Far from a new age trend, meditation has been proven to provide a variety of physical and mental health advantages including enhancing your concentration, reducing stress, managing pain, lowering your overall blood pressure and even helping to improve your sleep.
If you plan to use meditation to help improve your daily rest, daily meditation practice is usually suggested. However, it's alright to start small and work up to daily practice. If you're feeling intimidated as a beginner, you could start out with some brief mini-meditation sessions throughout the day if you feel the need to relax your body and to calm yourself in general.
The question is: should you meditate before bed? Let's take a look at the facts.
What’s The Best Time to Meditate?
Right When You Wake Up
As your morning routine sets the tone and the rhythm for your day, we recommend getting into the habit of meditating as soon as you wake up. Try to take a quiet moment while you wait for your coffee to brew or your stove to heat up, and practice a moment of mindfulness.
At times meditation can seem daunting for beginners, so rather than burning yourself out with an exhaustive routine, you may want to start with a short guided relaxation. Try to focus on your breath and be an observer of your thoughts rather than an active participant. Even if all you have is five minutes for deep breathing, it can help to set the stage for your whole day.
When You’re Stressed
We all experience stressful moments in our day, from road rage to performance anxiety. When we're busy we tend to put off processing the stress these moments cause until the end of the day, causing our minds to race. Rather than allowing these moments to build and keep causing stress, you might want to consider meditating throughout the day.
While it might not be safe or realistic for you to close your eyes and breathe deeply while you're in heavy traffic or in the middle of an important work meeting, there are plenty of moments where it is appropriate to mediate, such as before a meeting, once you park your car, or after a stressful phone call.
Processing your stress and emotions as they arise throughout the day may help you feel like you have less to deal with when you're getting ready for bed. The idea is to help your mind stay centered on the present, especially when you're trying to rest.
Whenever You Can
On some days there is just no time for a routine. Maybe you got called into work, or your sick child woke you up. Rather than feeling defeated and losing your routine, allow yourself to practice meditation throughout the day as needed. A common misconception about meditation is that you need a quiet and tranquil yoga studio to relax.
In reality, all you need is a spot peaceful enough for you to avoid distractions. This could be your car before you go into work, your kitchen table at breakfast, or even a doctors office waiting room. When you feel that time or pressure is piling on, taking a few minutes to meditate could potentially help you ease your mind, relax you and allow you to think clearly.
How To Meditate Before Bed (And See Benefits)
- There are many ways to meditate, ranging from meeting in a group for religious practice to using an app to help you improve your mindfulness. Whichever you decide, we recommend starting at least an hour before you plan to be asleep to allow you to experience all the benefits of meditation, rather than just relaxing yourself to sleep.
- We recommend finding a quiet and peaceful place to relax. Start by focusing on your breath, taking deep breaths at first and then settling into a natural rhythm. Rather than trying to cut yourself off from the rest of the world, allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings, but as an observer, not a participant.
- As thoughts begin to enter your mind, allow yourself to acknowledge them, and then let them pass by, disconnecting yourself from the past and future, and focusing solely on the present.
- At first it may be difficult to maintain this level of focus, which is okay. The more you practice, the easier you will fall into a relaxed and present state, allowing your mind to stop racing, and your body to naturally help you fall asleep once you finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Meditation Before Bed Help Me Sleep Better?
There’s strong evidence to suggest that regular meditation can help improve your quality of sleep. Similarly to how exercise promotes physical health, exercising your mind is equally essential for our mental health. Some guided meditations can walk you through simple techniques to relax before bed; however, starting the simple habit of daily meditation can profoundly affect your sleep quality.
Can It Help Me Have Lucid Dreams?
According to a study done by the National Institute of Health, there have been observed correlations between lucid dreaming and long-term meditation. Common benefits include particularly heightened states of awareness and decentering facets of mindfulness. These side effects of lucid dreams could allow individuals to manage anxiety with further efficiency, and enable you to better relax and rest at the end of the day.
Reasons Not To Do It Before You Sleep
There’s a variety of ways to go about meditating, some forms promote relaxation, but many awaken the mind, allowing one to “see” clearly.
We all have our own experiences, and these distort our vision of reality. Meditation helps individuals see life free of personal leanings, allowing us to appreciate it for what it truly is, rather than what we perceive it to be.
Some believe it’s wise to avoid meditation before sleep since the practice can bring out sensations of focus and awareness. However, one of the aims of mindfulness is to increase mental clarity and a common byproduct is less anxiety, allowing one to relax. Whether you decide to meditate before bed or not is up to you and how you prefer to practice.
Depending on what type of meditation you practice, practicing mindfulness before bed could significantly enhance nighttime relaxation. The peace and sense of calm the habit brings can offer enormous benefits in gaining deeper, more sound sleep.
While getting into meditation can feel challenging or foreign at first, like anything, it takes patience. Regular practice and repetition are essential.
It’s commonly said that there is no “wrong” way to meditate, and we agree. If you find yourself struggling to focus as thoughts arise, don't be discouraged. Gently let them go and return to your meditation.
Sources and References:
- Supercharge Your Sleep by Meditating Before Bed – lifehack.org
- Four Good Times of Day to Meditate (And One to Avoid) – psychologytoday.com
- How to Meditate Before Bed – sleep.org