It’s normal to experience difficulty sleeping at one time or another. But frequently having trouble sleeping can be a frustrating and even debilitating experience. Read on to discover why meditation for sleep is easier than we think.
You sleep horribly at night which leaves you feeling drained in the morning. Whatever energy you have quickly diminishes throughout the day, and no matter how fatigued you are that very night, you still have trouble sleeping.
The same cycle begins again, taking a huge toll on your energy levels, mood, productivity, and how you handle stress.
Sleep disorders left untreated can cause more than just daytime sluggishness. They can damage your physical health and lead to diminished productivity, weight gain, accidents, impaired memory, and put a strain on your relationships. If you want to stay healthy, perform to your potential, and feel and look your best, consistent quality sleep is a necessity.
Thankfully, getting your sleep in order is easier than we think. And it doesn’t involve supplements or doctor visits.
It is simply meditation for sleep — an effective, natural solution for anyone who wants a more natural approach to achieve deep, rejuvenating sleep, and waking up feeling refreshed and recharged.
Meditation for Sleep — a Harvard Study
A 2015 study by Harvard Medical School shows that meditation for sleep — a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment — can be a powerful solution to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The 6-week study, which appears in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved 49 middle-aged and older adults who were experiencing insomnia. The first half of the group completed a mindfulness-awareness program which taught them meditation and mindfulness exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.”
The second half of the group completed a sleep education program that taught them other ways to improve their sleep habits.
After six weeks, the first group which experienced the meditation program had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than the group that underwent the sleep education program. The study concluded that “mindfulness meditation appears to have a role in addressing the prevalent burden of sleep problems among older adults.”
Click here for the full clinical trial report.
Science is just beginning to explain how sleep meditation enriches our mind-body connection, but how exactly does meditation help sleep? Here are four key reasons:
1. Meditation Enhances the Brainwaves of Sleep
The biggest reason for insomnia is actually worrying about insomnia. Anxiety of not going to sleep is the biggest cause of not being able to sleep.— Deepak Chopra
If you’re spending many nights tossing and turning, you may have an excess of beta brain waves, which dominates our normal waking state of consciousness.
Beta brain waves are present when we are engaged in mental activity such as decision-making, attentiveness, and even when we are uneasy, anxious, or depressed.
Negative thoughts about your inability to fall asleep can escalate as the wee hours of the morning creep in, bringing in even more unwanted beta brainwaves.
This negative feedback loop makes falling asleep even more difficult as your clock gets closer to your dreaded wake-up time.
We know meditation helps us relax, but what really happens in your brain during meditation?
Research suggests that people who meditate produce far more alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves — brainwaves that boost deep relaxation and deep sleep — and produce far less insomnia-causing, attention-inducing beta brainwaves.
Alpha, Theta, and delta brainwaves produced during meditation directly cancel out beta brainwaves, allowing you to wake up refreshed in the morning and ready to perform at your best.
2. Meditation Brings Us to the Present (Instead of Tomorrow’s Worries)
Can’t sleep at night because of your long to-do list occupying your thought space?
We’ve all been there.
It’s normal to lose a few hours of sleep this way.
By learning to focus on the present moment during meditation for sleep we’re able to tap into our realization that the day is over, tomorrow is not yet upon us, and what matters is in the now.
One of the objectives of deep sleep meditation or mindfulness practices is to better manage your brain and move it from a space of worry and stress to a space of peace and comfort — welcoming you to a relaxed state of mind as you drift off into a deep sleep.
It’s all about focusing your attention on the present: bringing your mind into awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. By doing so you can then run them better, rather than allowing them to run you.
Bedtime meditation to achieve mindful thought awareness is often the only way to soothe your mind, rapidly get to sleep, and make deep rest your nightly norm.
3. Meditation Boosts Melatonin (the Sleep Chemical)
Melatonin — a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep and wakefulness — peaks just before bedtime to ensure a good night’s rest.
Termed “the miracle drug from within,” melatonin is essential to feelings of happiness and well-being, activates the immune system, regulates the circadian rhythms, and acts as an extremely powerful antioxidant.
According to a study by the University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program, people who meditate had considerably higher melatonin levels than people who don’t meditate, and when test participants did not meditate, their melatonin levels did not increase that night.
The conclusion was that daily meditation, especially before bedtime, increases melatonin production.
Although scientists are not clear how meditation stimulates the pineal gland which produces melatonin, what studies suggest is that melatonin increases immediately after meditating.
So instead of reaching for your melatonin supplements for rejuvenating sleep before it’s time to turn in, a more natural, effective (and cheaper) long-term solution to elevate your sleep-inducing melatonin levels can simply be through sleep meditation.
4. Meditation Enhances the REM Stage of Sleep
The quality of your sleep trumps the quantity of hours you spend in bed — every time.
If you find yourself feeling continuously tired and fatigued, even if you are putting in enough hours of sleep, you’re likely not getting enough sleep time in the most restorative part of our sleep cycle — the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage.
Brain activity during the REM stage is characterized by brain waves similar to what you experienced in a wakeful state — a mix of alpha and theta waves, and high-frequency beta waves typical during high-level concentration and thinking. People often associate REM sleep with dreams.
REM is the fifth and last stage of sleep and not reaching or disrupting your REM sleep stage translates into an incomplete cycle, causing fatigue and grogginess throughout the day.
REM sleep begins with signals from an area of the base of the brain called “pons” which regulates melatonin.
Neuroscientists at Massachusetts General Hospital conducted brain scan research that shows how meditation elevates the REM-stimulating “pons” region of the brain.
The study concluded that people who practice sleep meditation have far more enhanced REM cycles and more “neuro-plasticity” (the ability to rewire and connect different parts of the brain), which may explain the increase in dreams reported by many who practice bedtime meditation.
Top 10 Guided Meditations for Sleep
If you are new to meditation and you have trouble sleeping, trying simple mindfulness exercises or guided sleep meditations can ease you into getting nightly restorative sleep.
While various meditation practices can help with sleep disorders, guided sleep meditations is an effective solution for restful sleep as it helps you gradually fall into a sleep-state through soothing sleep-inducing music, vocal tracks, and visualizations.
For best results, listen with headphones while falling asleep and set your audio player to replay for uninterrupted hours of sleep.
1. Deepak Chopra’s guided meditation for deep sleep
Deepak Chopra leads through 4 minutes of easy instructions for mindfulness sleep meditation — nonjudgmental observation of your thoughts, a silent sleep mantra, and breathing awareness — to achieve deep, restful sleep.
2. Go to sleep! A 10-minute guided meditation
This 10-minute meditation incorporates brainwave resonances, a tonal track, and guided calming visualizations designed to bring you to a relaxed state of body and mind.
3. Into deep sleep
This 20-minute meditation pulls you into a deep slumber by gently guiding you to replace your everyday thoughts with comforting dream imagery.
4. Peaceful sleep meditation
Calmly move into a mindset of calm and peace to lull you into a restful, rejuvenating sleep in this 16-minute guided meditation. This sleep meditation is also available without background music.
5. Falling asleep meditation
Let go of fatigue as you experience a visualization sleeping technique in this 21-minute guided bedtime meditation. This meditative journey will lead you into a deep and natural sleep.
6. Guided Sleep Meditation Countdown
If you enjoy celestial imagery, pacifying music, and gentle sounds of nature, you will love this collection of five guided meditations. Ranging from 25 minutes to 1 hour, eliminate the stresses of your day and cast off into a blissful rest through gentle breathing exercises and visualizations.
7. Meditation for insomnia and sleepless mights
Tranquil soft music enriches this 60-minute guided meditation featuring a soothing male voice — powerful for people struggling with insomnia.
8. Floating amongst the stars
The title of this guided meditation says it all — this guided meditation with deeply moving music will make you feel like you’re floating in space. Enjoy this heavenly 1-hour meditation to put your mind at ease as you drift into a dreamy well-needed slumber.
9. Yoga Nidra for sleep
This 22-minute Yoga Nidra for sleep meditation allows you to access an inner sense of peace and calm. The deeply soothing voice instantly puts you at ease to keep you in a deep relaxed sleep all night to wake up fully rested.
10. Into sleep meditation
Enter a deep, restorative sleep in this 9-minute bedtime meditation. All parts of the body and mind will be in harmony to achieve a complete state of relaxation.