- 10 Free Meditations to Encourage Restful Sleep
- Tara Brach, Vipassana (Basic) Meditation, 15 minutes
- Lisa Hubler, Healing Relaxation, 24 minutes
- Shawn Leahy, Cabin Retreat-Light Rain on Roof, 30 minutes
- Suparni Neuwirth, Yoga Nidra: Guided Meditation for a Deep Sleep and Relaxation, 7 minutes
- Pable Arellano, I See You Harp, 47 minutes
- Joshua Canter, Om Mani Padme Hum, 12 minutes
- Lisa Hubler, Deep Trance Sleep Healing, 60 minutes
- Tara Brach, Saying Yes to Life, 13 minutes
- Peder B. Hellend, The Sea, 25 minutes
- Cara Bradley, 1-Minute Grounding Meditation, 1:23
- 10 Steps To Achieve Peaceful Rest With Sleep Meditation
- Don’t rush it
- Just breathe
- Not all those who wander are lost
- Reverse psychology
- Permit yourself
- Turn it off
- Are you still awake?
- Better Sleep Through Meditation: 4 Techniques to Try Tonight
- A Simple Meditation For Better Sleep
- How to Fall Asleep Easily Through Guided Sleep Meditation
- Relaxation Exercises for Falling Asleep
- Sleep meditation: 10 steps to peaceful rest
- Step 1: Breathe
- Step 2: Take Your Time
- Step 3: Engage
- Step 4: Scale the Body
- Step 5: Just Breathe
- Step 6: All Those Who Wander are Not Lost
- Step 7: Reverse Psychology
- Step 8: Give Yourself Permission
- Step 9: Switch Off
- Step 10: Are You Asleep Yet?
10 Free Meditations to Encourage Restful Sleep
I really resisted getting into meditation. I thought it was too quiet, boring, and unproductive—I action. But I noticed the calm in people who meditated often, and I’d read how the brains of those who meditate become wired in ways that help us function better despite common stressors. Now I think that those of us who are wary of meditation are probably the ones who need it the most.
So I’ve meditated every day for 80 days now. This is—by far—my longest stretch, and I never thought I’d last this long.
I began meditating to handle some pretty intense stress, and after a couple of months, I noticed that my sleep had seriously improved: I fell asleep more quickly at night and stopped waking up in a panic.
A stress-induced skin rash I’d developed disappeared, and I was better able to manage difficult situations.
One thing that helped me get into it has been Insight Timer, an app that offers free access to hundreds of meditations and a way to track hours spent meditating. It’s been incredibly helpful for me. Here, I’ve rounded up some of the best free meditations I’ve used over the past 80 days for you to try out, some from Insight Timer and from other sources too.
My list includes meditations that are short, long, guided, unguided, by women and men, so you can find what works best for you. Some people want longer times for silence, while others find the long silences stressful and prefer guided meditations. Lack of time is a common reason people don’t meditate, so with that in mind, I’ve included a meditation as short as one minute.
Tara Brach, Vipassana (Basic) Meditation, 15 minutes
Insight Timer app or SoundCloud
Tara Brach’s soothing voice guides you through every step of this meditation. I think this one is excellent for a complete beginner because she reminds listeners not to worry if thoughts pass through their minds while trying to meditate. She invites us to compare our thoughts to the weather, noting that they’re both similarly passing. I’ve ended up returning to this meditation often.
Lisa Hubler, Healing Relaxation, 24 minutes
Insight Timer app
In one of Hubler’s bios, she mentions that her friends will ask her to talk to them on the phone so they can fall asleep more easily. I’m not surprised; her soothing voice may be her superpower.
At the start of this meditation, she invites us in for healing and relaxation. After this meditation, I was so relaxed that I felt I’d just received a massage.
My muscles felt loose, and I fell asleep easily.
Do These 4 Yoga Poses When You Can't Sleep
Shawn Leahy, Cabin Retreat-Light Rain on Roof, 30 minutes
Insight Timer app
This meditation opens with the sound of rain, which continues for 30 minutes. Recently, I played it and let myself drift off for a nap.
At one point, I woke up and felt anxious, but I focused my attention on the sound of the rain and quickly drifted back to sleep.
I’ve used this for both naps and evening sleep, and it works well in both cases. I’m always surprised by the good quality of the sound.
Suparni Neuwirth, Yoga Nidra: Guided Meditation for a Deep Sleep and Relaxation, 7 minutes
Yoga Nidra doesn’t require doing yoga. Instead, it’s often done lying down while a teacher guides you through relaxation methods. This video opens with deep breathing and asks you to position your body in a comfortable way before moving on to having you focus on areas of the body—right down to your individual toes and fingers—to release tension and promote sleep.
In this recording, you’ll hear peaceful instrumental music and a soothing voice to help you release tension, first on one side of your body and then the other. Once you learn these techniques, you can use them when you’re having trouble falling asleep, whether or not you have a teacher or recording to guide you.
Pable Arellano, I See You Harp, 47 minutes
Insight Timer app
Over the years, massage therapists would play background music featuring harps when working on me.
I knew the massage helped me sleep better, but what about the relaxing music? After I became comfortable with the basics of meditation, I decided to test harp music to see if it would help me improve my sleep. As expected, this music blocks out noise.
Secondly, it induced a relaxed state that helped to calm my mind. If you prefer to listen to music instead of words when heading to sleep, then this is a good recording to try.
Joshua Canter, Om Mani Padme Hum, 12 minutes
Insight Timer app
In The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche writes that reciting the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra helps “achieve perfection in the six practices, from generosity to wisdom.
” Chanting along to this isn’t required, of course, but doing so can relax your body, and I found that the act of chanting focused my mind—fewer random thoughts raced through my head—and the minutes passed by quickly.
With my first try, I didn’t always follow the voice or tune properly, but that didn’t matter. By the end, I felt more focused than I had earlier and was better able to sleep.
Lisa Hubler, Deep Trance Sleep Healing, 60 minutes
Insight Timer app
One night, my daughter couldn’t fall asleep, but we both had to be up early the next day. She asked if she could try the meditations I’m always talking about. I first played Hubler’s “Healing Relaxation,” mentioned above, and my daughter d how Hubler’s calm speaking voice kept thoughts at bay—but she didn’t fall asleep.
This longer meditation includes relaxation techniques that ask us to focus on an area of our body and release tension there. As the meditation progresses, we’re invited to relax areas we previously relaxed in order to enter a deeper state of calm. My daughter and I both fell asleep quickly.
Tara Brach, Saying Yes to Life, 13 minutes
I started using this particular meditation because it was short and I was impatient.
Brach’s website describes this as guided practice that invites you to awaken a “relaxed and friendly attention that rests in the breath and opens to whatever is arising.
” In many of her meditations, she advises us to observe what arises—thoughts or emotions—without becoming entangled in them. I appreciate Brach teaching that we can note a thought’s appearance and simply let it go.
Peder B. Hellend, The Sea, 25 minutes
I found this after Googling “relaxing harp music.” I wanted to see if I would it and felt experimenting, and I’m glad I did. In my experience, finding ways to de-stress throughout the day means I’ll have an easier time getting to bed at night. Since this music is instrumental, I use it both as a way to help me fall asleep and as a way to provide calm during my workday.
Cara Bradley, 1-Minute Grounding Meditation, 1:23
In this video, Bradley sits on a fallen tree trunk in Valley Forge National Park and shares a meditation and brief “how-to.” If you’re new to meditation, this provides an introduction to the basics and shows you how you can regain calm even if you only have a short period of time.
I once thought I couldn’t take time for meditation, but I think I was overcomplicating the idea by thinking I needed certain tools or lots of time. Meditation can take a minute and doesn’t have to require special materials.
The other day, I spent 90 seconds standing outside my car in a parking lot feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.
These small moments of joy are everywhere, and once you learn these basic techniques, you’ll have a repeatable way to gain calm anywhere.
Deborah Ager is a writer, marketer, and terrible yogi. She’s a business book ghostwriter and founded her company to help business leaders become known. Connect with her on @deborahager1.
10 Steps To Achieve Peaceful Rest With Sleep Meditation
Whether you realized it or not, most of you have faced sleep deprivation in your life. Getting enough sleep is very crucial as it can benefit your lives in so many ways including being more fruitful and wide awake.
But, if you don’t get enough rest, it will turn your life upside down. You can suffer from chronic pain, sickness, and even obesity just because of not getting enough sleep.
To avoid this problem, here are 10 steps to achieve peaceful rest with sleep meditation.
Once you are comfortable lying on your bed, take some time to concentrate on your breathing. Try deep inhaling and exhaling for five times. Focus on how the air moves in and your lungs. This helps you to release any tension and stress from the day you had.
Don’t rush it
You would never fall asleep if you keep on looking and racing against the clock. Taking your time to relax will hugely improve your sleep quality. Pay attention to how soft the sheets feel, how your body rests against them and the overworking thoughts that fill your head.
Engross yourself with your surroundings. Think about how the room feels around you. Is there any sound? Can you remove the noise from your head? Can you change the brightness of your room to make it darker? Can you let go of all of your thoughts that annoy you? Find out what is preventing you from relaxing.
Use your imagination to move around your body, part by part, and focusing on how it feels. If it’s stiff, try to relax it. If it’s relaxed, enjoy it. Start scaling your body from head to your toes. Take about 20 seconds on each part. It may seem complicated, but very effective at changing your focus to something else.
Don’t think about how or when you should breathe. Don’t make it complicated. Instead, focus on the area of your body where the rise and fall of your breath happens. The rhythm might change as you start to focus on it. It’s not a big deal as its normal. Just keep on doing it.
Not all those who wander are lost
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to breathe when trying to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t be so firm when your mind wants to wander. Just acknowledge it and bring it back to focus on the rise and fall of your breathing. You can increase your focus by paying attention to the lifting and falling of your stomach.
Practice to retrace your day before going to sleep. Take a mental walk through your day starting from where you are at that moment until the very first moment you opened your eyes that same day. Recounting your day from the end to the start might be difficult. However, this backward exercise will make your brain stay on track and do its task.
Permit yourself to go to sleep once you’re satisfied with the day you had. Start off with one small part of your body and move to the rest of it. If your mind still wandering, try deep breathing and focus on the rise and fall again. It will stop the thoughts from interrupting you from falling asleep.
Turn it off
Take the control to put an end to the day and enable your body to relax. If you woke up and didn’t want to move your body because of how comfortable you were, then that’s how great it feels to be fully relaxed. That’s your goal.
Are you still awake?
If you fell asleep before making to this tenth step, good for you. But if you are still struggling, make time to figure out which work for you. Try to reduce your activity before bed, take a hot bath or shower and eat lots of protein so your body can repair and recover throughout the night.
Better Sleep Through Meditation: 4 Techniques to Try Tonight
Moving to the desert may also help, but visualizing a peaceful scene is a good start.MasterfileAnyone who's ever experienced a fitful night of sleep knows that “just relax” is easier said than done. But do-it-yourself meditation practices may help you prepare for rest, and put worries or discomfort behind you.
These techniques work best when done right before bed, in a quiet, calming environment. But you can also practice them several times a day, recommends Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine.
“If you can keep your stress levels under control during the day, you'll sleep better at night,” Walsleben says. “You can even do them at your desk or on the train.”
Breathing from the abdomen and putting your attention on those breaths can help you relax both during the day and in bed at night. Some people may enjoy lying in a dimly lit room, closing their eyes, or listening to soft music while focusing on their out breaths.
More techniques for better sleep
While sitting or lying in bed, try placing your hands on your belly.
“When you breathe in and breathe out, your hands may gently move,” says Kathy Doner, MD, who has a full-time hypnotherapy practice in Sebastian, Fla.
“Focusing on this movement gets your mind off of your busy thoughts and onto your body. You can distract yourself and bring yourself to a different place. It's very calming.”
Next Page: Guided imagery [ pagebreak ]Guided imagery
Some people imagine a calm scene to help them wind down at the end of the day. There are no rules about what you should imagine, so long as it's calming. Although clouds, the ocean, and mountains are common choices, you can focus on something as general or as specific as you want.
“I had a patient who d to picture his office—brushing everything off his desk and going to sleep,” Walsleben says. “Other people enjoy visualizing that they're blowing bubbles. They put the stick in the jar and watch every bubble go over a field until the jar is empty.”
Pick a place that feels safe, and, using your imagination, invite any or all of your senses to explore it. “The brain doesn't always know the difference between pretend and real,” says Dr. Doner. “If you watch a scary movie, your adrenaline might go up, just as if you imagine eating something vividly enough, you might start to salivate.”
Guided imagery can be done alone or with a specialist, such as a sleep doctor, cognitive-behavioral therapist, or hypnotherapist, or by using a tape or CD—but even when prompted by an instructor, the patient should still be the guide. “They need to imagine someplace comfortable and peaceful,” says Dr. Doner. “I don't know where they need to go; the ocean may seem peaceful for one person, but traumatic for another.”
Focusing on different aspects of your life before bed can help you earn your rest, if you're able to let those thoughts go. “You need to look at one thing at a time, which slows things down,” says Walsleben. “Focus on an issue in your life, then let it go. The major learning experience here is letting go.”
For some people, it may help to write in a journal during the day. “For 15 minutes take those issues that run through your head at night and write them down,” says Walsleben. “Then for the next 15 minutes make a plan and write that down too. At night when the lights are off, you can't do anything about it, but by processing things in the daytime, you can.”
While lying in bed, start by gazing upward. “A little eye strain relaxes you,” says Dr. Doner. Take an abdominal breath and hold it, and on the out breath, let everything relax.
Repeat one or two times.
You might then try imagining yourself walking down a flight of stairs or a gentle hill while counting down from 10 or 20, each number signifying your movement to a lower step, exhaling with each imaginary step.
You can also weave a number of these techniques together, Dr. Doner says. “You might start with your belly breath,” she says, “then go to progressive relaxation, then down the stairs, then go to your peaceful place. You want to give people a lot of things to try.”
A Simple Meditation For Better Sleep
It’s no secret that meditation can help us sleep better. There are some specific meditative exercises that can help us nod off when our minds are in overdrive.
In the exercise below, the meditation experts at Headspace share some insight for feeling more at ease when your head hits the pillow.
Remember, this is not an exercise to make you go to sleep, but rather to increase your awareness and understanding of your mind at night. It just so happens that it often results in sleep.
Once you’re lying comfortably in bed, take five deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you breathe in, try to get a sense of the lungs filling with air and the chest expanding.
As you breathe out, imagine the thoughts and feelings of the day just disappearing into the distance, and any feelings of tension in the body just melting away. This will help to prepare both the body and the mind for the exercise ahead.
Begin by checking-in — how you’re feeling –in both body and mind. Remember that in the same way you can’t rush relaxation, you cannot rush sleep, so take your time with this part of the exercise.
Don’t worry if there are lots of thoughts whizzing around (this is absolutely normal). For now, just let them do their own thing.
Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to resist the thoughts, no matter how unsettling or uncomfortable they may be.
Next, become aware of the physical points of contact in a little bit more detail. Bring your attention back to the sensation of the body touching the bed, the weight of the body sinking down into the mattress. Notice where the points of contact are strongest -– is the weight distributed evenly? You can also notice any sounds or other sensations.
Sounds can be especially disturbing when you’re trying to go to sleep. At first it’s helpful to recognize whether it’s a sound you can change, or if it’s something outside of your control, something you can do nothing about.
Then, rather than resisting the sound, gently rest your attention on it, remaining present with the sound for 30 seconds or so, before bringing your attention back to the body.
Now try to get a sense of how the body actually feels. At first, do this in a general way. For example, does the body feel heavy or light, restless or still? Then try to get a more accurate picture by mentally scanning down through the body, from head to toe, gently observing any tension or tightness.
Invariably, the mind will be drawn to areas of tension, but you can relax in the knowledge that you are about to sleep and that the exercise will help to release those areas. You can do this scan several times, taking about 20 to 30 seconds each time.
Remember to notice the areas that feel relaxed and comfortable, as well as any areas of discomfort.
By now you will have probably already noticed the rising and falling sensation of the breath, but if you haven’t, just bring your attention to that place in the body where you feel the movement most clearly.
As always, don’t try to change the rhythm of the breath in any way, instead allow the body to do its own thing. There is no right or wrong way to breathe within the context of this exercise, so don’t worry if you feel it more in the chest than the stomach.
Notice whether the breath is deep or shallow, long or short, smooth or irregular.
As you watch the breath for a minute or two, it’s quite normal for the mind to wander off.
When you realize you’ve been distracted, that the mind has wandered off, in that moment you are back in the present, and all you need do is gently return the focus to the rising and falling sensation.
You don’t need to time this part of the exercise, you can just naturally move on to the next section when it feels as if a couple of minutes has passed.
This next part of the exercise is about thinking back through the day in a focused and structured way. Begin by thinking back to the very first moment you can remember in the day, right after waking up in the morning.
Do you remember how you felt upon waking? Now, as if your brain has been set to a very gentle “fast-forward,” simply watch as your mind replays the events, meetings and conversations of the day.
This doesn’t need to be in detail, it’s more of an overview, a series of snapshots passing through the mind.
Take about three minutes to go through the entire day, right up to the present moment. It might seem a lot to fit into just a few minutes, but as I say, this is only an overview of the day, so don’t take any longer than three or four minutes. After a couple of days you’ll no doubt feel comfortable with the speed of it.
As the mind replays the day, there is the inevitable temptation to jump in and get caught up in the thinking. It’s normal for the mind to wander this at first, but obviously it’s not helpful to get involved in new thinking at this time of night. So, as before, when you realize you’ve been distracted, gently return to the film playing back in your mind and pick up where you left off.
Step 8 Having brought yourself up to the present moment, you can now return your focus to the body. Place your attention on the small toe of the left foot and imagine that you’re just switching it off for the night. You can even repeat the words
“switch off” or “and rest” in your mind as you focus on the toe. It’s as if you’re giving the muscles, joints, bones and everything else permission to switch off for the night, knowing they will not be needed again until the morning.
Do the same with the next toe, and the next, and so on. Continue in this way through the ball of the foot, the arch, the heel, the ankle, the lower half of the leg and so on all the way up to the hip and pelvic area.
Before you repeat this exercise with the right leg, take a moment to notice the difference in the feeling between the leg that has been “switched off” and the one that hasn’t.
If there was any doubt in your mind about whether anything was actually happening as you do this exercise, you’ll feel it now.
Repeat the same exercise on the right leg, once again starting with the toes and working your way all the way up to the waist.
Continue this exercise up through the torso, down through the arms, hands and fingers, and up through the throat, neck, face and head.
Take a moment to enjoy the sensation of being free of tension, of not needing to do anything with the body, of having given up control.
You can now allow the mind to wander as much as it wants, freely associating from one thought to the next, no matter where it wants to go, until you drift off to sleep.*
*It’s quite possible that by the time you’ve reached this point in the exercise you will be fast asleep. If you are, enjoy the rest and sleep well. Don’t worry if you’re not asleep though — it’s not that you’ve done the exercise incorrectly. Remember that it’s not an exercise to make you go to sleep, but rather an exercise to increase your awareness and understanding of your mind at night.
Want more tips on how to make meditation part of your day? Headspace is meditation made simple, accessible and relevant to your everyday life. Sign up for the free Take10 program to get the basics just right with guided audio programs and support to get your Headspace, anytime, anywhere on the Headspace app.
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For more on meditation, click here.
How to Fall Asleep Easily Through Guided Sleep Meditation
Getty / Olix Wirtinger/Corbis/VCG
Guided sleep meditation is a method for helping you to let go of worrying thoughts and relax your body before bed.
other forms of meditation, this practice involves moving your focus away from your mind to sensations in your body.
Regular practice of guided sleep meditation has been shown to improve sleep, meaning that this method is an important strategy that you can use to help reduce problems falling and staying asleep.
According to the American Sleep Association, around 30 percent of adults have short-term problems with insomnia, and about 10 percent have chronic difficulties with falling and/or staying asleep.
What's more, around a third of adults report typically getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
Given that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function best, and teenagers need even more (8 to 10 hours), it's not surprising that methods for improving sleep are becoming more well-known.
Better sleep can contribute to lowering stress and an improved immune system. However, achieving restful sleep can be hard if you are battling stress and anxiety—it can be simply hard to quiet your mind. Many issues around sleep begin with your thinking processes at night. This is where guided sleep meditation can help.
In simple terms, guided sleep meditation involves meditating before sleep, typically while you are laying in bed. While you can practice sleep meditation on your own, guided practice usually means that you listen to an audio recording that directs you through the steps of the guided sleep meditation.
The goal of guided sleep meditation is to reduce the impact of worrying thoughts and tension in your body on your sleep. By learning how to shift your focus and relax your body, you will start to notice improvements in your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Meditation helps you to move outside your head to be in the present moment. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, it's ly that thoughts you were suppressed during the day all of a sudden start to swirl in your mind. Without any outside distractions, it can be hard to control runaway thoughts that may lead to anxiety and depression.
Guided sleep meditation allows you to let go of the thoughts that are swirling and to rest your mind. In turn, this activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to lower your heart rate and slow down your breathing rate. All of these changes prepare you for sleep—you may even find yourself drifting off to sleep in the middle of the meditation practice.
It's important to note that guided sleep meditation is not about forcing yourself to sleep. Sleep should be a side benefit of the practice, which is aimed at relaxing your body and slowing your mind.
You should also notice daytime benefits of doing guided sleep practice, since getting enough sleep at night is related to how you feel during the day.
The best guided sleep meditations will involve you following along with an audio guide that you can play on headphones or on a small speaker beside your bed. The goal is to not have to think too much about what you are doing—rather, you let yourself be guided by the voice on the recording.
Over time, you should find it easier to jump into the meditation and follow the prompts. So, don't give up too early if you find at first that you can't calm down or relax when doing the meditation.
If you wish to follow a guided meditation, find an audio recording that you can use such as the ones provided by UCLA.
A typical guided sleep meditation will have you redirecting your attention away from your worried thoughts toward your body through what is called a “body scan.” This process involves letting go of thoughts and noticing the sensations in your body, without trying to change them.
During the meditation, you will move through the various parts of your body from your head down to your toes, noticing different sensations such as heaviness, tension, tingling, temperature, and tightness. As you move through each body part, you will be instructed to gently relax and release tension by breathing into that part.
You will also be directed to let your worrying thoughts (or any thoughts that you have) move past you as though they are clouds floating in the sky or leaves floating down a river. As you do this, your body will start to soften and relax and you will breathe more deeply.
In addition to the body scan, guided sleep meditation can involve the following:
- Breathing exercise: For example, you might be asked to count as you breathe in and out, which allows your body to slow down and sends the signal that it is time to sleep.
- Visualization: Through visualization, you would imagine a peaceful scene, which would help you enter a trance- state similar to what is induced in the process of hypnosis.
- Gratitude: A meditation focused on gratitude would have you practice a focus on being grateful and showing loving kindness to yourself.
In a 2015 study published in JAMA, it was shown that mindfulness meditation was more effective for improving sleep than a sleep hygiene intervention with 49 older adults. The mindful awareness practice (MAP) intervention that was used took place over six weeks for two hours each week.
It was also found that the effects on sleep carried over into daytime issues, with fatigue and depression being reduced. While this is a small initial study, it suggests that guided sleep meditation may be more effective than sleep hygiene practices alone (e.g., going to bed at a certain time each night, not using electronics before bed).
Below are some simple sleep hygiene practices that you can use in addition to guided sleep meditation:
- Limit the use of blue-light devices in the last hour before bed, such as cell phones and computers.
- Go to bed at the same time each night and force yourself to get up at the same time each morning.
- Purchase a special light that mimics sunlight to help you wake up at a certain time.
- Use dark blinds to make your room dark if you need to go to bed at odd hours.
- Maintain a cooler temperature in your room for better sleep.
- Minimize sound in your bedroom other than white noise.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day.
- Get regular exercise such as walking or practicing yoga.
- Wear comfortable pajamas cotton that are breathable.
- Keep a gratitude journal before bed.
Guided sleep meditation can be helpful if you live with insomnia. In addition to practicing meditation, ensure that your sleep hygiene is in place to allow for restful sleep. If you still find that anxiety plagues you at night, traditional treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication might be helpful.
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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Additional Reading
- Headspace. Meditation for sleep.
- Neuendorf R, Wahbeh H, Chamine I, Yu J, Hutchison K, Oken BS. The effects of mind-body interventions on sleep quality: A systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/902708
- UCLA Semel Institute, Mindful Awareness Research Center. Body scan for sleep.
Relaxation Exercises for Falling Asleep
If you have trouble falling asleep, relaxation techniques can help you quiet your mind and calm your body. Try one of these simple exercises when you’re in bed.
Close your eyes and notice your breathing. Turn all your attention to your natural breathing pattern and feel the air enter and leave your nose or mouth. Visualize the flow of air as it passes through your mouth, airways, down into your belly, and back out again.
Survey your body for any tension, and as you exhale, feel the tension leave that part of your body. Visualize your breath reaching your forehead, your neck, your shoulders, your arms… and then releasing the tension as you exhale.
If your mind wanders to another worry or thought, let it go and gently redirect your attention back to your breath.
The idea in this exercise is to focus your attention on an image or story, so that your mind can let go of worries or thoughts that keep you awake.
Get into a comfortable position in bed. Close your eyes and relax. Begin to visualize a scene, memory, or story that you find calming. This is highly individual—find what works best for you by trying a few choices.
For example: a favorite vacation or calming outdoor spot, a relaxing activity curling up with a book in your favorite chair, or something repetitive remembering the steps of an exercise or dance routine. The key is to find something that allows you to focus your attention and let go of other thoughts.
Begin to create this scenario in your mind. Visualize all the details of the image or story, as slowly and carefully as you can. Any time you find your mind drifting to an unrelated thought (a worry about the day or a “must do” for tomorrow), acknowledge it and let it go.
Turn your mind’s eye back to your relaxing story. It’s okay if this takes time before it works, each time you practice you will get better at it.
Remember to follow these additional tips if you have difficulty sleeping:
- Turn off electronics and rotate your clock away from you (don’t watch the clock or check your phone if you can’t sleep). Try not to worry if you can’t fall asleep, and remind yourself that your body will eventually take over and help you sleep.
- If you are awake for more than 20 minutes in bed, move to a different part of the house (one without bright lights). Do something relaxing for a while, until you begin to feel tired and come back to bed.
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Sleep meditation: 10 steps to peaceful rest
So you want to learn how to get a better night’s sleep? You are not alone.
Millions of people around the world are sleep deprived and they don’t even realize it. Getting a good night’s sleep can impact your life in many ways including being more productive and alert.
It can also impact your life in a negative way if you don’t get enough rest each night. Many people suffer from chronic pain, disease, and even obesity as a result of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
It’s a powerful thing!
So today we’re going to bring to you a sleep meditation you can use to get a peaceful night’s rest.
Here are 10 steps you can take:
Step 1: Breathe
After you have settled yourself in your bed, take a few moments and focus on your breathing.
Try breathing five big, deep breaths in and out. Pay attention to how the air feels moving in and your lungs.
Paying attention to how your body feels is important as you release any tension and stress from the day during your breathing exercise.
Step 2: Take Your Time
While you might feel you are racing against the clock to fall asleep, taking the time to get it right can greatly improve your sleep quality.
Take time to pay attention to how the sheets feel, how your body rests against them, and the thoughts that are filling your head.
Step 3: Engage
When you settle into your bed, consider how the room feels around you. How does it sound? Is there noise that can be removed? Can you make the room darker? Can you release the thoughts hounding you?
What is happening with your state that is preventing you from relaxing?
Step 4: Scale the Body
With your imagination make your way around your body from part to party focusing on how each part of your body feels. If it is tense, try to relax it.
If it is relaxed, enjoy. Move from the top of your head to your toes, focusing on each part of your body for about 20 seconds.
This might seem a lot of work, but it is a helpful exercise in focusing your thoughts on something other than the stressful day you had.
Step 5: Just Breathe
Don’t worry about how or when you breathe. Just breathe. Pay attention to where the rise and fall of your breathe occurs and give that area of your body your focus for a short period of time.
You might notice that the rhythm of your breathing changes as you start to pay attention to it – that’s normal, so just continue with the exercise.
Step 6: All Those Who Wander are Not Lost
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to breathe when you are trying to relax yourself into a good night’s sleep.
If your mind wants to wander, acknowledge the effort, and the redirect it back to the rise and fall of your breathing.
If your stomach is lifting and falling with each breathe, pay attention to that. It will help combat the messages your brain is trying to process and hijack your sleep with.
Step 7: Reverse Psychology
An important part of preparing for bed is to retrace your steps for the day to remind yourself of everything you have to be thankful for in your life.
Starting where you are as you prepare for sleep, take mental walk through your day all the way back to the very first moment you opened your eyes that same day.
You might find this difficult to do because we are used to recounting our days from the start, but the backward exercise will ensure your brain doesn’t wander too far from its task.
Step 8: Give Yourself Permission
As you start to feel good about the day you just lived, give yourself permission to go to sleep. Start with one small part of your body and work your way around the entirety of your body and allow yourself the space to fall asleep.
If you continue working through thoughts of the day, try deep breathing again to focus on the rise and fall to stop the thoughts from preventing you from falling asleep.
Step 9: Switch Off
As you make your way around to each part of your body, pronounce the day done and allow your body to relax.
Does one leg feel different than the other when it’s turned off for the day? If you have ever woke up feeling you didn’t want to move your body because you were so comfortable than you know how great it feels to be fully relaxed. That’s the goal.
Step 10: Are You Asleep Yet?
It’s every bit possible that you might not even make it to the tenth step in this restful sleep exercise. If you fell asleep already, good for you.
If you are still struggling, give yourself time to figure out what is going to work for you. Don’t forget to try reducing your activity before bed, taking a hot bath or shower, and eating some protein to help your body repair and recover throughout the night.
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