Did you know you can get a better night’s rest by using guided meditation for sleep.
Many people have trouble with sleep at some point in their lives, it’s just part of the human experience.
The anxieties, stresses and distractions of modern life mean that often, when our heads hit the pillow, we start to ruminate on all that has happened during the day and all that has to be done tomorrow.
That said, there are ways to optimize your sleep health and get some quality shut eye, and they don’t just involve counting sheep!
The best way to transform your sleep quality is to take a holistic approach. That means focusing on your sleep health as much as your day to day health.
Getting lots of exercise, fresh air and eating a balanced, varied and healthy nutritious diet is paramount to your sleep quality. The problem is sometimes we get caught in a vicious cycle. Sleep deprivation means you wake up groggy, less inspired, less motivated and probably craving food that is high in salt or sugar to make you feel better. You might take too much caffeine that day to compensate for your tiredness, or choose a sugary treat for your afternoon pick-me-up and then you end up wide awake in bed again that night with the same problem.
We’ve definitely all been there. Sleep anxiety is totally normal.
One way to break the bad-sleep cycle fast is with guided meditation [here is how to use meditation for sleep].
When you add a specific sleep meditation to your calming, pre-bedtime ritual, you start to change the way your body physically and emotionally copes with relaxing and preparing for sleep.
It’s important to not get too caught up in a narrative of being a “ bad sleeper” or someone who needs a certain amount of hours to feel ok. While this may seem true for you, it’s a good idea to not cling too tightly to your preconceived ideas of what sleep means to you.
That’s because when you develop an obsession with things having to be a certain way, you make it even harder for yourself to drift off. Having anxiety about sleep can be one of the main causes of insomnia! Your stressful thoughts and worries about how many hours until morning and the sound of the alarm clock can just perpetuate the cycle.
In short, the best thing you can do is chill out, surrender to what is and learn to take care of your sleep health on a regular basis in order to secure better habits and sleep health in the long run.
Guided Meditation for improved Sleep (script)
- It’s best to do this guided meditation for sleep when lying down, ready to doze off.
- First take some deep breaths. Inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Do this 5 or 6 times. As you lie there, feel a sense of the day dissipating with each exhale. As though your tension is being released.
- Take a moment to appreciate the bed you are in, feel supported by the mattress and comforted by the pillows and blankets. Bask in this appreciation as you breathe.
- You are going to begin with a brief body scan, getting a sense of how your body feels.
- Do you have tension or pain anywhere? Is there a sense of tightness or clinging? Without judgement and without getting caught up in why, let yourself observe your body. Remember you are not controlling anything, you are observing peacefully.
- Start mentally scanning down from the top of your head all the way to your toes.
- Allow yourself 20 to 30 seconds in each area of the body. Gently acknowledging the tension or lightness, and moving on.
- Next, focus on your breath again. You will probably have become aware of it as you lie here, tapping into the rhythmic rise and fall. Let your mind drift to it now.
- Focus your attention on that still moment between breaths. The moment that exists between the inhalation and the exhalation, and between the exhalation and the inhalation.
- Let your mind be drawn to that stillness. That peace and tranquility. Rest here for a few moments.
- Now, you are going to scan back through your body, but slower this time.
- Placing your attention on each part of your body and mennally telling it to switch off now, and go to sleep.
- So begin with your toes. Tell your toes to sleep, or rest now. Imagine that you are giving permission to every single muscle, bone, joint and cell in your body to just relax now as you prepare for sleep.
- Repeat this as you travel mentally up your body. Through the arch of your foot and your ankles,your calves, knees, thighs, all the way up to your hips and pelvis. And continue, through your stomach, ribcage, chest area, each arm, hands, shoulders neck, throat, face and head.
- You can be as detailed as you like.
- The important thing is to send the message to your body that it is time to let go now, relax and sleep.
- When you have finished with this part of the exercise, and if you are still awake, bask in the feeling of having no tension. Let yourself feel totally relaxed, sinking into the bed as you drift off into sleep, allowing the mind to do as it wishes.
- Use this guided meditation for sleep tonight and you will get a restorative night’s rest.
Here are some of my top wind-down activities that prepare you for meditation and sleep.
Listen to calming music – You can change the energy in the room with sound. Play some soothing, peaceful music before getting into bed and you can transform your frame of mind. Music can also help you to relax any busy thoughts before meditation.
A warm bath – It’s a cliche for a reason. Relaxing your muscles in warm, (not too hot) water can bring you right into the relaxed state needed for meditation and sleep. Add some essential oils to complete the experience.
Read a book – We all know that too much screen time is detrimental and never more so before bed. It’s a great idea to return to the ancient art of reading a paperback (remember those?) you don’t need to scroll social media one last time before closing your eyes. Try putting your phone outside your room and buying an old fashioned alarm clock. You’ll notice the difference.
Restorative Yoga -Taking the time for a few soothing yoga poses before bedtime can make all the difference. Stretching out your muscles after a long day is always good, but not only that, yoga encourages deep, healthy breathing and releases stored tension.
Incorporating any or all of the above into your wind down routine will bring you positive benefits. Add to these a regular sleep meditation and you will feel the difference immediately. There are lots of variations on sleep meditations, you can try a guided visualization or sound meditation, or perhaps you’re interested in one of the brain entrainment programs such as Hemi Sync, see our review on Kensho Way.
Below, I am including one of my favorite forms of sleep meditation and I recommend you try it
Once you are actually lying down in bed and see how easy it is to drift away, relax and wake up refreshed. Try to not think of this meditation as a way to get to sleep, but more as a way to train your mind into preparing for sleep. That way, if you are still awake at the end you won’t start to berate yourself! You are doing great work by taking the time to focus on your sleep health and to increase your awareness and understanding of your mind at night.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison