Meditation To Sleep guide
Are you afraid of the night because you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep? Deep sleep meditation could be the solution.
If you struggle with sleep, you may find yourself staying up late, watching television or surfing the phone in bed, and generally feeling anxious about the arrival of morning.
These are characteristics common to those who cannot sleep well and those who suffer from poor sleep patterns. In fact, some people avoid sleeping in these ways for years.
Eventually, everyone gets to sleep – even for just a few hours a night. The problem is that bad sleep habits (the inevitable small amount of sleep that many people experience on a regular basis) can have ramifications in your daily life.
Inadequate sleep can cause various health problems, both physical and mental. Even if you lead a healthy lifestyle, eat right, and exercise regularly, your life and well-being will suffer if you don’t sleep long enough.
So what can people do to sleep better and improve their sleep cycles? As it turns out, there’s a clear answer, and it’s not asleep aid like a pill, expensive mattress, or new-fangled type of therapy.
It is the tried and true, always beneficial, the practice of meditation.
What exactly is guided meditation or sleep meditation?
As the title says, guided meditation is when you are guided through the sleep meditation process. Guided sleep meditation is a beneficial tool for individuals aiming to improve sleep quality and quantity.
Guided meditations are based on the individual being instructed through the different processes through one-to-one interaction, video call, video and/or audio recording or application.
The goal of guided sleep meditation is to provide a better quality of sleep for the practitioner. In addition to listening to the instructor, it is strongly suggested to put some background music, for example, sleep music, soothing sounds, to help set the mood and improve sleep. Be prepared for what is called a body scan.
But how does meditation help you sleep?
There are many studies that show the benefits of meditation. For example, it can help you sleep better. Meditation can also improve your mood and lower your stress levels.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries. It has been used by different cultures to help people relax, focus on their breathing or to deal with anxiety and stress.
The practice of meditation is growing in popularity in the United States. There are many apps, books and classes that teach people how to meditate and some companies offer meditation programs as part of their employee benefits packages.
Here are four specific ways meditation practice can help you sleep better and improve the quality of your sleep.
1. Calm the mind
One of the ways that deep sleep meditation prepares you for a long night of deep sleep is to calm the mind, which is often overly active from the day. In Buddhism, a very active mind is called a “monkey mind”. The mind behaves like a monkey that jumps incessantly from branch to branch, never remaining in a quiet place.
While you are at work or school during the day, a monkey mind can be an inevitable part of managing the many areas of your life, as it can produce a great deal of anxiety that is suppressed over time. The fight-or-flight response can also contribute to this anxiety.
The fight or flight response is a natural response to serious threats to your safety and well-being (such as tension and/or running if you encounter a bear in the woods). But when it occurs in reaction to minor stressors, like weekend social gatherings or work-related tasks, it means you’re getting too anxious, negatively impacting your mental health.
To calm the simian mind and fight or flight response, meditation helps practitioners focus on only one thing at a time – a very useful skill in all areas of life. A recent study in the Journal, Behavior Research and Therapy found that focused attention is increased with the simple practice of meditation. In addition, negative intrusive thoughts have decreased and acceptance and attention have increased.
One of the best ways to use meditation to calm the mind is with guided sleep meditation. In particular, guided sleep meditation can be done with the help of a meditation instructor. Whether in a classroom or at home, an individual meditation coach can lead you to practice calming sleep meditation tailored to your unique needs.
You could also ask your yoga or meditation instructor about Yoga Nidra; a practice designed to induce total relaxation and calm, putting you on the verge of sleep (and in some cases, lulling you completely).
2. Calm the body
One of the main reasons meditation helps sleep is that it accelerates the same physiological effects in the early stages of sleep. In other words, when you are in a meditation class and feel like taking a nap afterward, this is not surprising! Both practices facilitate sleep. Therefore, if you want to sleep better, meditation is the perfect practice to do before going to bed.
More specifically, the Anahata meditation teachings can calm the physical nerves and listen to the beating of one’s heart. In fact, recent studies have found that blood pressure drops during and after meditation practice.
You will also notice that physical tension is released from the body during sleep meditation. One of the ways to speed up this release of tension is to do a body scan, which will be explained below. It involves starting at the top of the head or the ends of the toes and working your way up with a conscious full-body scan, looking for areas that have tension, and carefully noting the position and state of each part of the body.
In one version of the body scan, each part of the body is intentionally squeezed and tense for a moment, only to be instantly relaxed and released. While you don’t combine this type of body scan with calming sleep meditation, it can be a beneficial stress management technique.
3. Increase your concentration
Disturbing thoughts, difficult emotions, and lingering worries often prevent people from falling asleep and staying asleep. On the other hand, those who meditate regularly can focus better and are not distracted from troubling thoughts so easily. In a large longitudinal study published in Springer’s Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, it was found that constant meditation practice can lead to significant improvements in sustained attention and concentration.
This is largely due to the fact that meditation focuses on mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness ensures that practitioners focus on the present moment – not the past or the future. This is good because you are probably constantly focusing on the past and the future, whether you realize it or not. Whether you’re worried about what’s going to happen at school or work tomorrow or dwell on that stupid thing you said at the party last weekend. These ruminations are probably a major source of your daily worries and stresses and anxieties.
But the practice of mindfulness – inherent in any meditation routine – emphasizes the present, thus omitting an opportunity to linger and ruminate on annoying and unnecessary anxieties that would generally keep you awake at night, interfering with your sleep cycle.
4. Increase your melatonin levels
If you’ve ever taken melatonin to help you fall asleep, you know it actually works. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that occurs in the brain right before sleep.
It is not necessary to take a melatonin pill, however. You can help your body produce more just by meditating. A recent study by Australian scientists concluded that meditation practice will stimulate the production of melatonin:
Experienced meditators who practiced TM-Sidhi or another internationally known form of yoga showed significantly higher plasma melatonin levels in the immediate post-meditation period, compared to the same period at the same time on a check-up night.
What exactly is a conscious body scan?
The instructor will perform the body scan or body scan during the guided sleep meditations. But what is a body scan?
We refer to body scan meditation as mindfulness meditation, promoting awareness of one’s physical body. Using physical sensation and visualization helps the user to anchor himself to the root of the mind in the user’s body and keep it in the present moment. This is especially used during guided meditation and yoga sessions. An excellent example of this is Yoga Nidra for getting a good night’s sleep.
Using a body scan is not necessarily all the instructors will do, but it is a powerful tool for the instructors to guide the practitioner to connect with their body. By performing it, the practitioner will feel an immediate effect of releasing tension in the affected areas, one of the best-guided meditation tools available. This is why the body scan is used for rest to treat insomnia.
It’s dangerous? No, it is not.
Other benefits of guided meditation
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, there are many more to be gained by practicing this type of meditation. Listing all the benefits would take forever. As such, we have limited our list to some of the top-tier benefits that can be expected:
- Stress reduction
- Less pain
- Treat insomnia and sleep deprivation
- Lose weight
- Improve the medical condition
- Make it easier to fall asleep
- Better sleep quality
- Fewer worries about things you can’t control
Try meditation to sleep better tonight
Do you want to sleep better already tonight? Here is a short meditation practice to try tonight, right before bed.
Step 1: prepare the scene
While this isn’t necessarily a step associated with meditation, it can be helpful in facilitating better sleep on a regular basis.
To set the stage for a good night’s sleep, start dimming the lights in your bedroom. Make sure all screens and technology are put away. If necessary, set your alarm in advance. Put on your pajamas (make sure it’s comfortable for the duration of the night). Make sure you have clean sheets on your bed.
At this point, you might consider sprinkling a calming scent into the air or dabbing a few drops of essential oils on your pillow. Scents like chamomile and lavender are great for promoting sleep. If you like to sleep with background noise, start a stream of white noise or water or wind sounds at a low level.
Now, get on the bed.
Step 2: get positioned for meditation and a good night’s sleep
To meditate in bed, lie on your back with your head on the pillow and your hands on your sides. Place your body, neck, and head in a neutral and relaxed position. You shouldn’t feel any tension or stress in your body.
To make sure, do a quick body scan, starting at the top of your head and working your way down your body to your toes. Make any necessary adjustments, including moving the blankets so they’re over your body in the same way you would normally sleep with them.
Step 3: Take three deep breaths
Start by taking three deep breaths. Remember that these should come from the base of your lungs. Start by inhaling and taking in a full breath of air, feeling your stomach rise as you do so. Count to five slowly as you inhale.
For a brief moment, hold your breath before exhaling to a count of five as well. Repeat this breathing exercise two more times.
Step 4: begin the visualization of the meditation.
For a beginner meditation, we will do a brief visualization.
Gently close your eyes. Breathe slowly but normally, remember to take the air from the bottom of the lungs instead of breathing shallowly through the shoulders.
Imagine you are lying on the soft grass in a cozy clearing in a wood. Around you, cool trees rustle in the light wind. Wildflowers grow near your feet and all around you. Hear birdsong and the distant gurgle of a mountain stream. The temperature is perfect. You are in the shade, but you can feel the warmth of the sun and the cooling sensation of a fragrant woodland breeze.
Step 5: recite a mantra in your mind
Now, take control of your breathing once more. There is no need to continue along, prolonged deep breathing routine. Instead, you will focus on the inhalation and exhalation and repeat a mantra with each inhalation and exhalation. You should move slowly in your breath, but not too slowly. You should feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Keep in mind your cozy spot in the woods. Are you still there.
- Now, as you take your next breath, say these words in your mind: “Breath in peace and calm.”
- As you exhale, say these words in your mind: “Exhale the stress and tension.”
- Repeat this mantra as you continue this deep breathing technique at your own pace and visualize your place in the woods.
Ideally, you will fall asleep while doing this meditation. However, remember that it is okay if you are unable to fall asleep when practicing this meditation for the first time. You can try again. By doing this meditation in the evening before going to bed for several nights, you will teach your body and mind to relax and focus on calming mental and physical sensations – all of which are necessary to facilitate deeper, better, and faster sleep.