Meditate Before Sleep: Useful Guide for Those Who Have Sleep Disorder
Meditation is an exercise for your mind. Just like body muscles, the mind needs training and rest. There is a stereotype that meditation means sitting and doing nothing. But it is a thorough and meticulous work with your own psyche and physiology — a training not for your muscles but your head. With its help, you can achieve a better work of consciousness, for example, to get the ability to relax deeply. According to numerous studies, meditation helps reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Besides, it promotes relaxation, improves sleep quality, and trains concentration.
For meditating, you don’t need special clothes or tech shoes; you don’t need a specially designated place and, in fact, you don’t even need a coach. In this article, I will tell you in detail about meditation before bed: why it is so important, how to properly perform it, and what benefits it will bring to your body. This practice is designed for the long term and needs to be done regularly. However, you’ll get the positive effects even after 15 minutes of work (the heart rate decreases, the nervous system reaction stabilizes, etc.).
Pre Sleep Meditation Guide
Here you will find everything you wanted to know about bedtime meditation — a useful mental tool that will teach you to distract from painful thoughts about the past or upcoming day.
What is a meditation for sleep?
Many people (up to 30%) suffer from sleep disorders. They can start because of exhaustion, stress at work or in the family, illness, unfavorable conditions for falling asleep, jet lags, and so on. Meditation for sleep is designed to help your body switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic one. In other words, make you relax and get ready for bed.
Don’t think that meditation is associated exclusively with religious practices. To master it, you do not need to memorize all the available techniques and styles. A simple focus on your own breath is enough to form a soothing habit at bedtime. Moreover, modern technology facilitates even this aspect of life. Now you can find many apps that provide audio meditation. You just need to put on your headphones and focus on what the speaker is saying.
Should you meditate before you go to bed?
It is necessary to say that there should not be any “you should” in meditation. It will only bring benefits if you want to do it freely. It is important to find your own way to get rid of sleep disorders.
There are already many scientific studies that support the benefits of meditation before sleeping. It speeds up the relaxation process, controls the nervous system, activates the production of sleep hormone (melatonin), lowers blood pressure, slows the pulse, and generally activates those parts of the brain responsible for sleep. Having mastered meditation, you will get such a tool to reduce the negative effects of any stress.
Meditative practice is not risky and is considered a safe activity for most people. However, you should be aware that some categories of people should consult with a specialist before starting meditation. Such groups include all those who have a history of any mental illness. In their case, meditation can have consequences such as increased anxiety and depersonalization. These adverse effects are rare, but you need to know about them.
When is the best time to meditate?
In meditation practice, there are a lot of subjective moments that depend directly on you. That is why there is no wrong or right time for it. If you live a city dweller’s ordinary life, it is better to allocate the most peaceful time of your day for meditation. It depends on your lifestyle, work, and various tasks that you need to perform every day.
- Early morning. Meditation right after waking up will help you catch the right mood for a productive working day and join the routine. The main obstacle in the morning can be mind lethargy if you do not wake up fast.
- During the day. Since meditation helps to calm the mind and focus, you can do it during working hours. Lunch break practice can reduce stress and even make your remaining day more productive. It’s good to have a place in your office where no one will bother you during meditation.
- When you are stressed. Stress can happen at any time of the day — no need to wait for the evening or other convenient time of the day to meditate. If you feel tired or over-stressed, a short meditation session will help you get rid of this condition and return to vigorous activity.
- In the evening. Practice in the evening will help reduce the negative effects of a hard day. Your brain is overexcited by daytime activity, which means it needs calming exercises.
Meditation in the morning or the evening is easier to turn into a daily habit than daytime activities. But is it good to meditate before bed? I would say no. It is undesirable to perform exercises right before bedtime. Leave a small gap, for example, about 1 hour, between practice and sleep. Meditation is a fairly moderate activity, but still, it expends the resources of your body. Give yourself time to calm down after class and prepare for bed.
Types and different techniques of meditation
There are only two types of meditation: focused and analytical (or mindfulness) if we talk about techniques. This statement relates primarily to the Western understanding of meditation. In the eastern religions, schools, systems, and styles of meditation are much more; besides, they are an integral part of philosophical and spiritual teachings. Most meditation techniques are characterized by a deep focus on monotonously repeated actions.
Focused meditation may also be called concentrative meditation or unidirectional meditation. Concentration is a fundamental property of your attention, the ability to arbitrarily direct it to some object, and cut off everything else as unnecessary noise. It is this property that trains in unidirectional meditation. The object is your breath, mantra, candle flame, and more. Developed concentration means that you are entirely in control of your mind. You can direct it to any subject: your scientific research, another person, or a philosophical concept.
The second type of meditation is analytical. It is a special kind of focused thinking in which we set the subject of reflection, and for a certain time, we think exclusively about it. Usually, a complex philosophical concept becomes the subject of such reflection: it is necessary to find understandable analogies from life and realize connections and patterns. The pinnacle of analytical meditation is the contemplation of emptiness and responsible thought over the fact of the inconstancy of the world phenomena.
How to meditate to sleep?
As I wrote before, there are many styles of meditation. Meditation through focused attention on breathing is good for beginners. Sit in a comfortable position with a straight back, cover your eyes, and breathe naturally. You can take a few breath ins and outs, counting to yourself up to four. It will help even out your breathing. Focus your attention on the feelings that arise in the upper lip and nostrils when air passes through them.
The lotus position is indeed the most comfortable posture for meditation due to its special stability. Nevertheless, you can sit in any comfortable position with a straight back, for example, on a chair, with both feet on the floor and hands slightly above the knees. You can sit just with your legs crossed or knees bent, but it will be more difficult to keep your back in an even position; besides, the knees and lower back can get sick, and discomfort will distract you from meditation.
It is important to find a balance between relaxation and tonus. If you relax too much, you are likely to fall asleep while meditating before bed. And an uncomfortable posture can lead to muscle spasm. During meditation, you shouldn’t move, and it will seem impossible, because you will need to itch your arm, change the position of your hip, etc. Pretty soon, reaching the peak of discomfort, the body will submit to your control.
What are the main benefits of sleep meditation?
Some people find it difficult to relax after a hard day. It entails problems with falling asleep, a lack of quality rest at night, and, as a result, health problems. That is why it is important to find a way to help you get rid of such issues.
Besides fast falling asleep, there are a lot of other meditation before sleep benefits. It improves the emotional state and lowers the stress level by reducing the production of cortisol. It has been scientifically proven that meditation helps control anxiety disorders and fight depression and various addictions. And all this leads to an improvement in the quality of sleep.
Other ways to improve sleep
Despite many positive effects of meditation, remember that you should force yourself to do something you don’t like in no case. If you don’t feel the urge to meditate, here are ten tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Set a schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time and sleep for 6-8 hours a day.
- Develop a pre-sleep habit. Daily repetitions of the same actions before bedtime will serve as a trigger for your mind that it is time to go to bed. For example, take a warm shower or read a book.
- Balance your diet. Try not to overeat in the evenings. Otherwise, the body will digest food all night, and won’t rest. Try not to eat heavy food 4 hours before bedtime.
- Cut back on caffeine. At least 6 hours before bedtime, you need to stop eating foods that contain caffeine: coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.
- Do not drink alcohol before bedtime. Chemicals in alcohol disrupt the sleep cycle, preventing you from entering the deep sleep phase and stopping the brain from fully resting.
- Add a sport. Regular physical activity contributes to a better night’s sleep. Just remember that you should not play sport games right before bedtime.
- Choose comfortable bedding. If you wake up from sweating under a usual woolen blanket in the middle of the night, then it’s time to change it.
- Do not do work in bed. Put your gadgets aside; don’t watch TV or scroll the news feed. All this can reduce sleep quality because the brain will no longer associate the bed with sleep only.
- Prepare your room. Before going to bed, air the room or adjust the air conditioner to a more suitable temperature for sleeping. Create complete darkness: shutter windows, turn off the gadget backlight.
- Take daytime naps. Take breaks to sleep if you wake up early and feel tired during the day. Remember that they should not last longer than 45 minutes.
Feel free to use these tips, even if you like meditation. Quitting bad habits and maintaining good hygiene of sleep will never be superfluous.
Meditation to Fall Asleep FAQs
In this section, I have answered the most frequently asked questions about bedtime meditation. If, after reviewing them, something is not clear to you, do not hesitate to ask your questions in the comments section below the article.
How long should you meditate for?
A meditation session does not have to be long. I advise you to start with five minutes, of which only two should be devoted to meditation. A couple of minutes should be dedicated to preparing for the exercise; after meditation, you should spend another minute in silence. It’s best to do a little bit every day; it will be easier to form a habit. After a week, you can slightly increase the duration of the exercise. The average meditation time is about 20 minutes, but if your sessions are shorter or longer, it is also good. The main thing is to focus on your own feelings.
Be patient with yourself. Not everyone can fully concentrate on the first try; most people get distracted. It is completely normal; just go back to observing your feelings. The process of regaining attention is part of meditation. Over time, you will learn to notice the moment when your thoughts begin to wander, and you will be able to stop this process easily. This exercise trains the ability to concentrate and quickly switch attention from distractions and thoughts.
Why relaxing before bedtime is important?
Sleep is not just the rest of your physical body. It is a unique opportunity for the brain to process all the information received during the day, and for the cells to enter the phase of active updating. During sleep, the body checks the operation of all its systems.
For all these processes to proceed naturally, you must be able to relax and calm down before bedtime. Immersion in sleep should be gradual and consistent; such falling asleep will be most beneficial. Meditation as some kind of relaxation will help to cope with insomnia and other sleep problems, as it will reduce excessive emotional arousal after a hard day.
What is the easiest way to meditate?
While meditating to go to sleep, focusing your attention on some physical object is the easiest way. You do not need to visualize it in your imagination; you already have it before your eyes. For example, observe a candle flame. As it is dynamic and changes every second, it is easier to observe it than a stationary object.
If there are too many distracting visuals around you, close your eyes, and use the sound. Traditionally, mantras are used in meditation, but you can also include the sound of waves, it has the rhythm necessary for concentration. By the way, modern technologies can come to your aid. Many meditation apps offer the so-called guided variant of meditation.
The next largest object for fixed meditation is the sensation of your body. Concentrating on breathing, the tip of the nose, feelings throughout the body at once (it is called a “body scan”) is a little more difficult as it is easier to lose concentration.
Which type of meditation is the best?
There are many types and schools of meditation, and to learn them is impossible. Each of them requires a different level of training and skill. The best way to meditate is one that allows you to achieve your goals and brings pleasure. Different people like different styles.
Start with the simplest type and gradually complicate your activities, training the brain and the body. Focus on the object in front of you and watch it. If it is easier for you to meditate with your eyes closed, observe your own breathing. Your body is always with you: if you get used to observing your breath, it will be very easy for you to enter a meditative state at any time.
If all this is too easy for you, try to follow not the real object, but the imaginary one. For example, imagine a candle flame or mantra without seeing or hearing it. Keeping before your eyes even a simple object for several minutes is not easy.
Is it bad to meditate at night?
There is no wrong time for meditation. It all depends on the goals you want to reach. Besides, some people have irregular working hours. And for them, the nighttime is not sleeping time. On the whole, night time meditation is underestimated by most people since, during such an activity, it is easier to lose concentration and fall asleep.
Some practices can be really intense, and after such an activity, you will feel energetic and will not be able to fall asleep. However, if you use a calmer type of meditation, it will improve your sleep regardless of the time of day. If you feel that you are so tired that you are ready to sleep without meditation, do not force yourself to do it.
Can you meditate while lying in bed?
Many experts agree that the most optimal postures for meditation are the sitting ones. But lying meditation is also allowed. However, this requires you to concentrate more because, in this position, you are more relaxed and can fall asleep. An excellent way to prevent this is to meditate on the floor. Put a small pillow under your head and bend your legs a little to remove an excess load from the lower back, and feel the flat surface with your feet. Lying meditation is also necessary for those who, for whatever reason, experience pain or discomfort from prolonged sitting or standing.
Summarizing All the Above
Meditation before going to bed is a great way to calm your body and mind after hard work, distract yourself from negative thoughts, and prepare the brain for going to sleep. This practice will help you deal with insomnia and other sleep disorders in the long run. Exercise regularly, and the progress will not be long in coming. And in combination with other ways to improve your sleep, you will notice the result even faster.
Do you meditate before sleep? What type of meditation do you prefer? Maybe you keep a meditation diary and can share your progress with other readers?