How to Use Meditation to Destress and Help You Fall Asleep

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You might think of meditation as something you do first thing in the morning, and that’s certainly an excellent time for a meditation session.

Meditation can do many things, including providing you with clarity and energy for the day. However, meditation can also be soothing, relaxing, and a great practice before bed.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that the majority of American adults are chronically fatigued and suffer from lack of good quality sleep. Establishing a healthy sleep routine and sleep hygiene is critical to improving your overall health and wellness.

Since meditation can help you fall asleep more quickly, it’s only natural that it becomes part of your nightly ritual. Here’s how to get started.

Meditation for Sleep

Meditation for sleep might be very different than your morning practice.

Unlike morning practices, it might be prudent to practice this routine in bed and give yourself permission to fully fall asleep mid-meditation if that’s what occurs.

If you’d prefer to practice in bed, make sure that you’ve already created a sleep-approved environment. This includes reducing all lights to the best of your ability and making sure the room is cool (65 is ideal) and quiet.

Remove any technology from the room and opt for an old-fashioned alarm clock. Your phone doesn’t need to be in your room.

How you meditate will require some trial and error.

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Everyone is different, and it will take some research to find out what works for you.

Guided meditation will be difficult if you’re in bed and committed to no technology. However, it may work if it utilizes tech that is automatically set to turn off at a certain time (so you aren’t disturbed by blue light in the middle of the night).

Otherwise, you may want to try counting beads or repeating a special and relaxing mantra.

You can also practice meditation in a bathtub (just make sure it’s a meditation that engages you enough to not make you fall asleep!), seated in a comfortable space, or with legs up the wall.

Legs up the wall is a popular option for savasana in yoga class. You can enjoy even more benefits by putting a weight, such as a bolster, on your feet that you hold up. Legs up the wall should be held for 3-10 minutes, and it’s normal for the legs to start to tingle.

It’s a very soft inversion, and we can benefit greatly from reversing the blood flow temporarily. It’s also a position that’s proven to be relaxing and can be a great precursor to bed.

Complimentary Sleep Routines

Meditation as part of your sleep hygiene is a great addition, but it might not be effective if your other sleep hygiene rituals are non-existent.

A great sleep hygiene practice begins at least two hours before bedtime and starts with avoiding screens. You’ll also want to avoid eating anything heavy or consuming caffeine or alcohol.

Ideally, caffeine should be avoided as much as possible and at least after 2 p.m. It’s the most widely used drug in America and can wreak havoc on a number of your systems.

Your sleep hygiene rituals will be unique to you. They may change throughout the years, and it’s a good idea to try out different suggestions.

Popular options include taking a soothing bath before bedtime, reading (not on a screen), and enjoying a ritual like decaf tea.

Creating a sleeping space that’s soothing and encourages sleep is also a must. Blackout curtains can really help if there are exterior lights or if you get up when it’s bright outside. Earbuds can help reduce noise.

A “good night’s sleep” isn’t a one size fits all solution. The goal is to wake up naturally without an alarm clock.

Alarm clocks are necessary for most people, but they’re jarring. If you suddenly interrupt REM sleep, you might feel “off” the rest of the day.

The only way to determine how many hours of sleep you really need is to experiment on days when you don’t have to wake up.

Eight hours is just an average. Some people need a lot more or a lot less.

Rules of Meditation

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Meditation isn’t a destination. Many practitioners can only count a few seconds of “real” meditation throughout their whole lives.

It’s not achieving a state where your mind is totally blank. That’s often impossible.

Instead, meditation is a time when you allow yourself to recognize outside thoughts coming in and dismissing them.

Meditation often depends on chants and mantras, whether internal or audible, because they’re a means of keeping the mind just distracted enough so that bigger distractions won’t get in the way.

The same is true of counting beads with your fingers or a walking meditation. Keeping the body distracted mildly can also help from the big distractions that will come your way.

Walking meditation, or forest bathing, can also be a great bedtime ritual.

The idea of taking a walk after dinner is well rooted in many societies. However, it isn’t always possible. Weather and other factors should be considered.

If you do enjoy a walk in the evening and feel like it helps prep your body for bed, a walking meditation might be for you. It can also help with dinner digestion, which is one factor that can get in the way of a good night’s sleep.

It’s best to have a few hours between dinner and going to bed. But given the influx of chemicals and preservatives even in today’s “healthy foods,” dinner might be a big thorn in your quality of sleep.

A walking meditation can help mediate that factor. 

Beyond these frameworks of meditation, there really aren’t any rules. You don’t need to be in lotus position, and you don’t need to sit there for hours.

In fact, the longer you sit—especially in the beginning—the more uncomfortable it can be and the more likely you are to give up.

Experiment with mediation in the evening that works for you.

What sounds like it will help you slow down and prep for bed? That’s your body’s suggestion of what it needs and wants.

Listen, and you might quickly find yourself in a meditation practice that’s beneficial.

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