Make Sleep a Priority With This Beginner's Guide to Bedtime Meditation
Most would agree that a solid eight hours of sleep is important for good health, and it's well-known that ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to a myriad of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. An unfortunate statistic, an estimated 33-50% of people are affected by insomnia.
With the fast pace and stress of modern life and the interruptions in natural sleep rhythms that come with technological advancements, it’s really not surprising.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can try to help you calm down and unwind at the end of the day. One of them is meditation.
While the concept of meditation can seem daunting to a beginner, it’s actually quite simple. Follow these steps and a peaceful slumber will be within your reach:
1) FIRST, SET THE STAGE FOR RELAXATION
When you step into your bedroom, you should be stepping away from the stress of the day and into a relaxing space.
To create a peaceful oasis for your bedtime meditation routine, try the following:
- Put on some calming music. Nature sounds or soothing classical music are both great options.
- Diffuse essential oils known to promote relaxation, such as lavender, chamomile, or ylang ylang.
- Purchase soft bedding designed for ultimate comfort. While it may seem like a luxury at first glance, the right fabric can actually make a big difference in your sleep. Look for a high-quality fabric that is breathable and smooth, such as PeachSkinSheets. If you’re a warm sleeper, a SMART fabric like this will keep you cool at night; if you’re a cool sleeper, you’ll stay cozy.
2) SET ASIDE WORRIES ABOUT DOING IT “RIGHT” AND JUST GET STARTED
People sometimes avoid meditation, because they don’t think they can do it “right.” They’re easily distracted; those thoughts just keep coming, so they figure it's just not for them. If you’re worried about doing it “wrong,” you’re missing the point.
Mindfulness meditation is all about about awareness of your thoughts and not judging them. Just take them as they come, acknowledge them, and know that it’s common for the mind to wander.
After laying down in a comfortable bed, the first step is to become aware of your thoughts, your breathing, and how your body is feeling. We often don’t realize how tense and anxious we’ve become. Take the time to check in about how you are feeling. Consciously. No judgement allowed.
- How do you feel?
- Is your body tense and rigid?
- Are you holding your breath?
- Are your thoughts racing? If so, what are they?
Allow yourself to acknowledge your feelings, good or bad, and just let them ‘be.’
3) NOW, FOCUS ON YOUR BREATHING
You’ll likely find that the breaths you are taking are shallow or you may be holding your breath entirely as your mind races.
There are different breathing techniques you can you use to begin calming your body. One is diaphragmatic breathing, and it’s simpler than it sounds. It's breathing in through the nose, from the abdomen, while counting to ten, then exhaling through the nose, also while counting to ten. Repeat several times. Once you're calmed, let your breathing become natural and focus on that.
As you go through your meditation routine, always refocus on your breathing when your mind wanders.
4) RELAX EACH PART OF YOUR BODY
Start with your toes and move up to each part of your body. Notice how each part feels. Feel it sinking into the mattress, and letting go of the stress of the day. Give each part of your body permission to “switch off.”
5) FOR EXTRA GUIDANCE, GIVE GUIDED MEDITATION A TRY
It’s common to be distracted during meditation, and it does take practice. Some people find guided meditation to be helpful. If you find that you just can’t get into it on your own, here is a soothing video you can listen to; it will walk you through the process of meditating, and it’s surprisingly helpful.