You need never count sheep again...
Public service announcement: it's been hot. The type of hot which makes it sticky, sweaty and difficult to sleep. You've likely tried counting sheep, whacking on an eye mask, and even banning social media scrolling for the hour before bed. But have you tried meditation for sleep?
One recent Headspace study found that only 7% of Brits believe they get a quality night's sleep every night, leaving a whopping 93% suffering from below-average shut eye. Bad sleep can lead to irritability, concentration issues and exhaustion - which is where meditation pre-bed comes in.
The mindful method is known to ease anxiety, boost relaxation, calm the mind and more - making it the ideal companion to a restful night's sleep. So much so, Beyoncé, Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello are said to be fans.
Eve Lewis Prieto, Director of Meditation at Headspace, agrees, further expanding that meditation can be a great way to ease yourself into a peaceful slumber as it's one of the best ways to lower your stress levels. "Stress is really good at keeping us awake and meditation is a really effective way to help us manage and reduce stress," she shares.
Not sure how to get to sleep at the moment and ready to give meditation a go? You're in the right place. Do give our guides to breathwork training, Reiki healing, and insomnia treatment a scroll, while you're here.
What is meditation for sleep?
You'll likely know about the benefits of meditation - but sleep meditation is a whole different kettle of fish.
Meditation is widely defined as taking intentional time out of your day to train the mind to be more present. Sleep meditation, on the other hand, simply refers to using this same practice to experience greater calm, clarity and contentment in your life just before bed, in turn improving your sleep quality, explains Lewis Prieto.
"Scientific research shows that practising meditation and mindfulness on a regular basis helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which are some of the biggest causes of our sleep issues," she explains.
How can meditation help you zzz easily?
Short answer: because stress triggers your flight or fight response and the stress hormone cortisol, which keeps you awake and doesn’t allow your body to experience tiredness. "This alertness creates a busy mind and attach on to whatever is going on for you at that time - work, kids, global pandemics and so on," she shares.
Ever wondered why you often feel more anxious once in bed? "The reality is that you're so busy throughout the day, you don’t notice these thoughts as much. Once you're lying down and doing nothing, everything can feel amplified."
So meditation helps because..? "Meditation and mindfulness teach you how to put distance between yourself and those feelings, allowing the spaciousness of mind for quality sleep," explains Lewis-Prieto. It also provides a space for you to start to understand the mind's tendencies in more detail, aka learn how to let go of those worrisome thoughts and to calm and ground a tense body.
I'm new to meditation for sleep - help!
If you are completely new to meditation, Lewis-Prieto suggests trying it in the morning first. Why? "This can be a helpful tool for getting used to sitting with the mind," she explains. One of the first things you'll notice if you start to meditate is how busy the mind is - and how often you get distracted, too.
"The mind is always - and has always - been busy and restless. Meditation simply gives us the awareness to see it more clearly and, in turn, calm it."
5 meditation for sleep videos to try tonight
A bit like Joe Wicks YouTube videos are one of the easiest ways to get in a good HIIT session, where all you have to do is click play and sweat away, guided video meditations can be a good place to start if you're a total beginner.
Scroll our favourites below.
1. Headspace meditation for sleep
2. Calm meditation for sleep
3. The Honest Guys meditation for sleep
4. Michael Sealey meditation for sleep
5. Jason Stephenson meditation for sleep
Keen to give it a go? Happy meditating... and sleeping.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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