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Could sleep meditation be the secret to a solid eight hours?

Just five minutes of mindfulness can transform your slumber.
sleep meditation

Are you getting to the end of the day only to find yourself staring at the ceiling for what feels like hours on end? 

If your bedtime routine consists of checking your phone incessantly, combing back through the day or already worrying about tomorrow, then you might not be giving your mind and body the space to properly unwind.

A solution to your sleeping woes could be to practise meditation before you sleep. Whilst meditation isn’t the silver bullet to cure insomnia, it can transport you to a place of calmness right before bedtime which can produce better sleep.

Here’s everything you need to know about sleep meditation.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that has existed for thousands of years. It is the act of developing discipline, attention, mindfulness and calmness. Meditation can be done through a range of techniques such as body scanning, breathwork or focus exercises.

sleep meditation
Meditation manages stress and encourages mindfulness, which can promote better sleep.

How can meditation help sleep?

While meditation is conducive to promoting a more mindful and calm mental space at any time of day, it is particularly beneficial before sleep. Meditation can transport the mind and body from a waking state to a relaxed state.

“Sleep is absolutely critical to our mental and physical wellbeing,” explains author and meditation teacher Caitlin Cady. “There are more sleep studies than you can shake a stick at, and they all point to the incredibly healing and restorative benefits of sleep.”

Meditating before sleep doesn’t need to be another consuming activity to add to your day. Whilst you could easily meditate for up to half an hour, you can also prime yourself for sleep with as little as just five minutes of meditation. 

“Meditating before bed is an effective way to wrap up your day. It’s a perfect way to transition from doing everything to resting, relaxing and just being,” Caitlin tells The Weekly.

“Meditation soothes your nervous system, calms your mind and slows any protracted problem-solving, rehashing and future planning that’s best left for the clean slate of morning.” 

Assess your sleep hygiene first

Before adding meditation to your sleep regime, it is a good idea to assess your sleep hygiene as a whole. Sleep hygiene refers to the factors that make up your sleep environment, behaviour and habits which determine how good or bad your night’s rest will be.

sleep meditation
Assessing your sleep hygiene can also ensure a better sleep.

Here’s some quick and easy sleep hygiene rules:

  • Go to bed the same time each night.
  • Remove electronics, televisions and other distractions from the bedroom.
  • Ensure your room is quiet, dark and relaxing.
  • Avoid large meals and caffeine in the hours leading up to your bedtime.

How to practice sleep meditation

Now that you’ve considered your sleep hygiene, you’re now ready to begin the practice of sleep meditation. Here’s some ways you can start incorporating meditation into your sleep routine.

  • Listen to a guided meditation: If you’re new to meditation and you’re not quite sure what to do, try listening to a guided meditation. You can find a plethora of different guided sleep meditations on YouTube, on iTunes or even on apps
  • Practice breathing exercises: If you’re not quite ready to jump into a full-blown meditation, try breathing exercises instead. “Try counting your breath with an emphasis on exhalation,” Caitlin recommends. “For example, in for 4 and out for 8. OR do square breathing (in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, pause for 4). Even five minutes of breathing this way will impact your nervous system in a big way.”
  • Do a body scan: A body scan is another technique you can incorporate into your sleep meditation regime. Either lying down or in a seated position, close your eyes and start at the top of your head and work your way through every part of your body down to your toes. For each body part, focus your entire awareness to it and its sensations.

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