meditation before bed help sleep

Does Bedtime Meditation Help with Sleep?

Meditation has been gaining a lot of popularity as a daily activity, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and scrolling through social media. This introspective custom has many benefits, but does bedtime meditation help with sleep? Find the answer and many more interesting facts below.

Scientists have been paying attention to this practice for almost a decade now. Their studies show that mindfulness has the ability to change how the brain functions. With daily meditation practice, you can become calmer, feel more empathetic, and you will be able to deal with unexpected situations with an open heart.

Studies show that meditation helps with gray matter in your brain. In the frontal cortex, it is associated with memory and decision making.

As we get older, our cortex gets smaller, but you can change this with the help of a daily self-examining practice. Changes can be seen as early as eight weeks because as it turns out, the brain can be flexible.

Researches show that the simple act of breathing and paying attention to how your body touches the floor, how air enters and leaves your body, what smells are in the room, and what layers of sounds penetrate your thoughts can decrease stress and depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia, especially as we grow older.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is the time you dedicate to yourself by returning inwards. It’s a technique used along with yoga and it has everything to do with breathing and conscious thinking to develop your unconscious. It is less about lotus positions, cushions, aromas, sounds, and loose clothes, although these do help.

There are many types of pranayama techniques. There is basic meditation where you sit with your back straight and you start breathing, shifting your focus on how the lungs expand with each breath and less on your thoughts. There are also music meditations, guided ones, mantra meditations, transcendental meditation practices, and routines that involve movement.

meditation before bed help sleep pranayama breathing
Pranayama Breathing Skills. Image Source: Terry Cralle

Why Is Sleep Important?

As we grow older, studies show that we carry with us a lot of sleep issues. Many adults have trouble falling asleep, others staying so. Trail participants attest that insomnia comes with elevated levels of fatigue, mood disturbances, depressive symptoms, and reduced quality of life. Their recommended treatments are usually pharmacotherapy.

If you’re having trouble sleeping is because you are thinking about past actions or future tasks. You are fidgety and you are not aware of the present moment. Bedtime meditation helps us be less in our heads. With the help of the breath and the bed, it allows us to drift off towards a restful night.

Does Meditation Help with Sleep?

Mindful meditation attenuates automatic responses to our nervous system. By reducing arousal in the brain, you can treat insomnia or other health issues the natural way, medication-free. Meditation reduces blood pressure and this has a major impact on your body.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it’s been over 20 minutes, practice meditation and you will see that by learning to breathe or count, you will fall asleep in no time. And when you go to sleep with a quiet mind, you let it recharge and get the best rest there is.

Research suggests that you will feel more relaxed and this translates into a better focus and making smarter choices throughout the day. You will feel more energized to work and work out, you will pick better meals and you will want to socialize and share your practice. Bedtime meditation helps you sleep better and also lose weight.

meditation before bed help sleep yogi
Image Source: Terry Cralle

The Pros and Cons of Meditating

A great benefit of this deep relaxation technique is that it’s safe and free. All you need is yourself and some guidance to begin the practice that will help you take over control of your over-worked brain. Another advantage of meditation is that there are no side effects.

Many people avoid meditation because they think they cannot hold still. There are many types of meditation practices that involve slight movements, like Tai Chi. The moves help quiet the body’s aches and the breath helps focus the brain. You will feel both energized and relax, just do it at least one hour before bed, so you have time to settle in.

Tai chi or qi gong are ancient mind and body practices that have started in China but are slowly conquering the world. The biggest advantage of these practices is that they are easy on the body and can be done by both kids and grandparents. By stretching the body, along with mindful breathing, you will release lactic acid and toxins from your muscles and this will help you sleep faster.

meditation before bed help sleep stretching
Image Source: Terry Cralle

To meditate successfully you have to have an open heart and mind. You also have to understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and that some days are better than others. Yesterday you could practice for 30 minutes, but today you are flipping mentally through to-do lists and you can manage only 5 minutes.

This is great! What’s important is to develop a routine. Practice it every day, at the same time, even if you cannot do it for the same length. Consistency is essential in this treatment. If you want to do it laying down, go about your nightly routine – air the room, draw the curtains, take a shower, wear comfortable clothes, dim the lights, and settle in.

Types of Bedtime Meditation

There are many types of bedtime meditation that you can practice. You have to test them all and see which one you like best and fits with your brain. But keep in mind that at night you have to let go instead of focusing on complicated techniques or strict instructions.

You can even practice these steps if you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep or paired with some stretching yoga moves.

  • Mindful breathing is focused on how the breath moves your body, either the lungs or your belly, it depends where you want to redirect your energy. You can also notice the air flowing around your mouth or nose.
  • Guided meditation is letting your brain focus on the music, while the body practices the same technique as above. You can also listen to somebody talk.
  • Gratitude meditation is a technique that involves having positive thoughts about yourself and you can even use a mantra “I am strong”, “I am beautiful”, “I am at peace”, over and over again.
  • Counting meditation is great for beginners, you count on the inhale and then count on the exhale until reaching 10 and then you start over. You can also breathe for 3 counts and then exhale for 3 counts if the first practice is too monotonous for you.
  • Relaxing meditation is good if you’ve tried the rest and you need something extra. Focus on a place you love – at the beach, in the grass or on top of a mountain – and feel with all your senses. Smell the sea, hear the bird’s chirping, feel the cold grass, play with your imagination.
  • Compassionate mediation is when you pay attention to your feelings and you try to understand yourself and start healing. You can even cry. You can even meditate about a loved one and how they hurt you, but you accept how you’re feeling, you forgive that person and you let go with love.
  • Body scan meditation is great for fidgety people that need a little bit more focus. You pay attention to different parts of your body, from the head to the toes, and you redirect the breath there without moving. Notice any aches, stiffness, or even heat; observe and move on, don’t label it. If the body doesn’t do it for you, you can try retracing your day.

How to Begin Meditating?

In the beginning, you might find it hard to dedicate 30-40 minutes to this act, but you can start slow. Do it for a week for 1-5 minutes and then start growing your practice. You can also motivate yourself by starting a 30-day challenge. Do it at the same time each day, in the morning, during your lunch break or at night, before bed.

To begin, lay on your back, feet hip-distance apart, and with your hands resting gently on your belly feel the breath. You can also notice the air around your nose and mouth if the middle section isn’t doing it for you. Meditation offers a lot of freedom to play with, so take advantage of it.

Thoughts will always come to you, what’s important is how you react to them. Don’t stress, don’t judge and label, acknowledge them, and let go. Think of thoughts like cars passing by when you’re walking on a road. Start again where you left, be it counting or following the breath through your body. Don’t reprimand yourself that you can’t do it. You’re already half-way there, you showed up. Namaste!

Some apps and channels to help you get started are:

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