Could sleep meditation be key to an improved sleeping pattern? Here's everything you need to know...
Thanks to last week's mega heatwave and the sticky weather that's stuck around since, it's hardly surprising that you're struggling to sleep. That's where sleep meditation promises to help - putting you in a trance-like meditation to help your body rest.
So, does it work - or is it another TikTok fad that's more hype than help? The hashtag #sleepmeditation has 1.5 views on the app at current, with hundreds of posts touting it as "better than sleep."
What is sleep meditation?
According to yoga expert and teacher Jennifer Piercy, sleep meditation is a type of meditation where you calm the mind and body enough to enter a "yogic sleep." It's a type of meditation whereby you enter a trance-like state, totally relaxing and resting your body while your mind stays conscious.
Known as Yoga Nidra (meaning sleep in Sanskrit), it's often used as a relaxation method (or meditation) for the mind, body and soul.
What’s the difference between sleep meditation and normal sleep?
While it's not the same as your good old eight-hour shut-eye where your subconscious mind takes over, practicing Yoga Nidra can help you calm your conscious mind.
Another key difference is that during sleep, your subconscious mind can't make the conscious decision to leave behind your worries and stress, but during Yoga Nidra, you can, making it a form of sleep therapy.
"Yoga Nidra can also offer tools to induce sleep organically, following the workings of your own mind," explains Piercy.
How can I practice sleep meditation?
Not sure where to start? Don't worry - you're not alone. It's pretty common for people to practice sleep meditation with a guided track, normally from YouTube.
Not so keen? Try the following steps from Piercy.
How to try at home in 6 steps
1. Loosen up your body and settle down in a quiet space.
2. Make a resolution for this meditation time so you finish feeling satisfied. For example, do you want to feel well rested, peaceful, happy or content? Do you want to focus less on a chronic pain or do you want to stop overthinking? The possibilities are endless.
3. Use your mind to visit all parts of your body - do a mental scan, as it were - assessing how you feel today and helping to relax them slowly. This will also help to make you aware of your body parts and how they function.
4. Breathe slowly and through the nostrils only, if possible, as it helps you to feel relaxed (our guide to breathwork training might help).
5. Visualise calm, happy scenes to balance any tension you may be feeling.
Is sleep meditation a substitute for sleep?
No - and it's important to note that it shouldn't be used as one. "Sleep meditation is not a substitute for sleep - they both have their own unique benefits," explains Piercy.
That said, sleep meditation can have many benefits - helping to relax your body enough to enable a good, restful, deep nights sleep.
Still feel concerned about how little sleep you're getting and starting to see the side effects impact your day-to-day life? Do reach out to your GP, if you're worried.
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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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