Practicing sleep meditation might be one of the best ways to relax your body and calm your mind. With a calm mind and relaxed body, sleep comes close enough to catch with your next breath.
The science of sleep meditation
… It lessens stress & improves sleep
Studies show learning and incorporating a consistent mindful meditation practice can be even more effective than learning and practicing better sleep hygiene when it comes to treating insomnia. Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, speaks about patients’ successes with mindfulness meditation in a Harvard Health Publishing article. Benson describes mindfulness meditation as a successful way to induce a “relaxation response … a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure. For many people, sleep disorders are closely tied to stress.”
Many times when we can’t sleep at night, it’s because our mind is spinning, playing worries on repeat. When we train ourselves in mindfulness meditation, we break the cycle of stressful, repetitive thoughts than can keep us from winding down into relaxation at night. Dr. Benson further explains why practicing mindfulness meditation can create a response that can in turn help us sleep at night:
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” says Benson. “That way, it’s easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep.”
It can become so relaxing, you might sometimes have to try not to fall asleep when engaging in your mindfulness meditation practice.
“The relaxation response is so, well, relaxing that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving (as in yoga or tai chi) so as to avoid nodding off,” advises Benson.
A sleep meditation to try
You can practice mindfulness meditation sitting up during the day, but if you’re ready for bed you can practice your sleep meditation as you’re lying in bed ready to drift off. Here’s a guided sleep meditation for you to press play on once you’re ready to lie down, clear your mind, unwind your body, and allow sleep to sweep over you …
If you find sleep meditation to be an effective and soothing practice that improves your sleep quality — and/or your overall health and well-being — share it with a friend. Couldn’t we all stand a little less stress, and a lot more rest?