Sleep Meditation Can Significantly Improve Rest


Sleep meditation is simply a pre-bedtime meditation designed to help you get better sleep.

In fact, sleep meditation helps both in quality and quantity of sleep. The practice itself focuses on relieving stress and integrates breath-work.

Sleeplessness is far more common than you might think. Up to a third of people experience issues such as difficulty falling and staying asleep. While one in ten are said to experience insomnia regularly.

The stress of not sleeping accumulates over time. And even if you are getting normal sleep once in a while, sleep alone does not dissolve the accumulated stress of day-in-and-day-out pressures of daily life; this is where meditation comes in.

So why can’t people sleep anymore?

There can be health issues that contribute to sleep-related problems, however the number offender seems to be anxiety. Research suggests that half of the people who have experienced insomnia blame the problem on stress and worry.

Sleep meditation is one of those 3-for-1 deals because it directly relieves stress, gives us an extra opportunity to rest, and it improves sleep quality itself. Actually, that is just scratching the surface so let me unpack this a little.

I recently found an article on Mindful Muscle saying:

“We can learn how to get better sleep without the side effects of medication.

“Humans spend about one-third of their lives sleeping, so it should come as no surprise that sleep is such an important part of our daily lives. We’ve also been seeing a huge interest in the concept of mindfulness and how being mindful throughout the day can significantly benefit your health and well-being.”

“Now it’s time to bring these two interconnected concepts together to put mindfulness practices to work for better sleep.”

“Increasingly, scientific researchers have been investigating and testing strategies to help people sleep better, and mindfulness is playing a huge role in these studies.”

“For years now, mindfulness has been used as a tool to prevent and treat physical and psychological disorders and to promote holistic health. And now, we are learning how to get better sleep with mindfulness practices like meditation because of its signature benefits.”

Sleep Meditation and Scientific Research

There are a number of research studies that suggest that meditation practice results in better quality sleep. Research has shown that sleep meditation can also help promote a healthier circadian rhythm, weight loss, and improve mood/emotional well-being.

Many of the sleep studies conducted tend to focus on chronic insomnia, a serious sleep disorder that affects 10-15 percent adults. However, they have also focused on falling asleep, staying asleep, and utilization of sleep cycles.

One study tested sleep meditation to reduce stress for 68 patients with severe anxiety (a common cause of poor sleep).

The patients volunteered for an eight-week intervention program and those who completed treatment showed significant improvement on all levels.

Dr. Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, also recommends practicing mindfulness during the day, ideally for 20 minutes, the same amount suggested in the new study.

“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says. That way, it’s easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep. In fact, the relaxation response is so, well, relaxing that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving (as in yoga or tai chi) so as to avoid nodding off.

Try this sleep meditation 60 minutes before going to bed:

  1. Find a quiet, dark room.
  2. Sit upright on a pillow or chair with your eyes closed.
  3. Take three slow, deep cleansing breaths; breathe in “love,” breathe out “stress.”
  4. Breathe naturally and notice the sensations of breathing for the count of ten.
  5. In your mind’s eye, visualize ocean waves rolling onto the shore of a beach, say to yourself “not a worry in the world.”
  6. Hold this feeling of letting go in your awareness, and stay there as long as you like.
  7. Let go of everything, all worries and just notice your breath for as long as it feels right.
  8. Take three slow, deep cleansing breaths; breathe in “love,” breathe out “stress.”


National Sleep Foundation (US). (2013).


About the Author

Chris Willitts is the founder of Mindful Muscle, Meditate by Eight, and Mindful Strength. He is also a contributing writer for elephant journal, Muscle & Fitness and Natural Muscle magazines. If you’re interested in learning more about sleep meditation, check out this resource: Mindfully Asleep.

Chris Willitts