Do you want to sleep better? If so, it’s important that you understand how to use meditation to aid rather than hinder sleep. Sleep is a huge issue for many people I teach and coach about meditation and mindfulness. It also happens to be an issue I’ve personally struggled with off and on over the years for various reasons. There’s a lot of misleading information out there about meditation and sleep and there are certain meditations that are best not to do at bedtime.
There are many reasons why people sleep so poorly. The most common reasons range from stress, anxiety, worry, and depression to lifestyle choices like lack of exercise, poor diet, to chronic pain. Because of the world that we live in, we go to bed usually feeling revved up and exhausted all at the same time. We close our eyes and find our minds are still going a million miles an hour.
I’m a big believer and advocate for dealing with the problem from the inside-out and alleviating the underlying issue rather than putting a band aid on the problem.
For example, if you have issues with sleep because of imbalances in your stress hormones and you deal with the issue by taking a sleeping pill or drinking alcohol to unwind, you will likely have made your hormone imbalance worse, as well as created a whole other set of imbalances in an effort to deal with the sleep issue.
Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools for dealing with sleep issues because these practices impact the underlying issues and aren’t a band aid. Having said that, there are times when meditation can compound your sleep issues rather than help them. No wonder it’s so confusing for people!
When I share in my workshops that a regular meditation practice can help improve sleep, most people naturally make the assumption that this means doing meditation at bedtime will help with sleep. The problem is that it is not that simple and it really depends on the type of meditation you’re doing.
There are so many types of meditation out there and some of them help with sleep when done at bedtime, while others actually hinder sleep.
It’s no wonder people are confused about which practices to try when to do them and what effect they will have.
For example, the mainstay of my own personal daily meditation practice is the SEED Meditation Method (Simple, Easy, Every Day). This is a mantra-based meditation, which helps me to settle my mind, become more alert, focused and able to concentrate. When I finish my practice I often feel refreshed, recharged and ready to carry on with the day. I definitely don’t feel sleepy and ready for bed. This is not a meditation practice that I would personally do or recommend be done at bedtime.
The catch is that even though the actual practice isn’t done at bedtime, it improves my sleep by balancing out my stress hormones that hinder sleep, decreases my anxiety and worry overall and makes my nervous system happy which means better sleep.
In other words, the meditation practice I do every morning and most afternoons helps when I shut my eyes to go to sleep at night. I have found that because I do the practices regularly throughout the day, I don’t need additional practices at bedtime. If I did, however, there are definitely practices that when done a bedtime help with sleep and I will review those in my next post.
I would love to hear from you if you have sleep troubles or have found practices that help you sleep.