Lots of people nowadays are not getting enough sleep and it’s affecting all areas of their lives. Health, work, and relationships all suffer when we don’t get enough sleep. Medical studies and probably your experience shows this to be true.
Chronic inadequate sleep contributes to weight gain, decreases mental focus, increases chances of heart-related diseases and may even result in depression and anxiety problems. It’s no surprise that a lot of people want to know how to meditate for sleep.
How Meditation Can Help With Sleep
Meditation has been used as a stress reduction tool for years now and it’s very helpful.
What meditation does is it helps you distance yourself from your thoughts and feelings that you get when you are about to sleep. You just merely observe your thoughts and feelings non judgmentally and let them be.
Depending on the type of meditation you will perform, you will either watch your thoughts and feelings pass by your consciousness or notice them and bring your focus to your breath.
In order for meditation to be effective though, in most cases, you need to do it during the day as well as in the evening. The more you meditate the more you can practice dis-identifying from your thoughts and feelings before you sleep.
How is it though that the more you try to sleep the more you’re not able to?
How Wanting To Sleep Keeps You From Sleeping
If you make it your goal to sleep you’ll get more frustrated when you’re not able to do so. The more frustrated you are, the more you won’t be able to sleep. Instead of making it a goal to sleep, make it your goal to rest.
Also, sleep is not a state you can force yourself into. Sleep is not something you do. It’s a state that you naturally get into when you do nothing.
When you go back to some of the times when you were bored and were about to doze off, you’d notice that you were not doing anything or not engaging in any activity at the time.
Doing nothing in the context of sleeping means not actively engaging with your thoughts and feelings. When thoughts about your day or the next day come up, you notice the thoughts and let them be. It’s as if you’re respectfully declining to get involved with them.
But before you meditate, it would be helpful to get ready for meditation and sleep first.
How To Get Ready for Meditation and Sleep
No amount of meditation will allow you to sleep if you’ve had a lot of caffeine and your sleeping environment is not conducive to sleep.
Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of sleep.
1. Don’t drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks or eat heavy meals 4 hours before your intended sleeping time.
2. Make sure that your the room you are going to sleep in and meditate in has the minimum amount of noise possible.
3. Adjust the temperature in the room you’ll be sleeping in and meditating in. Generally, a temperature of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.
4. If possible, meditate in the same room where you will be sleeping. If you do this, when you get sleepy after meditation you can easily jump in the bed.
5. Don’t use your smartphone, tablet or laptop in your bed an hour before bedtime. Exposing yourself to the white light of your device will tend to wake you up.
6. If you are hungry, you can eat a light snack before meditating.
Kinds of Meditation for Sleeping
It’s important to know that you are free to modify any meditation practice to get the results that you want. Experiment with them to see which way to do them suits you best.
It would be helpful that these meditation practices were done not only before sleep but during the day as well. You can set your meditation time about an hour before sleeping.
Try to aim for the meditation time to be at least 10 minutes each time you meditate. It would be helpful to check the time when you started the meditation and when it ended to see if you finished the meditation in about this length of time.
Most meditation practices are helpful in aiding in sleep. The following are the ones that have personally worked for me.
1. Affectionate Breathing Meditation
a. Sit up straight on a chair. Put your hands on your lap.
b. Close your eyes.
c. Take 3 slow, deep breaths.
d. If you wish you can put your hand on your heart to remind you that you are giving kind attention to your experience. You can remove your hand from your heart and put it back there anytime you wish.
e. Notice the sensation of breathing. Don’t control your breathing in any way.
f. When your mind wanders, go back to noticing the sensation of breathing.
g. See if you can notice your breath as if you were noticing a child or favorite pet. Add some curiosity and kindness to your noticing.
h. Now notice your whole body breathe. Feel the rising and falling of your breath and body like the rising and falling of the waves of the sea.
i. You can let your body be rocked gently by your breath back and forth like a child being soothed by a parent.
j. If you want to you can let yourself become the breath. Imagine yourself getting rocked back and forth gently.
k. Once you’re ready to end the meditation, you can then move your attention to the stillness of your body.
l. Gently open your eyes.
2. Leaves On A Stream Meditation
a. Sit straight on a chair.
b. Close your eyes.
c. Follow your breath for a few minutes.
d. Now, when thoughts come up, label them as thoughts. When feelings come up, label them feelings. Do the same thing for sensations. Do this for a couple of minutes.
e. Now imagine you are sitting next to a flowing stream. On the stream, leaves float and are taken to the river.
f. Each time a thought, feeling or sensation comes up label them appropriately and place them gently into a leaf.
g. Watch the leaf gently float by with your thought, feeling, and sensation.
h. When you are done, open your eyes.
You Can Finally Sleep
Go ahead and try these practices for yourself and see if any of them will help you sleep.
You can also enroll in an online meditation course that helps with sleeping.
If you have tried any of these meditation exercises or others like it, I’d like to know if they were helpful to you.
If you have any questions, clarifications or comments, please let me know by commenting below.