Meditation: A Simple and Safe Way to Help You Sleep

Tara Youngblood Apr 12, 2022

Meditation for Sleep

Meditation has turned into a wellness buzzword. You’ve probably have heard a lot about it, but have you tried meditation? It’s common for you to feel that it’s not for you, you don’t have enough time, you can’t do it or you don’t need it. But we encourage you to give it a try.

Today, there are different types of meditation and you can find a type that’s perfect for you and your goals. Also, meditation became popular for a reason: the many benefits it provides for mind-body wellness. It's worth trying to see if it makes a difference in your life, and most importantly your quality of sleep.

This practice is simple to start, and there are short meditation sessions for everyone to try.

What Is Meditation?

Ultimately, the practice of meditation involves certain techniques designed to focus and clear the mind, creating a state of calm and quiet. Experts from the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Complementary and Integrative Health note commonalities of different types of meditation include getting into a comfortable position in a quiet area, focusing your mind and being open to the experience without judgment. [1] The reason this overview isn’t more specific is that there are many types of meditation, so let’s get into that next.

Types of Meditation

It's best to feel at ease during meditation practice, so you don't want to force it. Some people find themselves unable to sit still without thoughts running in their heads. With meditation, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many types of meditation, including meditation to help improve sleep:

Moving Meditation

This is a meditative practice that involves focusing on slowly moving the body within a routine. This is a good option for individuals that want to find peace in action. Movement meditation can be a terrific option, particularly if you’re someone who gets restless quickly. Below are a few suggested movement meditations that you can try.

  • Gardening
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Tia Chi
  • Qigong
  • And other gentle forms of movement.

Guided Meditation

This type of meditation is led by a teacher, via audio or video or in person. You listen to someone’s voice as they guide you to imagine visualizations or focus your mind in specific ways. There are various guided meditations for anxiety, including a 5-minute Box Breathing exercise.

Mindfulness Meditation

You notice and pay attention to your thoughts and observances without judgment. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be an effective way to manage feelings of stress and anxiety while helping with relaxation. This practice combines awareness and concentration and can be done alone. Additionally, mindfulness meditation appears to help improve your sleep quality. [2]

Sleep Study: A recent study showed that mindfulness meditation reduced the inflammatory responses caused by stress. [3]

Yoga Meditation

You focus your attention on moving your body into different yoga postures and then allow yourself to calm your mind during poses like sitting cross-legged in Easy Pose or while lying flat on your back in Corpse Pose. If you’re interested in learning more, make sure you read more about the benefits of yoga and how to get started.

Improve Endurance and Strength

At sleepme, whether you're looking for yoga to help prepare for sleep, gentle movements or heart-pounding intensity, you'll find a yoga exercise that works for you.

Progressive Relaxation

This involves starting at your feet or head as you intentionally tighten and then relaxing each part of your body at a time, aiming to fully relax each part of the body as you go. Progressive relaxation can be used to unwind before bedtime and relieve stress. The above mentions are just a few popular meditation options. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress and anxiety, feel refreshed, or find spiritual enlightenment, you have options.

Which Meditation Is Right for You?

Overall, try any type of meditation that appeals to you. If one doesn’t help you relax, try something else until you find a type you connect with. Adapt meditation to suit your needs. If you feel like you can’t sit still, try a moving meditation or meditative yoga practice. If you have limited mobility, you can instead get into a comfortable position and focus your mind or listen to a guided meditation. If you're frustrated during mindfulness practice, try focusing on the words of a guided meditation instead. There’s a type of meditation for everyone.

Benefits of Meditation

Scientific research backs up the benefits of meditation for your health and sleep. In particular, it’s shown to help with certain health conditions, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Did You Know? Meditation is currently practiced by at least one in six adults and over 14% have meditated at least once. [4]

At sleepme, we like to focus on sleep and wellness factors that impact sleep. Supporting certain mental and physical concerns with meditation may indirectly help with sleep, and as mentioned, meditation can also have a direct impact on insomnia.

One study [5] noted that a specific type of meditation geared toward sleep, which is called mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBTI), worked particularly well for insomnia compared to other meditation techniques used in the study. Nonetheless, other types of meditation for sleep showed benefits as well.

Read More: Beginners Guide to Yoga Nidra and How It Can Help You Sleep.

The primary focus of meditation is on calming the mind. Many people struggle to fall asleep because of incessant thoughts and worries running through their minds. Meditation could help you learn to acknowledge those thoughts and let them go in the current moment in time.

You can learn to put aside your problems until the next day. With practice, this process becomes easier, helping you create a calm mind that facilitates sleep. In addition, meditation provides an excellent pre-bed routine, allowing you to unwind, let go of the day and create a sense of stress relief and peace.

How to Get Started with Meditation

One of the easiest ways to get started is to sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breathing; breathe in and breathe out. Then, intentionally slow the breaths and extend the length of each inhale and exhale. You can go from there, next focusing on a candle or object.

This is focused meditation, whether you’re focusing on your breathing or something else. You may then want to practice mindfulness. Try keeping your eyes closed as you aim to calm and empty your mind, noticing thoughts when they appear and gently allowing them to float away.

Nonetheless, if you notice yourself gravitating more toward the idea of one of the other types, feel free to give them a try. Meditation works best if you find the right type for you and your goals.

Final Thoughts

Overall, meditation is a safe practice that is easy to try, and there’s a type to fit every person. It doesn’t have to be complicated, as even a quick session can provide endless benefits. Try deep breathing and calming the mind for just a few minutes to see how even something this simple can calm and de-stress you.

If you have trouble sleeping or simply want to create a better nighttime routine, consider adding a simple meditation session to your evening. At sleepme, we have a selection of free mindfulness meditations that last 20 to 30 minutes each, designed to help you relax and get the best sleep possible.

Citations

[1] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, April). Meditation: In Depth. NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth

[2] Barrett, B., Harden, C. M., Brown, R. L., Coe, C. L., & Irwin, M. R. (2020). Mindfulness meditation and exercise both improve sleep quality: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial of community dwelling adults. Sleep health, 6(6), 804–813. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2020.04.003

[3] Rosenkranz, M. A., Davidson, R. J., Maccoon, D. G., Sheridan, J. F., Kalin, N. H., & Lutz, A. (2013). A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 27(1), 174–184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2012.10.013

[4] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016, April). Meditation: In Depth. NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth

[5] Ibid.