Posted on by Amber Merton

woman meditating

Millions of people around the world suffer from sleep problems caused by a variety of factors, including a pre-existing medical conditions, negative thoughts, or thinking about stressful situations. Regardless of the cause, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night can eventually create a vicious cycle of unhealthy sleep habits that can impact many parts of one’s physical and mental well-being.

For some, over-the-counter or prescription medication maintenance helps, but for those looking for natural remedies, there are several stress-relieving techniques available to help you get restful sleep again.

How Much Sleep Does the Average Adult Need?

The average adult should aim to get between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Sleep is vital in maintaining a healthy, well-functioning body, both mentally and physically. Though you may feel like you can survive the day on less than 7 hours of sleep, your body might be running on fumes.

When you get consistently poor sleep, or are consistently sleeping less than the recommended amount of time, you may begin to experience symptoms of sleep deprivation, poor decision-making, poor concentration at school or work, and worsening mental health.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a health practice used to bring about awareness, and train the mind to gain a healthy perspective, rather than spiraling on negative or intrusive thoughts. Meditation uses many techniques, each with slightly different approaches to one common goal — relaxation.

It is used to increase one’s attention span, bring mental focus and awareness, and provide a mentally and emotionally calm aura. Meditation is a practice used around the world in many cultures, religions, and countries, with excellent outcomes.

How does Meditation Help with Sleep?

Meditation practice uses a variety of techniques to help healthily connect the mind and body to produce fewer unwanted symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and more. It is commonly referred to as “mind-body” therapy, as you are actively working to connect your mind and body through mental and physical work.

Common meditation techniques target specific areas in the brain, like stress hormones, and help to consciously relax the body. One common goal of mindfulness practices is to bring total relaxation to the entire body, rather than targeting one source of stress.

Meditation helps to improve sleep quality in many ways including:

Slowed Breathing

Through deep breathing exercises, you are forced to focus on your breathing, rather than worrying about external causes of stress. During specific meditation styles, you are forced to breathe deeply, using the deep muscles beneath the lungs, essentially inhaling relaxation, and exhaling stress, fear, and anxiety, allowing for improved sleep quality.

Calmed Stress Pathways in the Brain

Stress hormones are produced in the brain, and travel through pathways throughout the body. During mindfulness meditation, you are actively decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn, decreases stress levels and stress hormone production.

Manage Pain

When you are suffering from chronic pain, sleep is hard to come by. Meditation can help to reduce pain, making it more bearable to cope with, thus improving sleep quality.

Mental Health

When you practice meditation for sleep, you actively work to focus on the present moment, whether it be focusing on breathing, a sound, or an object, rather than focusing on the fear or anxious feelings associated with past or future encounters.

What are the Benefits of Meditation Before Bed?

Meditation practices have been scientifically proven to decrease one’s heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure to reduce or eliminate stress, anxious feelings, and other negative thoughts, feelings, or conditions. During your meditation practice, you must eliminate all distractions to ensure you maintain focus in the present moment for the best results. Benefits of meditation for sleep include:

Manage Symptoms Associated with Common Sleep Disorders

More than 50 million people report getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night in the United States alone, whether it be due to sleep apnea, insomnia, or other disorders that affect one’s sleep quality. Living with sleep disturbances can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, and may lead to daytime fatigue for many.

Randomized controlled trials, targeting older adults with poor sleep quality, showed that practicing meditation before bed as a relaxation technique improved daytime sleepiness, reduced cognitive impairments, and helped them to get a good night’s rest. A few minutes of sleep meditation helped to improve their overall quality of life, mental health, and physical well-being through more restful sleep.

Reduced Negative Thoughts and Feelings

Generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately 6 million people, yet more than half of those people are not receiving treatment for varying reasons. A meditation routine is one of the most common, non-invasive, treatment plans to reduce anxiety, depression, and other negative feelings. By adding meditation into your bedtime routine, you help to boost a relaxation response, and manage stress, as the production of the key stress hormone, cortisol, is significantly reduced.

Boost Memory and Improve Attention Deficit Disorders

Consistent meditation practice through one controlled study showed excellent memory formation, memory recall, and attention to the task at hand in those who perform sleep meditation before bed, when compared to those who do not. This study showed those who performed a regular meditation practice before performing a visual task were able to complete the task quicker and more efficiently than those who did not.

Specific meditation techniques work to train the mind into developing and maintaining healthy habits, including memory formation, and have shown great promise for those with age-related memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Improved Sleep Quality

Many sleep specialists boast how the average adult should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night to avoid sleep deprivation, but what if those hours of sleep are interrupted, and poor sleep quality? Restful sleep can help to boost immune support, enhance memory recall, and prevent chronic illnesses, making better sleep more important than ever for all ages — especially older adults.

Harvard Health reports a direct link between better sleep and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. When you are practicing meditation at night, you are more likely to get better sleep, as the body naturally increases sleep hormone levels like serotonin and melatonin levels.

What are the Most Commonly Practiced Meditation Styles?

There is no right or wrong meditation technique to use, so long as you are practicing meditation in a distraction-free environment, and are seeing results. There are several meditation techniques to choose from, depending on what you are comfortable with, and what works best for you.

Popular sleep meditation techniques include:

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most commonly practiced meditation techniques, as it is easy to learn, and has shown exceptional results for those who use it. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to help you learn self-awareness with your body, breathing, and mind through various exercises - most commonly breathing exercises. When you breathe slowly, counting each deep inhale and exhale, you help the muscles in your body relax, decrease your pulse and breathing rate, and promote healthier sleep.

Mindfulness meditation forces you to concentrate on the task at hand, and helps to train the mind to ward off negative thoughts. This is not to say you will no longer have negative thoughts or feelings, but through mindfulness meditation, you will be better equipped to deal with difficult situations.

Body Scan Meditation

Body scan meditation is the practice of releasing tension from the body with a purpose. While practicing body scan meditation, you must focus on one area of the body at a time, rather than connecting the body as a whole. As tension builds up throughout the body, it can cause many negative symptoms to appear, including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Panic attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems sleeping

The goal of body scan meditation is to gain physical awareness of your body in sections. For example, body scan meditation will help you to focus on tension relief in your face, without affecting the rest of the body.

Experts recommend starting body scan meditation with either the head or feet, and slowly working your way through the rest of the body in sequence. This will ensure the entire body is relaxed, and prepped for healthy sleep.

Guided Meditation

Guided meditation is a meditation practice in which you are guided step-by-step by another person. This person will walk you through each step of the chosen meditation method, whether it be in-person, through audio sound, over the phone, on a podcast, or by video.

During guided meditation, your guide will ask you to visualize a person, place, or thing that sparks joy, or that you are grateful for, and you will come back to this thing when you get distracted. Guided meditation is great for beginners who are unsure of where to start.

Movement Meditation

There are several techniques to choose from when performing movement meditation. This meditation practice is accompanied by any series of movements that help to relax the body, and may be in the form of taking a walk outside, riding a bicycle, or even doing household chores, if that relaxes you.

The most common type of movement meditation practiced is yoga — the practice of performing a series of poses to improve flexibility, and aid in the relaxation of the mind and body. Movement meditation forces you to focus on the current movement, rather than allowing your mind to wander to other worries. Movement meditation, like yoga, is great for beginners, as there is ample content to help guide you through.

Concentration Meditation

Concentration meditation is a meditation practice, in which you focus on a sound or object to center yourself, and help you to maintain focus throughout your time meditating. This method is great for people who have a difficult time concentrating, or staying focused, as you have the object or sound to bring your focus back. The goal of concentration meditation is to strengthen your attention span, making it easier to fall asleep at night, without your thoughts racing.

What is the Best Time of Day to Meditate for Sleep?

Meditation for sleep is best performed within an hour of bedtime. This allows plenty of time for the mind and body to relax and reset in a worry-free environment, and begin to slow down in preparation for sleep. While meditation for sleep is great, there are other times throughout the day that meditation can help.

Adding meditation into your morning routine can improve your focus throughout the day, and promote concentration for better workflow, while a mid-day meditation session can combat daytime drowsiness, and help you power through the rest of your day.

How to Meditate Before Bed

Practicing meditation before bed is a great way to help relax the mind and body to prepare for a good night’s sleep. While there is no one way to meditate, there are a few things that you must do to ensure the best results:

  • Choose the space you are going to meditate in with adequate room for movements, depending on the meditation style chosen.
  • Remove all distractions from your meditation space, including anything loud and noisy.
  • Dim the lights to create a soothing environment.
  • Light a candle with a pleasant scent.

Once you have chosen your preferred meditation style, and your meditation space is prepared, spend at least 5 to 10 minutes meditating. If desired, you can meditate longer for more relaxation, but you should not meditate for less than 5 minutes, as you are less likely to see effects. While there are many meditation styles to choose from, you are not limited to just one. Change up your meditation style as you see fit, based on the results you are searching for.

Other Benefits of Meditation

While meditation is an excellent, non-invasive treatment option for treating sleep disorders, it can do much more! The majority of people who meditate are doing so to reduce stress levels in their body, with better sleep just being one of the many side effects.

Other benefits include a more positive outlook on life, a boost in confidence, more compassion and patience, and heightened focus while performing tasks. Mindfulness meditation, body scan meditation, and many other meditation styles are great options used to treat:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Hypertension
  • Addiction
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Balance disorders
  • Attention deficit disorders

Risks Associated with Meditation

For most, meditating before bed does not pose any serious risks or concerns; however, there are a select few people who may experience a negative effect - especially those with pre-existing mental health conditions, addiction problems, or post-traumatic stress disorder. These people are likely to experience the opposite effects intended with meditation, including worsened sleep, muscle pain, negative feelings, and intrusive thoughts.

If you have experienced panic attacks, or hyperventilate when overwhelmed, it is best to avoid breathing exercises associated with mindfulness meditation, as these exercises could trigger an attack. Similarly, those with balance disorders are likely to experience minor injuries with movement meditation until they become more steady on their feet. Injuries may include bruises, bumps, and sprains.

Other Healthy Bedtime Habits to Improve Sleep

Create a Soothing Sleep Environment

Sleep experts have said for years that the environment you sleep in plays a critical role in whether your sleep will be healthy or not. Sleeping in a bright space that has loud distractions, or is an uncomfortable temperature, will not yield comfortable sleep. It is best to eliminate blue light emitting factors like the television or a cell phone, use only dim or low-lit lights, and keep the temperature in your room cool to help the body relax.

Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule

By keeping a consistent sleep schedule, you help to train your mind and body to know when it is time to start calming down for bedtime, or trigger waking in the morning. It is best to keep a consistent routine in the evenings, such as eating dinner, taking a shower, and meditating around the same time each evening, to ensure your body is prepared for the upcoming changes.

Sleep on a Comfortable Surface

Your sleep surface is a huge factor in determining if you will sleep well or not. If you are sleeping on an old, lumpy mattress, you are less likely to get deep, comfortable sleep. Most people do not replace their mattress when it is worn out for a variety of reasons, but experts recommend replacing your mattress every 7-10 years, depending on the material.

Deep, Comfortable Sleep with PlushBeds

No matter the reason for better sleep, at PlushBeds we have mattresses designed to help sleepers of all ages sleep better - from newborns to elders. Our mattresses are backed by some of the most strict purity and quality certifications, come with a limited lifetime warranty, and a risk-free trial to ensure you are choosing the right material, height, and firmness for your sleep needs. We spend so much of our lives resting in bed; why waste ⅓ of our life sleeping on a mattress that is not comfortable?

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