become aware of how calm you feel. Granted, if you’re meditating right before sleep you may have already drifted off at this stage! If not, simply become grateful for the relaxation you have now achieved.

Other sleep meditation techniques

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 the two ancient meditation for sleep techniques below. They’ll quieten those late-night thoughts and help with the business of getting to bed — and staying there.

Mantra Meditation

Mantra shape cloud in the sky

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).

Vipassana Meditation

Prayer hands in a meadow

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.

Follow Joy Bauer on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest. For general health information and delicious recipes, visit Joy’s website at JoyBauer.com.

Meditation resources:

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 to create 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 resource that uses a countdown method from 10 to 1.

Sleep With Me – A podcast that rambles boring stories to send you off to sleep.

Sleep Meditation 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 herbal teas. You could even start a self-help routine by doing things like keeping a sleep diary, improving your diet, exercising, and establishing a good bedtime routine.

Will it really work?

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.

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