Getting enough quality sleep is the biggest challenge that all of us will ever experience. We know how frustrating that can be, so it is about time that you try looking for ways on how to finally achieve a good night’s sleep. You may have already tried counting sheep, drinking a glass of wine, or playing lullabies. But have you tried meditating before going to sleep?
Think about this:
You are having a hard tune falling asleep because of two things. It is either you are anxious, or your mind continues to wander and wonder, no matter how tired your body already is. Meditation comes into the picture. According to EOC Institute, this simple activity can change our thought patterns. This is because it requires focus, allowing you to focus on your inner stillness. As a result, it would be easier for you to ignore the random thoughts that are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
But is this really true? Should you do meditation before bed? Well, that is one question that we will answer in this article. Continue reading to find out!
Should You Meditate Before Bed?
This is, of course, the biggest question of all. To answer this, we have to determine if this activity is beneficial or not. According to our research, it comes with both pros and cons, and we will discuss that in detail in the next few sections.
Why You Should Meditate Before You Go to Sleep
Based on our research, meditation before bed comes with a few benefits. Here are some of them:
Meditation preps your body and mind for rest.
A long day can be tiring to your body, but when you hit the bed, your mind will prevent you from taking a rest. Meditation puts your mind and is the best way to send your body both emotional and physical signals that it is time to sleep.
You see, meditation can trigger a parasympathetic response that will cause your mind and body to slow down. This will help your body to go through sleep cycles and achieve good quality sleep.
With meditation, you will be able to train your body to recognize this relaxing habit as near sleeping time so you will be in sleeping mode when you lie on your bed.
Meditation before bed provides you the capability to separate different times in your day.
Yes, mornings and afternoons are for work, school, thinking, and stressing out. But the evenings—that you should reserve for rest, relaxation and bonding. But does your mind recognize that? Of course not.
A lot of people (you and I included) will have a difficult time letting their thoughts go at the end of the day. In fact, we tend to get anxious the most come night time.
Meditation gives you the perfect opportunity to gather your thoughts. And at the same time, it will equip you with the capability to let all of your worries, emotions, and thoughts go.
Meditation promotes focus and calmness.
The fast-paced lives that we live in can cause unwanted stress on our bodies and minds. One of the most well-known benefits of meditation is it can ease anxiety and ultimately, prevent the development of depressive symptoms.
This is, again, due to the fact that meditation can boost the parasympathetic nervous system which is critical in regulating your energy level, digestive, sleep, and immune functions.
Moreover, the main thing that meditation teaches you to quiet your mind. When your fear and worries start to creep into your mind, the practice of meditation will help you to detach yourself from all of those emotions and thoughts.
Meditation helps alleviate physical tension.
Regardless of what work you have, you will experience muscle tension at one point in your day. This is described as a condition wherein your muscles are contracted for an extended period. When you leave this condition untreated, it may lead to bigger problems like back pain.
Different meditation techniques, specifically guided meditation, help you to connect with the different parts of your body. In these meditation styles, you will be required to feel the weight of your body as you sit or lie down or to control and be mindful of your breathing.
These simple activities can help cause muscle relaxation and improve blood circulation. This increases the blood flow to the different parts of your body which may result in higher oxygen levels in the brain and muscles. This will remove clogging in the tissues, allowing the muscles to move freely and properly function.
While muscular tension is a physical manifestation, you should understand that this condition is often caused by stress and since meditation can help alleviate stress, meditating before bed can certainly be beneficial for you.
Possible Cons of Meditating Before Sleeping
But of course, there is always another side to the story. Some people claim that meditation before bed comes with one disadvantage. One supposed benefit of meditation is it causes natural high the level of endorphins in the body.
Many believe that this change in the hormone levels may counter the relaxation needed to fall asleep. However, this is only true for beginners who have not yet fully mastered the art of meditation.
Meditation Before Bed Techniques You May Want to Try
There are different meditation techniques that you can do. But when it comes to pre-sleep meditation, these are the best techniques that you may try:
This meditation requires you to lie in a bed in a dimly lit room and breathe from your abdomen and pay close attention to your breathing pattern. To enhance your focus, you can try closing your eyes or listen to music, preferably instrumental songs.
As you lie on your bed, you can try putting your hands over your belly. You will find that your hands will gently move as you inhale and exhale. Try concentrating on this movement—this simple act can help get your mind off your thoughts. It may not seem much, but you will be surprised as to how calm doing this can make you feel.
One problem that you would deal with while doing this technique is that you may feel uncomfortable lying down on your back, especially if you are not a back sleeper. You can also put a side sleeper pillow under your back to keep your spine in proper alignment.
In this technique, all that you have to do is use your imagination. The best thing about this is the sky is the limit. You can envision whatever you want to. The only point is, you should think of an image that keeps you calm and it can be different for everyone.
Some people like to think about popping bubble wraps. Other would think of being on the beach—the sunshine, breeze, sounds of waves and anything on a beach that relaxes you. The more detailed your imagination is, the better. In fact, you can encourage all your senses to explore your thoughts.
Guided imagery is known to be an excellent stress management option. This works by putting your mind off your concerns and instead, focusing it on more positive and relaxing ways.
If you are having problems envisioning any images, please watch this video:
We all know that counting sheep is the most popular way to try to fall asleep. Well, this technique is almost the same as that.
As you lie in your bed, bring your gaze upward. After a few minutes, you may feel minor strain in your eyes but don’t worry, that can help you feel more relaxed. Breathe from your abdomen then exhale and allow your muscles to relax. Do this for one to two times.
After that, picture yourself going down either the stairs or a hill. Count down from 10 to 20 as you take a step down. Exhale as you make an imaginary step.
Just like most techniques, this will require you to place your attention only on one thing. Most methods would need you to focus on breathing, but this one asks you to concentrate on thinking of positive affirmations.
But since we are talking about pre-sleep meditation, you may want to try affirmations that are exclusively for bedtime. Some of the recommended affirmations are as follows:
– I release today.
– I permit myself to fall asleep.
– I can now enter the place of deep and restful sleep.
– My sleep will be peaceful.
– I am inviting all the qualities of good sleep.
– I choose peace over my troubles.
When you recite these affirmations before you sleep, you are inviting restful energy that will bring you a peaceful state for sleeping.
If you are having some problems meditating on your own (don’t worry that happens), then this is the best meditation technique that you can try. In guided meditation, you can listen to an audio track of a person reciting meditation instructions. All that you have to do is to follow the directions that you will be provided with.
You can find plenty of free guided meditations for sleep. You can also buy meditation CDs online or in a bookstore. Once you have chosen your material, set up the device that you will use to play it. Adjust the volume settings to low. One pro tip to keep in mind is to set the device to sleep or power saving mode, so you do not need to stand up to turn it off.
Once you are ready to listen to the recording, turn the lights off and lie on your bed. Try to relax and listen. Don’t be pressured too much to fall asleep right away. For the first few tries, you may not be able to sleep after the first play-through of the recording. If this happens, take a deep breath and replay the recording.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is the type of meditation wherein you will systematically contract and relax the different group of muscles in your body. This is done to promote body awareness and at the same time encourage relaxation.
You can do this by lying down. Make sure to adjust your pillows and blankets until you feel comfortable. If needed, you can try using thin pillows for stomach sleepers to align your spine.
Once you are already feeling comfortable, you can proceed with contracting and relaxing your muscles. It is recommended that you start with the muscles at the top of your head then work your way down to your toes.
Try to contract the muscles enough just to feel a bit of tension for five seconds. After that relax the muscles. After 10 seconds of relaxation, proceed to contract the next set of muscle group. Repeat the process until you are done with all the muscles groups in the body or have fallen asleep—whichever comes first.
You can follow the order of muscle groups as listed below:
– Eyes and Nose
– Mouth, Cheeks, and Jaw
– Forearms and Wrist
– Upper Arms
– Glutes and Hips
– Feet and Ankle
Once you are done with all the muscle groups, and you still feel that there are still tensed muscles, you can repeat the process of contracting and relaxing the muscles for 3 to 4 more times until all your muscles already feel relaxed.
To know how to do this, please watch this video:
So should you do meditation before bed? Based on the information provided, it seems as if the pros trump the cons so yes, it would be good if you would meditate before going to sleep. But if you are unsure about it, it is recommended that you try it for a few weeks to see if it would be beneficial for you.