Meditation is becoming more and more popular in the Western world as people are becoming more aware of the benefits of this mindfulness technique. However, there is some confusion over whether being in a deep place of meditation is the same as being asleep and whether it is possible to meditate while you are asleep.
You cannot meditate when you are in a deep sleep; however, there are intense states of relaxation that you can achieve through meditation which will benefit you as much as a restful night’s sleep.
In this article, we will be looking at how meditation can improve the quality of sleep and how it may help with getting a better night’s sleep.
Can You Meditate While You Sleep?
There is a common misconception that meditating means that you should try to completely clear the mind until it is devoid of thoughts, but this is not the case. The idea of mindfulness meditation is to be in the present moment and focus. You do not need to get rid of all thoughts to achieve this.
Most meditation practitioners will tell you that you must find a peaceful place in your mind and rather than trying to push each thought away; you should acknowledge it and then move it to one side – perhaps in the same way that you would acknowledge a passing cloud. Try not to pay too much attention to the thought or focus on it but respect the idea that your mind is active.
Known as the monkey mind; many people find it difficult to retain focus even through their best efforts. Guided meditation can help with this, and many such guided meditations are designed to help with sleep quality and staying asleep.
But it is important to remember that while there are meditations that can help with falling asleep; once you have fallen to sleep, you enter a different state of mind to that which you will experience during meditation. If you are looking to relax the body and mind during the day for a boost, then you might find that meditating to a relaxation practice is more effective.
These practices focus on breathing and guided imagery to take you to a place of deep relaxation; you might feel as though you are in a trance-like state, but you won’t fall asleep. This is a common practice for people who struggle with stress or feel like they need to rejuvenate the body during the day, perhaps for a day-time sleep.
In contrast, if you are looking for mindfulness meditation to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, then you will need to find a sleep meditation that will help you to fall asleep.
How Do You Meditate For Sleep?
For people who struggle with insomnia, when they go to bed, it can be more of a stressful experience than one that is filled with rest and relaxation. However, there are several guided meditation practice routines that you can do to get better sleep, and the best part is that you may do them from the comfort of your bed.
There is one very common meditation practise known as Yoga Nidra, which aims to totally relax the mind, move it away from distracting thoughts and help you to fall asleep easily. The idea of this type of meditation is to bring awareness to each part of the body and focus on relaxing them.
There are several variations on guided sleep meditation, and there are many apps and tutorials online that can guide you towards a better sleep; an excellent relaxation meditation can be found here. But for the purposes of this article, we will look at yoga Nidra since this does not need to be guided and is something that you can try in bed at the end of every day without any previous experience of sleep meditation.
To start with, you will need to lie down in bed and close your eyes. Try to make sure that you have done everything you need to that day so that there is nothing that might serve as a distraction.
You will start the sleep meditation by setting an intention; in most cases, this will be to get to sleep, but you might place your focus on other things; there is no right or wrong, and meditation should always be a personal experience.
Once your intention is set, you will now need to focus on your inner resource; this is far less complicated than it sounds. Your inner resource could be anything; many people have an internal ‘happy place’ such as a beach, the mountains or simply in a special room, the important thing is that the place should make you feel safe. As well as accessing this place when you are in bed, you can access it throughout the day whenever you are stressed; couple it with some deep breathing and the advantages of meditation will far exceed sleep.
Any thought or idea that enters your mind should be observed but not given your full attention; as we mentioned earlier, you may treat them as passing clouds. This might seem difficult when you are starting, but even the most experienced meditation enthusiasts have the odd time where their thoughts are hard to shift – don’t give up.
Now that you are getting more relaxed, you will need to bring your awareness to your breathing; in some meditation practices, you will need to alter the way you breathe, but for sleep meditation, you just need to let yourself focus on how you breathe naturally – observe this and let your body do what it is so good at doing.
Now comes a body scan. This is a great method to help with falling asleep and can be used on its own if you do not wish to go through an entire guided sleep practice. The idea is to bring your awareness to each part of the body – take your time but make sure that you are comfortable on the bed as this works best when you stay still.
You can begin at the toes and really focus on them, some like to imagine them becoming heavier and heavier whereas others prefer to imagine them completely relaxing and that relaxation radiating across the body. Either method will drastically improve the quality of your sleep and help you to wind down more easily.
After this, you should notice that you naturally fall to sleep without even thinking about it, but if the method is not working as well as you had hoped, there is some suggestion that an evening yoga session can be an excellent way to complement your sleep meditation.
What Are The Benefits Of A Sleep Meditation?
It is recommended that adults get around 7 hours of sleep each night, but there are a lot of people who, even when trying to get enough sleep, are still getting just a few hours sleep every night and waking up in the day to feel tired and faced with a lot of stress.
There is some speculation that doing a calm activity such as reading is useful when we get into bed, but in truth, the brain is still working to take in all of that information. To fall to sleep, you must let your brain calm down – reading will only serve to keep it awake.
Meditation has an incredible number of benefits regardless of whether you are practising to improve sleep or for another reason, such as stress relief or to improve your concentration. But when it comes to a guided sleep meditation, you will start to notice a lot of different advantages from the first time you do the sleep meditation.
The first thing that you will notice is that you will sleep better; many of those who struggle with insomnia are able to get to sleep but remaining asleep can be more challenging. This type of guided meditation will relax your body and gently guide you into a restful sleep that will last through the night.
A lot of the time, the body is too tense to get proper rest and thoughts fly around your mind causing you to stay awake into the early hours. Since sleep meditation will work to calm the body, the mind will quickly follow.
There are many other physical advantages of any type of meditation; like the fact that it can help reduce blood pressure which in turn, may lower your stress levels – something that many of us are all too familiar with in this modern life.
It has also been scientifically proven that meditating helps the body in other ways; you will likely feel better in general with the practice being able to improve pain as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, both of which can be exacerbated through a lack of sleep through the night.
Furthermore, in this modern time, more and more people are looking for a way to combat sleep problems and other health issues with a natural solution. It is right that you might think this way since taking sleep medications may have unwanted effects on the body. Guided sleep meditation is totally natural and is something that you can do every night for as long as you need without any side effects on the body.
There are millions of people around the world who struggle with insomnia, and this could be how easily they are able to get to sleep or their quality of sleep. A lot of folks can go to sleep without an issue, but remaining asleep can be more challenging, and it is little wonder when we look at the stresses of modern life.
A great well to aid with sleep is to turn to meditation which has been proven time and again to lull you to sleep but more importantly will cause you to remain asleep.
That being said, there are some who wonder whether it is possible to meditate while you are asleep, yet this is not feasible. The brain must be aware and focused on taking part in a meditation practice, and this includes any that are designed with improving sleep in mind.
However, the good news is that there are meditation practices that can both send you to sleep or put you in a completely relaxed frame of mind, perfect for getting a day-time boost.