Should you meditate before bed? As a meditation teacher a lot of people ask me that question. And It’s a good one.
Meditation is in many ways the total opposite of going to sleep. When you meditate you actually become more conscious than you are at most other times. After all, one of the main reasons people meditate is specifically to heighten their consciousness. There are even meditation techniques to make you conscious while you sleep, like when you have a lucid dream [READ: Tibetan Dream Yoga For Lucid Dreaming].
Sleep, on the other hand, is when you drift out of consciousness. In this way, meditation and sleep are opposite.
They do, however, share one important thing in common: meditation helps you to relax. So, when you meditate before bed you are relaxed and ready to go to sleep.
What gives? Does meditation help or hurt sleep?
In my experience, meditation definitely will help you to get a good night’s sleep. I’ve even written a guide to help you use meditation to get to sleep.
I’ve personally been using meditation before bed for many, many years. It started when I had insomnia in university. I would lie in bed all night not able to sleep at all, and then wake up in the morning looking like some hideous zombie right out a George. A Romero movie (the director who made the Living Dead series of flicks).
When I started meditating before bed, at first, it didn’t work. Meditating raised my consciousness and actually made me more awake than I normally was. It actually made me acutely aware of my insomnia. I would be very aware of things like the heaviness of my eyelids and the aches in my body. I actually felt worse when meditated before bed.
Then I changed one thing: I started meditating one hour before bed. This totally changed my world. When I meditated an hour before bed, the meditation slowed my mind down and helped me to stop thinking, which of course help with sleep. But it didn’t prevent me from drifting off once I got into bed.
This one simple little change cured my insomnia.
Now I’m a meditation teacher I’ve learned all sorts of mistakes that I used to make when I meditated. So let me enlighten you about a few ground rules for meditating before bed.
Rules For Meditating Before Bed Time
1: Leave at least an hour between meditation and sleep
If you meditate while trying to sleep, you will more than likely prevent yourself from sleeping. The reason is that meditation heightens your awareness levels and raises your consciousness. This is counterproductive to dozing off and catching those Zzzzzz’s.
Leave at least one hour between meditation and sleep. This is crucial. One hour before bed, meditate so you relax and unwind. Then completely stop meditating, go and do something else, like reading or something else that is relaxing. Then hit the bed. This will stop your racing thoughts, relax your mind and body, and then let you drift off into sleep.
2: Stick to relaxing meditations before bed
Some meditations are designed to release your emotions. Some meditations are deep. And those are not the best types of meditation before bed. Instead, focus on some relaxing meditation techniques.
Your spoilt for choice here. You could go for a Zen Walk or do some gentle movement meditations. But my number one pick has to be these gentle breathing meditations.
3: If you meditate in bed, lie down the right way
A lot of people like to meditate in bed lying down. Hey, I get that. It’s been a long day. Your legs are tired. You want to relax. And beside, those pillow just look too darned comfy. No sweat. Meditate in bed. Just do it the right way.
There is a right way and a wrong way to meditate in bed. My guide to meditating while lying down will help you get it right.
4: After meditating, do something relaxing but distracting
After meditating, before bed, do something to relax but also distract your mind. You don’t want to stay in the heightened state of awareness you created when you meditated. You want your mind to start to drift off gradually. That’s why it’s best to do something that is relaxing but also distracting. My favorite thing to do between meditation and bed is to read a book.
And that is how to meditate before bed.
Meditating before bed will definitely help you to get to sleep at night. Just remember to leave an hour between meditating and going to bed.