Sleep Meditation: Types and Techniques

In a world that has become so fast-paced and requires us to be constantly active for the whole day, sleep problems have become so prevalent and a good night’s sleep can feel like a luxury for the majority of people. But rest assured, you’re not alone in your struggle. According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, approximately 48 percent of adults are struggling with sleeping troubles such as insomnia, restless sleep, and sleep apnoea. Fortunately, there’s a powerful tool that might be the ultimate solution to solve these problems: sleep meditation.

Sleep meditation isn’t necessarily a technique to force yourself to sleep or achieve complete mental silence. Instead, it’s about gently guiding mind and body towards a state of calmness and relaxation, eventually preparing for a proper night’s sleep. This blog will delve towards a number of topics surrounding sleep meditation, from the reasoning behind sleep meditation, various types of sleep meditation techniques, and also finding the best suggestion of properly incorporating sleep meditation into your bedtime routine.

Why Choose Sleep Meditation?

For a long time, meditation practices have been used to cultivate inner peace and well-being for individuals, which might help reduce multiple mental-related issues, with sleeping problems being one of them. And as of recent years, the world of science is catching up on the benefits of meditation, where multiple researches and studies have been conducted to understand the effects provided by meditation techniques, including how it helps reduce sleeping problems. Here’s a glimpse into some studies exploring the positive effects of some of the sleep meditation techniques:

  • Improved Sleep Quality: A 2015 study explored the impacts of mindfulness meditation, one of the techniques of sleep meditation, towards the quality of sleep within older adults. The results were promising, as mindfulness meditation led to significant improvements such as an increase in sleep quality, sleep duration, and daytime functioning.
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Sleep disturbances and stress often go hand-in-hand, as stress is one of the main catalysts that negatively affect sleep quality, especially among adults. A review that analysed studies on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as one of the techniques for sleep meditation concluded that MBSR interventions were effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Cognitive Benefits:  A 2013 study explored the effects of sleep meditation on sleep quality and its correlation with cognitive processes that can be affected by sleeping problems. The study highlighted mainly positive effects, as the meditation practices might improve sleep quality by enhancing cognitive processes related to sleep regulation.

Popular Sleep Meditation Techniques

Now, here are some of the popular sleep meditation techniques that you can easily incorporate into your bedtime routine:

The many forms of sleep meditation techniques
  • Cyclic Meditation (CM): Cyclic meditation is one of the techniques that comprises a set of stimulation and relaxation based practices and involves cycles of body postures like yoga and relaxation techniques such as supine rest.
    One study has proven that practising cyclic meditation at least twice a day has improved sleep quality, from increase in sleeping duration to a reduction in disturbances during sleep.
  • Transcendental Meditation (TM): Transcendental meditation is a meditation technique introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during the twentieth century, which involves the silent repetition of a mantra for 15-20 minutes twice a day while sitting comfortably with closed eyes.
    Multiple researchers have studied the effects of transcendental meditation for decades, specifically towards helping sleeping problems, and most of the results conducted have shown that transcendental meditation helped facilitate a deep state of rest similar to sleep, which is beneficial for people with sleep disorders.
    One recent study that focuses toward healthcare workers has shown that meditation helped improve stress outcomes that correlate with sleeping problems such as burnout, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Mindfulness Meditation (MM): Mindfulness meditation involves  focusing on breathing and bringing the mind’s attention to the present moment. This practice helps prevent  drifting into concerns about the past or future, which may cause insomnia and other sleep problems.
    One study suggests that mindfulness meditation can improve some sleep parameters in patients with insomnia, although the results tend to be not as significant. However, mindfulness meditation can serve as an auxiliary treatment alongside medication for people with multiple sleep problems.
  • Hollow and Empty Meditation (HEM):  Hollow and empty meditation is one of the sleep meditation techniques introduced by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which follows the broader concept of “emptying the mind” through meditation aimed at achieving thoughtless awareness and mental clarity.
    Although research on the effects of HEM is relatively limited and requires more study, a study in 2021 found that the technique improved sleep quality and duration.The prolonged effects of the meditation were apparent even more than 40 days after starting the practice.
  • Guided Meditation: Guided meditation is a meditation technique where individuals meditate under the guidance of a trained practitioner or a recorded audio session. It involves visualisation, mindfulness, or focusing on specific thoughts or sensations in order to achieve mental calmness.
    One research found that an application-based guided meditation through video or audio helps improve multiple issues that correlate with sleep problems, such as fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive and somatic pre-sleep arousal.

How to Implement A Proper Meditation

Now that we’ve explored the science behind some of the popular sleep meditation techniques, let’s delve into how to incorporate this practice into your bedtime routine. Here are some essential tips to help you create a peaceful and sleep-conducive experience in the future:

  • Create a Comfortable Environment
    A relaxing environment for your meditation sessions can be a good start. Try to provide a calming surrounding, either by dimming the lights in your bedroom or trying to adjust the temperature inside the room to find a comfortable space. Using calming scents like lavender or chamomile candles can be another way to create a comfortable atmosphere in your room.
  • Find a Comfortable Position
    After finding a comfortable environment, now try finding a comfortable position for your meditation. You can start by meditating with different positions, from sitting upright, lying down, or even in a gentle reclined position. Try experimenting to find what feels most comfortable for you, and thus allowing you to stay alert but relaxed during meditating sessions.
  • Pick Sounds that Comfort You
    This is essentially a preference for you, whether you prefer  complete silence in your room, or you prefer gentle background noises such as nature recordings or calming music that may be soothing. Try to experiment between the sounds to find out what works best for you.
  • Focus on Your Breath
    A cornerstone of many meditations, including sleep meditations, is focusing on your breath. Try to notice your breathing, from the natural rise and fall of your chest to the abdomen with every inhale and exhale that you take. If your mind starts to wander around and lose focus in the process, gently bring your attention back to your breath without judgement.
  • Start Short and Be Patient
    Don’t immediately aim for long meditation sessions right away, since you may struggle from the get go. Try to start with a relatively short session, such as 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. Remember, consistency is key. Aim to practise most nights before bed for optimal results.
  • Lower Expectations
    The main goal of engaging in sleep meditation isn’t to force yourself to sleep as soon as possible or clear your mind blank completely. It’s about quieting your internal chatter and allowing your body and mind to relax. If any unwanted thoughts arise that cause you to lose focus on your already relaxed body and mind, acknowledge them gently and return your focus immediately to your chosen meditation technique.
  • Be Kind to Yourself
    Don’t get discouraged if you find your mind wandering during meditation, since it’s a natural occurrence and anyone may experience it at some point. Simply acknowledge the distraction and gently bring your attention back to your focus. With regular practice, you’ll find it easier to maintain focus and experience the calming benefits of sleep meditation of your choice.

By incorporating these tips into your bedtime routine, you can transform sleep meditation from a simple practice into a powerful tool for unlocking a night of restful sleep. So, dim the lights, find your comfortable position, and embark on a journey towards a peaceful and rejuvenating slumber.

Important Things To Note Upon Starting Sleep Meditation

Sleep meditation is a powerful tool to combat sleep disturbances and unlock a good night’s rest. Experiment with different techniques, find what works best for you, and remember, consistency is key. With regular practice, sleep meditation can become a cornerstone of your bedtime routine, paving the way for restorative sleep  and a re-energised you.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

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