The Best Meditation Techniques for Sleep

October 2, 2023
The Best Meditation Techniques for Sleep


Top Meditation Techniques for Sleep and Why They’re Effective

Have you ever crawled into bed at night, desperate for sleep to come — but you just can’t turn off your brain?

You aren’t alone. Overactive minds cause insomnia and difficulty staying asleep for many people.

So what can be done about it?

One natural solution many people have had overwhelming success with is sleep meditation.

Keep reading to find out the benefits of sleep meditation as well as the best meditation techniques for sleep.

Table of Contents

Is Meditation Before Sleep Good?
5 of the Best Meditation Techniques for Sleep
Why It Can Be So Hard To Get To Sleep
4 Benefits of Meditation and Breathing for Sleep
Try Guided Meditation Techniques With Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi for Better Sleep

Is Meditation Before Sleep Good?

When done the right way, sleep meditation can be a powerful tool to help you achieve a restful night. It involves building a routine that helps you approach bedtime with an attitude of setting yourself up for success.

Understanding how sleep meditation works — primarily by focusing on breathing — helps you do it effectively.

There is scientific evidence to back up the claim that meditation techniques for better sleep are effective. One study examined two different groups of older adults who had experienced sleep disturbances.

Group one learned meditation as part of a mindfulness awareness program and group two went through a sleep education program. After six sessions, the group practicing sleep meditation showed less daytime fatigue and fewer instances of insomnia than the sleep education students.

A second study produced evidence that meditation before bed can increase levels of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep.

5 of the Best Meditation Techniques for Sleep

Sleep meditation may not look the same for everyone. Here are five different meditation techniques for sleeping better you can try.

See what works best for you — you may find that your sleep sweet spot involves some combination of the following.

#1: Deep Abdominal Breathing

Many people have trouble sleeping because their brains are racing a mile a minute. You need your brain to quiet and slow down to achieve a restful state.

Unfortunately, we can’t mind control our brainwaves to calm down. (Wouldn’t that be a nice trick?) Fortunately, if you can control your breathing, you can control the life force in your body.

When you slow your breath, your brain takes that as a signal that you are relaxed, so it should relax as well. Deep abdominal breathing is the most effective way to do this.

How does it work? First, you should concentrate on how you are breathing. If your mind is agitated, your breaths tend to be fast and shallow — which is not conducive to sleep.

The trick is to slow your breathing and make it as deep as possible. Consciously try to breathe from your lower abdomen, not your chest, for as long as you can while getting in as much air as you can.

#2: 4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 breathing is based on ancient yoga practices involving controlling the breath. It has been shown to help with stress reduction and relaxation, leading to better sleep.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, keeping your back straight.
2. Press your tongue against the back of your top teeth.
3. Exhale through your mouth, keeping your tongue behind your teeth. Purse your lips if it helps. Be sure to empty your lungs of air.
4. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while counting to four.
5. Hold your breath while counting to seven.
6. Exhale through your mouth, using the same technique as before, for a count of eight.

This is one cycle of 4-7-8 breathing. When using this sleep meditation technique, beginners should do four cycles in a row. As you get used to it, work your way up to eight cycles. Don’t worry if you feel a little lightheaded — it should pass quickly.

You can use the 4-7-8 technique any time you feel stressed, but doing it right before bed will produce improved sleep through relaxation response.

#3: Counting While Breathing

The practice of counting while trying to fall asleep can keep you anchored to your breath and help each one stay slow and deep.

There are different ways you can do this, so play around with it to figure out which you like best. Regardless of how you count, make sure you start by lying down in a fully relaxed, comfortable position.

One method suggests that you count slowly up from one to ten and then backward from ten to one, pairing each number with an exhale. Keep doing this until you fall asleep.

Some people like to count backward from 99 while breathing deeply until they fall asleep. If you do it right, you probably won’t get anywhere near number one!

#4: Body Scan

The body scan technique focuses on being in tune with every part of your body. It involves searching your body for tension that you can then release for sleep to come more easily.

This method also starts with lying down and getting perfectly comfortable. As you continue to exhale and relax, complete these steps:

1. Visualize every part of your body, either moving from top to bottom or vice-versa. Try to notice any tension spots as you go and focus on exhaling and relaxing these spots.
2. After you have released the tension in your body, concentrate on your exhalations. You may want to repeat a simple mantra to yourself as you do this, something soothing that will help you drift off.
3. As you exhale and repeat your mantra, your mind and body should completely relax and allow you to fall asleep.

#5: Guided Meditation

Guided meditation can be made up of several different techniques, including:

• Visualizations
• Silence
• Retracing your day
• Movement-based meditation
• And more

Not sure how to go about guided meditation before bed? At Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, we offer meditation classes designed to help you pick up routines that work best for you.

We offer powerful guided meditation techniques designed to help you relax and focus on energy sensations while naturally bringing your mind into a state of deep peace and centeredness.

Once you are familiar with these practices, you’ll be able to use the tools you’ve acquired to help with sleep meditation.

Why It Can Be So Hard To Get To Sleep

Many people have insomnia because of the state of their brainwaves. If your brain is too active, falling asleep can be nearly impossible.

The five different types of brainwaves are:

1. Gamma — These waves have the highest frequency and are involved in problem-solving and concentration.
2. Beta — Slower than gamma (but still pretty fast), these waves are anxiety-dominant but also seen when the mind is busy and active.
3. Alpha — These mid-frequency waves occur when the mind is reflective and restful.
4. Theta — Getting even slower, these waves show up when you are inward-focused, deeply relaxed, or drowsy.
5. Delta — These slowest waves occur when you are asleep.

When your brain is hyperactive at night, meaning it is in the gamma or beta stages, sleep may not come. It’s important to slow your brain and get it to the alpha or theta stages so you can finally achieve those delta waves and head off to dreamland.

Other reasons people may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep include:

• Stress
• Anxiety disorders
• Hormonal changes such as menopause
• Jet lag
• Too much caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the system
• Vigorous exercise too late in the day
• Eating too much late in the day
• Frequently changing work shifts
• Too much light stimulation from television, tablet, or phone
• Sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome
• Medical conditions
• Etc.

How Meditation Helps With Sleep: It’s All About Breathing and the Brain

Effective meditation slows down your brain to help with sleep. But meditation on its own isn’t what helps you rest.

It’s not enough to sit still and try to think calm, peaceful thoughts. Deep breathing within meditation is the key to success.

If you can control your breathing, you can control the life force within your body and achieve the types of brain waves necessary for sleep.

How Can I Tell if My Meditation and Breathing Are in Sync?

Think about a time when you were in panic mode. Maybe you were running late for an important meeting or almost stepped off the curb when a car was barrelling past.

What was your breathing like at that moment? It was most likely fast and shallow.

Now think of a time when you were peaceful and relaxed, like your beach vacation last summer. Were you panting with a racing heart while lying in the sand? No way! Your breaths were slow, deep, and rhythmic.

We can trick our brains into thinking we’re relaxed by syncing them with our breathing.

If you aren’t sure how to tell if you’re breathing in the best possible way, try this trick:

Place one hand over your heart and the other on your belly. You should feel your breath coming from your abdomen, not your chest. Slow your breath and allow it to come from as deep a place as possible.

4 Benefits of Meditation and Breathing for Sleep

#1: Mindfulness Effects

It’s easy for our brains to get overloaded these days. People are busier than ever, plus nonstop streams of social media and 24-hour news make it hard to turn off and tune out.

Meditation and deep breathing before sleep help with mindfulness. They force us to focus on controlling our breath instead of being consumed by our thoughts. Stopping the noise in our brains helps us quickly reach a state of relaxation and fall asleep more easily.

#2: Calms the Nervous System

Using breathing exercises before sleeping slows the heart rate, calming the nervous system. The body’s natural response to deep breathing is to relax. And if you’re relaxed, it’s easier to get to sleep.

#3: Improved Sleep

The more you do meditation and deep breathing, the better your sleep gets in the long run. That’s because you are conditioning your brain and body to follow the cues you are giving when it’s time for bed.

Continual sleep meditation practice is self-enforcing, and the more you do it, the faster it is likely to work.

#4: Health Benefits

The practice of sleep meditation and its ensuing improved sleep habits may help:

• Lower anxiousness and stress
• Control high blood pressure
• Increase pain tolerance
• Reduce inflammation; and
• Improve concentration

Try Guided Meditation Techniques With Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi for Better Sleep

Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi offers online and in-studio guided meditation classes that can give you what you need to improve your sleep quantity and quality.

Along with classes in yoga, tai chi, and breathwork, our meditation sessions are designed to offer you the best in holistic fitness. We believe you can train your brain, body, and breath to work for you.

We’ll even offer you a 50-minute private introductory session for a low price. Explore our class offerings and contact us today.