Struggling to get to sleep at night is a problem that we all face at some point in our lives. For some of us, it’s a rare occurrence that while being inconvenient, doesn’t negatively impact our lives too much. For others, it’s a curse that plagues most, if not all of our evenings. In this article, we are going to look at one of the tried and tested methods for helping you get those 8 hours of rest: sleep meditation. We’ll take a look at some of the different methods as well as exploring why each is such an effective method.
What is Meditation?
Many people view meditation as the practice of emptying the mind which is a rather inaccurate depiction of what it really is. Meditation is more akin to quietening the mind. If you were to imagine yourself sitting next to a busy road, meditation wouldn’t be about making the passing traffic disappear or stop.
Instead, it would be about noticing each car and each individual noise until your awareness becomes so honed in that you can notice each passing thought as if it were a bubble passing in front of your eyes.
Meditation serves a number of different purposes and can be carried out in a number of different ways in order to get different results. Some people use meditation to explore deeper parts of their mind, reaching out to try and connect with their subconscious.
Other people will use meditation as a way of combating anxiety or reducing stress in order to help them relax. Different aims require different approaches. So what would you do when you’re trying to find a meditation for sleep? There are several different approaches to sleep meditation. We’ll take a look at each of them in detail.
Simple Sleep meditation Techniques
It doesn’t matter whether you’re searching for meditations for insomnia or just to help you drift off on one of the odd occasions that you can’t get to sleep. Meditations for insomnia (or otherwise) all follow the same basic approach.
There are a few key steps that we need to consider before diving straight into the meditation itself.
For starters, you want to make sure that you prepare physically, mentally and spiritually for both a meditative session and a good night’s sleep. The first step (and probably the hardest for some people) is to stop looking at screens of any kind at least an hour before bed. If possible you should aim for two hours.
Of course, it can be difficult to focus on your meditation if you’re likely to be disturbed. If you live with others, let them know that you’re heading to bed and lock your door so that you won’t have your thoughts interrupted. You may choose to use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to really help you concentrate.
Sleep meditation is perhaps the easiest form of meditation because you don’t have a conscious goal or objective. You simply keep going until you sleep. Once you’re comfortable in bed you can move onto the next step of sleep meditation.
Meditation, including sleep meditation, is all about focus. You’re not trying to push thoughts out of your mind. Instead, you are trying to focus so intently on certain things that the mere act of thinking begins to feel slowed down and predictable. Most people start with their breathing.
For sleep meditation or any meditation that serves to help you relax, the most effective breathing technique is known as box breathing.
You want to breathe in slowly to a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, and then repeat. You’re focusing on two things here: the act of breathing (e.g. the rising and falling of your chest, the feeling of air passing in and out of your nose, the movement in your diaphragm) and the counting.
Some people will count 1, 2, 3, and 4 while others will include the breath in/out and the holding into the same count i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
For many people, the breathing stage of meditation is all they will need. There’s no time limit for how long it will take each person to fall asleep. For some it will be a couple of minutes, for others, it could be 30 minutes or more. If you find that it isn’t working then you can begin to expand your awareness.
Notice the temperature in the air as you continue to count and breathe. Add new items every so often but always continue to be aware of the previous ones. For example, you might notice your heartbeat or all the points of contact between you and the bed.
Guided meditation for sleep
Meditation isn’t something you have to tackle on your own. If you’re new to meditation or have found that it’s been rather unsuccessful for you in the past, you may want to consider trying a guided meditation. A guided sleep meditation has the benefit of not relying on your own concentration.
Instead of only having your inner voice to listen to, you have somebody else’s voice to focus on. You will find that many forms of guided meditation will include music to help set the tone.
Another approach is guided meditation sleep hypnosis. Hypnosis is sort of a step up from meditation and can prove very effective in helping you to drift off. The slight problem with hypnosis is that not everyone is susceptible to its effects.
However, the music and voices are often very relaxing so even if the hypnosis or meditation aspect isn’t entirely effective, it could still be enough to finally help you fall asleep.