Adopting healthy bedtime rituals is important to getting enough shut-eye. The goal of any nighttime ritual is to find ways to unwind and prepare your body for sleep.
It’s not always easy to fall (and stay) asleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, you’re not alone.
While we may know having good sleeping habits is important, many of us may push sleep down on our priority list. Whether it’s trying to meet a deadline, staying up late to finish watching a show, or scrolling on social media, there are many reasons why we may not be getting restful sleep.
A helpful sleep routine can include light stretching, journaling, deep breathing, and guided sleep meditation.
Deep sleep meditation involves approaching bedtime with intention and setting yourself up for success mentally.
Like other forms of meditation, it can help you disconnect from the continual flow of thoughts and allow you to relax into this present moment, Kimberly Snyder, a spiritual and meditation teacher and author of “You Are More Than You Think You Are,” explains.
Is this the same as yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation also known as “yogic sleep” or “effortless relaxation,” which is usually practiced lying down, following the guidance of an instructor.
“It’s about sinking down to keep blissful awareness,” says Snyder. “While there can be crossover, deep sleep meditation can be broader and doesn’t always have to be conducted lying down.”
Yoga nidra is a special form of meditation that is slightly different from typical forms of deep sleep practices.
“Yoga nidra is a particular aspect of our consciousness where we maintain our fully awake awareness, while the physical body deeply rests,” says Katie Silcox, an ayurvedic specialist and yoga expert.
“This is different from typical sleep, where our mind goes unconscious,” Silcox, a New York Times bestselling authorof “Healthy Happy Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women” and founder of Shakti School, explains.
Benefits of sleep meditation
Can connect us to the here and now
One of the main benefits is feeling more present in the moment and in your body.
“Anxiety around fear of the future or the past can keep us in circular thoughts, which can keep us up with insomnia, or consistently waking up during the night. When you learn to relax and let go before bed, you set yourself up for a better night’s sleep,” Snyder states.
Can counter negative thoughts and emotions
Sleep meditation helps us let go of the fear, stress, and worry that can keep us awake.
“It enables us to access the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest, digestion, and recovery,” Silcox explains. “Most importantly, deep sleep meditation allows the conscious thinking mind to let go of and surrender into healing rest.”
What to expect in a well-rounded bedtime meditation
A well-rounded bedtime meditation may involve a guided audible experience using:
- body scanning
- soothing sounds, such as binaural beats
- relaxing music
Deep sleep meditations will typically offer some type of calming, slow delta wave binaural beats.
“These brainwave beats help our mind entrain to the type of waves we typically have during the deepest parts of our sleep. When our brain is in a delta wave pattern, our body can get the deepest forms of healing rest, and it’s easier to access the sleep state,” Silcox explains.
Another resource that Silcox recommends is BrainTap, which enables both delta wave binaural beats, as well as light therapy scientifically shown to increase the brain’s neuroplasticity.
You might expect the narration to be slow and soothing. Throughout the meditation, the instructions should be helping you relax both your mind and body. Toward the end of the meditation, the voice pace will usually slow down as you drift into a deeper state of relaxation.
Everyone falls asleep at different rates, so you can experiment with the duration of the meditation. They can range from 20 minutes to an hour in length.
What to watch out for
While YouTube has a large cache of free guided meditations, there may still be commercials that can abruptly interrupt the exercise designed to quiet your mind. The only sure way to avoid commercials is to get a paid subscription.
Paid apps such as Calm or Headspace are ad-free.
Popular sleep meditations
To help you get started, you may want to consider sleep meditation suggestions. Here are several examples:
Establishing healthy bedtime rituals is an essential part of getting a good night’s sleep. While there are many ways to relax your mind and body, one of the most effective can be guided meditation.
When looking for a guided meditation, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind:
- avoiding videos with too many commercial breaks