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Can You Use Meditation for Rest?

A group of women are meditating in a fitness center.

Meditation can relax your body and give you a sense of calm. It’s an effective tool that you can use to fight insomnia and improve the quality of the sleep you get at night. If you’re asleep for less than 85% of the time you’re in bed at night, you’re not getting the rest you need.

Not only can you use meditation to correct these issues, but it can be a source of energy throughout the day.

How Meditation Can Improve Sleep

Attractive young African woman meditating in lotus position on bed.

Meditating can help to relax your body, priming you for a night of restful sleep. It can also relieve issues that can keep you from getting the rest you need at night. Studies have consistently shown that meditation has a positive effect on sleep quality, and experts believe there are several reasons for this.

Meditation Clears Your Brain of Distractions

Even when your body is telling you that it’s time to sleep, your brain may not cooperate. By meditating, you can flush out any distractions that are occupying your thoughts and clear your mind.

It Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Have you ever struggled to settle down at night because you were worried about something in your personal life? Stress and anxiety are common causes of insomnia, and meditation can treat both of these issues. After reviewing over 200 studies, researchers found that mindfulness meditation was an effective way to treat anxiety, depression, and stress.

Meditating Increases Melatonin Production

When it’s time for you to go to sleep, your brain produces a hormone called melatonin that makes you feel sleepy. Meditating can cause your body to produce more melatonin, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.

It Can Temporarily Ease Aches and Pains

It can be very difficult to fall asleep when you’re in physical pain. If chronic pain is keeping you up at night, meditation may give you enough relief to help you fall asleep. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a stress-reduction expert, meditation and mindfulness exercises can make chronic pain easier to manage.

Meditation Can Help You Deal With Disruptions

While it’s best to go to bed at the same time each night, that isn’t always possible. Meditation can make it easier for your body to adjust to disruptions that could potentially get in the way of your sleep. Even if you’re going to bed at a new time or in a new environment, you’ll still be able to relax your body and get a good night’s rest.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

Woman enjoys meditating and listening music with her headphone.

While all adults should try to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, some researchers have found that meditation can reduce the body’s need for sleep. One study from the University of Kentucky found that meditating improved reaction times in people that were sleep-deprived. Meditating can’t replace nightly sleep, but it can be a substitute for a nap.

If you’re feeling groggy and are struggling to complete day-to-day tasks, try taking a short break to meditate. A meditation session can leave you feeling refreshed and better-prepared to take on challenges.

How to Meditate Before Bed

Young man meditating in bedroom in the morning.

No matter when you choose to meditate, meditation can have a positive impact on your sleep quality. However, meditating right before bed can be an especially effective way to settle down at the end of a long day. You can meditate while you’re in bed trying to sleep or include meditation in your nighttime routine.

If you’re new to meditation, you can start out with short, 5-10 minute meditation sessions. Once you’re more comfortable, you can meditate for longer stretches of time. While there are many ways to meditate, these meditation techniques are especially effective when you’re preparing for sleep:

Deep Breathing

Slow, deep breathing can slow your heart rate and calm your body, putting you in a state of relaxation that’s ideal for sleep. You can do deep breathing exercises before bed or after you’ve already settled into bed for the night. Inhale air as though you’re sipping it through a straw, then gently exhale.

Focus your attention on your breath, shutting out outside thoughts. If possible, try to match your breathing patterns with your heart rate.

Progressive Relaxation

This style of meditation asks you to tense and relax every muscle in your body, from top to bottom. You apply tension to the target muscle for about 5 seconds, then release that tension. Focus on relaxing your target muscle for at least 15 seconds before moving on to the next muscle.

Instead of tensing your muscles, you can also focus your attention on every part of your body. Try to put all of your focus on a specific area, paying attention to any and all sensations you’re feeling. This can help to put you in tune with your body, leaving you more relaxed.

Guided Meditation

If meditation is something you struggle with, you may benefit from guided meditation. As its name suggests, this style of meditation has someone guide you through every step of the process. Some guided meditations are designed for specific activities, like sleep.

Using Guided Sleep Meditation

A relaxed and sleeping man in his bed.

Most guided sleep meditation exercises will ask you to listen to an audio recording while you’re in bed. The recording will walk you through a meditation exercise designed to help you drift off to sleep. There are many apps that offer a selection of guided meditation exercises, and you can also find recordings online.

Since you’ll be using the recording to fall asleep, it’s a good idea to listen to the exercise at least once before you use it in bed. That way, you can confirm that the recording is free of any distractions that could get in the way of your sleep. It’s best to limit your usage of blue-light devices like cell phones in the hour before you go to sleep, which means you should use guided meditation apps with some caution.

Find a suitable recording and make sure it’s ready to go before bedtime. That way, the only thing you’ll have to do is hit the “play” button when you’re ready for bed. Some guided meditation exercises also include sounds that are designed to promote relaxation.

These sounds could help your body to get more deep sleep, which is the most regenerative stage of sleep. Dan Gartenberg, a sleep scientist, says that certain sounds can stimulate deep sleep. “[These] sounds are actually at the same burst frequency as your brain waves when your brain is in deep sleep.

That sound matter actually primes your mind to have more of these regenerative delta waves.”

Can You Meditate and Then Go Back to Sleep?

A couple seriously meditating in the morning.

Many people have no trouble falling asleep at night. However, if they wake up in the middle of the night, they may struggle to go back to sleep. Meditation can help your body to relax again so that you can resume your sleep as soon as possible.

If you’re using meditation to go back to sleep, it’s best to do your meditation right in bed. Lie down with your eyes closed and focus all of your attention on your breathing. If a thought pops into your head, let it go and turn your thoughts back towards your breathing.

You can think of meditation as an exercise for winding back down once you’ve woken up. Stick to simple meditation exercises that will gently encourage your body to go back to sleep.