When you turn off the lights and lay down in your bed at night, do you find your mind buzzing with thoughts of the day, and plans for tomorrow? If you struggle with “turning your brain off”, you may find yourself feeling restless and unable to sleep. Fortunately, meditation to help you sleep is one way to quiet your thoughts and fight insomnia.
Meditation has been shown to help people who struggle with insomnia and other sleep disturbances. But many don’t know how to meditate before bed, or aren’t aware of the different techniques and methods they can use.
Can Meditation Treat Insomnia?
Research suggests that various types of meditation can help improve insomnia, and may even improve sleep quality for those without existing sleep problems. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, appears to improve sleep quality and reduce daytime disturbance in people with chronic insomnia and older adults.
In the long term, these improvements may be comparable to effects seen from sleep medication or other established methods for insomnia treatment. Like other sleep treatments, a main goal of meditation is to take the pressure off to fall asleep.
How does meditation help you sleep?
Studies have found that meditation can help reduce cortisol, which is the hormone associated with stress. Meditation increases the natural melatonin levels to help with more restful sleep. Furthermore, meditation is shown to have benefits on patients with mental health disorders who may experience insomnia as a symptom. By using meditation to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, some patients have an easier time falling and staying asleep.
The exact interplay between meditation and sleep is still being investigated, but it appears that meditation provokes lasting changes in the brain that may affect sleep. Studies on people experienced in meditation have found that they display improvements in slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, as well as fewer nighttime awakenings.
It’s important to note that meditation is not a cure for underlying conditions that may affect sleep quality or the ability to fall asleep. If your sleeping is not helped by meditation, talk to your doctor about other options.
Here are 2 steps to help you fight insomnia at night:
Step 1: Setting up the right environment
The first step of meditating before bed is preparing the right environment. The ideal environment should be calm, quiet, and free of distractions. It may be helpful to create a set nightly routine to make the process easier.
Wear whatever you find most comfortable. If you’re using your phone or another device to listen to a guided meditation program, turn down the screen brightness and close all other apps or windows.
Step 2: Choosing a meditation method
There are many different methods of meditation out there to help you find peace before bedtime. The goal of each of these methods is to relax your mind and body in preparation for sleep.
Guided meditation involves listening to a pre-recorded podcast or audio clip of someone leading you through the process. A teacher or host may talk you through a meditative session, explaining relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and more. They may involve audio, video, or a combination of the two.
Guided meditation may be helpful for those who struggle to keep their mind focused on relaxing. However, listening to another person may be disruptive for those who need silence to meditate before bed.
How Often Should You Meditate for Insomnia?
Meditation to help sleep at night is a skill, and those who practice it more often tend to see more meaningful benefits. Studies on the relaxation response have found that meditations to help you sleep produces immediate psychological and physical effects, suggesting that daily practice is optimal in order to see effects on that night’s sleep.
While factors such as the minutes spent meditating and the quality of meditation are difficult to quantify, the benefits of meditation have been found to be enhanced in long-term practitioners.
Other Benefits of Meditation
Better sleep is just one benefit of meditation. When done regularly, meditation can also:
- improve your mood
- relieve stress
- reduce anxiety
- increase focus
- improve cognition
- reduce tobacco cravings
- improve your pain response
- control high blood pressure
- improve heart health
- reduce inflammation
Meditation to help you sleep is a powerful tool for those struggling with insomnia or poor sleep. It may require some trial and practice to find the right method, but meditation has the potential to improve your quality of sleep.
However, meditation to help sleep at night may not work for everyone. If your insomnia persists or if you find that meditation is worsening your symptoms of depression or anxiety, talk to a doctor. Your insomnia may be caused by an underlying medical condition that requires treatment from a licensed professional.