Meditation has many different forms and many different goals; however, the underlying goal of every type of meditation is to train the mind to gain perspective. Meditation allows you to observe thoughts and feelings with non-judgemental detachment.
By putting thoughts and feelings into perspective you can calm the mind and this can be integral to getting a good night’s sleep. This is especially true when you’ve had a hard day at work filled with stress.
Sometimes you can have the best mattress with the softest bedding and still be unable to sleep because of your mental stress. If you’ve found this to be the case, trying meditation can't hurt.
Meditation has been shown in studies to help improve sleep quality, deep sleep, as well as making it easier to fall asleep.
While there are many paid subscription apps available with meditations for bedtime, we’ve compiled a list of free YouTube videos that will help you meditate yourself to better sleep.
If stress is keeping you up at night try a guided breath meditation. In research studies, deep breathing has been shown to improve sleep onset, quality, and stability. Additionally, deep breathing has a therapeutic effect on the brain allowing it to relieve stress.
The video above is a bedtime meditation by YouTube channel Carolyn McCready Meditation, she also has a website. It is designed to help you to alleviate insomnia, worry, stress, and help you to fall asleep.
1. Find a comfortable and relaxing position, it can be lying down.
2. Take note of your body and relax your muscles.
3. Focus on your breath and follow it as you inhale and exhale. Notice the sensation as the air enters through your nose and goes through your throat to your lungs. Follow the sensation as you hold your breath for a few seconds (as long as you can comfortably).
4. As you release your breath, through your mouth, follow the sensations and repeat.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of deep breathing where you breathe by using your diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle located just between the thoracic and abdominal cavity, just below the lungs.
In a study, diaphragmatic breathing was shown to lower cortisol levels by triggering body relaxation responses. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is important because high levels can hinder the ability to fall and stay asleep.
1. Lie on your back with your head supported and knees bent. You can place pillows under your knees for better support.
2. Breathe in through your nose and as you do press so your belly moves out as you breathe in.
3. As you exhale through your mouth, slowly tighten your stomach muscles to bring your stomach down.
4. Notice the sensations you feel as you repeat this.
You may be holding tension in your muscles that you don’t even know you have. A great way to release bodily tension is to try a body scan meditation before bed.
A body scan bedtime meditation is one that involves paying attention to the various parts of your body in slow succession. Some start at the feet and work their way up to the head while others work the other way down. The purpose is to notice the sensations in those parts of your body.
Researchers have noticed that when participants performed a body scan meditation before bed that they had an easier time falling asleep. The exercise also helped to improve not only the total sleep time but made the rest feel more refreshing and efficient.
In Mount Sinai Health System’s YouTube body scan video it will take 20 minutes to be guided through a body scan which should help you sleep better and longer. Mount Sinai also has lots of health-related information on their website.
1. Start in a comfortable position, possibly lying down on your mattress.
2. Begin by paying attention to your breath, try and take some time, maybe a minute or two, to observe each sensation starting with your breathing.
3. As you are ready, intentionally breathe in and imagine as though you are directing that breath to your feet. Now notice the sensations you feel in your feet. Try to do so without any judgment.
4. Next move up the body, taking time to breathe into those areas. You can go as slowly as you like to the ankles or the legs.
Hypnosis meditation is where, rather than focusing on external stimuli, you focus on yourself. This type of meditation typically has a specific end goal. For sleep hypnosis meditation the end goal is to allow you to open your mind to suggestions in order to improve sleep.
According to research, 60 percent of participants who engaged in hypnosis before sleep found it to have a positive effect on the quality and duration of their sleep.
Michael Sealy’s YouTube video aims to help you reset your natural circadian rhythm through the power of hypnosis.
1. In a comfortable and darkened room, lie down on your bed.
2. Clear your mind of all thoughts, you can do this by focusing on your breathing.
3. Tense and release the muscles in your body one at a time, start with your toes and work your way up to your head focusing on what you feel.
4. Breathe in and out deeply and try to visualize a relaxing place.
5. Choose a mantra like “restful sleep” or “deep sleep” and repeat it each time you exhale.
Also known as visualization meditation, these are meditations where you can relax while someone verbally directs you through imagery or a thought process.
Studies show that meditation can help to relieve stress and anxiety. Relieving stress and anxiety is key to getting a better night’s sleep, as these two phenomena are linked to increasing nighttime awakenings and decreasing deep sleep.
If you’re looking to increase your deep sleep, which is essential to feeling more rested, try Meditation Vacation’s relaxation journey. You can visit their website to find more meditation information.
1. As this is a sleep meditation, lie on your back on your mattress.
2. Close your eyes or gently unfocus your vision.
3. Breathe in and out slowly, focusing on counting your breaths.
4. When fully relaxed, slowly guide yourself through a scene focusing on every detail. From the smell of the air to the way it feels to walk into the area, be as specific as possible.
If you have a favorite place that makes you feel calm and relaxed, try a favorite restful place meditation. There are many types available, but our favorite is the beach.
According to research, meditation has been linked to increased production of melatonin helping the body to get to sleep faster.
1. After lying down on a comfortable mattress, close your eyes.
2. Breathe in and out slowly.
3. Try and visualize, using all five senses, your favorite restful pace.
Bedtime story meditations are a form of guided meditation that combines music, sound effects, a gentle voice, and a relaxing story to help guide you to sleep.
These stories are designed to help to ease feelings of stress and anxiety as well as improving sleep quality. Easing feelings of stress and anxiety is important in helping you get a night of restful sleep.
If you’d like to try a bedtime story meditation, try Meditation Vacation’s Moonlight Kingdom sleep story.
1. Lie down in a comfortable place for sleeping.
2. Try some focused breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3. Once you have relaxed your breathing, try to think of a story you can guide yourself through, like walking down a mysterious path in the woods to find a fairy pond.
Gratitude, before bedtime can help people have longer sleep durations, improves sleep quality and helps them fall asleep faster.
Gratitude meditation is one way to incorporate feeling grateful into your bedtime routine. Gratitude meditations prompt you to think of the things that you are grateful for in your daily life to sleep better.
1. Start by breathing slowly in a lying position in your bed.
2. With each exhale try to name one thing that you are grateful for. It can be something small like the sun shining.
3. Breathe in and imagine yourself sleeping soundly.
A talk down meditation is a form of mindfulness meditation that will help to decrease stress by helping you be kinder to yourself. This mindfulness meditation mixes a body scan with a daily review.
Research has found that mindfulness meditation, as the talk down method, can help to improve sleep quality.
1. Find a comfortable and relaxing space to sleep in. Lie down on your back.
2. Breathe in and out in a smooth, slow manner. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3. Release all expectations from your day. As you do this focus on separate parts of your body, you can start at your toes and slowly release the tension that has built up during the day.
4. As you switch from one part of your body to another, think back on the good things that happened in your day.
Affirmation meditations are great for helping you to relax to sleep after a long day. These meditations work because research has found that affirmations help to stimulate the reward center of the brain, releasing serotonin.
Serotonin is a key component in helping you sleep. It helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle along with melatonin. Affirmations help to produce Serotonin which helps to make melatonin, getting you to sleep faster.
1. Start by breathing slowly in your bed, lying down on your back.
2. With each exhale say an affirmation like “I am loved” or “I am kind.”
3. As you inhale try to visualize the affirmation in your life.
A daily review meditation allows you to verbally journal your day. The exercise takes you through the day and allows you to rid your mind of any stressors or unfinished tasks that may keep you up at night.
This meditation is good because according to research, journaling allows you to go to sleep faster. Verbal journaling has similar effects.
1. Breathe deeply and slowly as you lie down on your back.
2. As you breathe out, think back to the places in your day where you would have liked to have been more effective, conscious, loving, or another quality.
3. Observe the situations without judgment. Remind yourself that you did your best.
4. Continue until you cannot think of any more situations.
Yoga Nidra is also known as yogic sleep. The purpose of this meditation is to bring you to a state of consciousness known as the going to sleep stage.
In a study, Yoga Nidra was found to help with decreasing anxiety and depression. It has long been known that anxiety and depression are linked to insomnia. By decreasing the two you should be able to sleep more soundly.
1. As you lie down softly on your bed, begin by breathing in a controlled and relaxed manner.
2. Focus your mind on the intention to fall asleep soundly.
3. Scan through the various parts of your body starting with your head working down slowly to your toes.
4. Focus on your breath as you do the body scan.
5. Try to feel feelings of joy.
6. Observe the feelings you are feeling.
A modernized approach to Yoga Nidra, iRest stands for integrative restoration. It is a research-based alternative to Yoga Nidra.
In a research study of military personnel, those who practiced iRest for some time showed noticeable improvement in sleep quality as well as decreases in anxiety and depression.
To try iRest Meditation check out the video above by YouTuber Ariel Christopher.
1. Start by lying down in a comfortable position and focusing on the thing you want most.
2. Think of your current intention of getting a good night’s sleep.
3. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
4. Gradually move your attention to the various parts of your body, starting with the head and ending with the toes.
Trataka or candle gazing is a way to meditate where you stare at a specific focal point, like a candle. The invention of YouTube allows this to now be a safe bedtime meditation.
1. Lay down in the bed or you may choose to sit in a meditation pose.
2. For safety, use a digital candle and look at the flame without blinking for a few seconds.
3. The candle should be at the same height as your chest.
4. Close your eyes and repeat a mantra like “deep sleep.”
5. Open your eyes and look at the flame without blinking again.
6. Repeat this at least three times, or until you feel sleepy.
A form of movement-based meditation, Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that embraces the mind, body, and spirit as one through exercise. It is practiced by learning specific movements that you perform slowly.
Researchers of this form of meditation noticed that practitioners of Tai Chi were able to sleep significantly better.
1. First, you need to learn the 10 basic forms.
2. At night, before going to bed, practice the 10 basic forms slowly and with intention.
3. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes.
A chakra is a focal point located in the body. There are seven chakras: the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and root. They are located at seven different points in the body.
Chakra meditation makes use of these focal points in a form of body scan meditation where instead of focusing on any part of the body you focus on the seven areas related to the chakras.
1. Before starting, familiarize yourself with the location of the seven chakras:
2. Get in bed or in a seated crossed-legged position. You can sit on a cushion for comfort.
3. Start with slow deliberate breathing. In through your nose and out through your mouth.
4. Focus on breathing into each chakra, starting at the root and working your way to the crown.
5. Imagine energy flowing into each focal point as you breathe.
6. When you reach the crown, work your way back down.
The sound of rain makes many people sleepy. This type of meditation makes use of the sound of rain to help you drift off to sleep.
In one study, researchers noticed that children exposed to rain sounds fell asleep faster at nap time, initially. Making this meditation good for those who have trouble falling asleep.
1. Find a comfortable spot, like your mattress, and lie down.
2. Turn on a video, recording, or white noise machine to rain sounds.
3. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply.
Much like the rain sound meditation, music meditation is an unguided meditative exercise. It uses soothing and relaxing music to help you drift off to sleep.
One study of students found that by listening to relaxation music the students were able to not only have better quality sleep but lower their blood pressure and reduce feelings of anxiety.
1. Turn on your favorite piece of relaxation music.
2. Lie down on your mattress or another comfortable sleeping surface.
3. Try to breathe deeply for a few minutes.
4. Focus on the music and not on any thoughts you may have running through your head.
A binaural beat is one where two different tones of slightly different frequencies accompany each beat. Their purpose is to help you achieve a more meditative state.
1. Play a binaural beat recording.
2. Get in a position that is comfortable for meditation, lying down is okay.
3. Breathe in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth.
4. Relax your muscles.
5. Allow the music to put you to sleep.
Unguided sleep meditation is one that focuses the mind with the use of sound, or sometimes, no stimuli at all to help achieve a meditative state. These meditations are helpful if you find guided meditation to be distracting.
Ocean sounds, like the ones used in the unguided meditation below, have been linked to deeper sleep and decreased nighttime awakenings.
If you find you are waking frequently at night, try 321 Relaxing - Meditation Relax Clips’ YouTube video.
1. Find a soothing ocean sound on YouTube, a music app, or a sound machine.
2. Lie down in a comfortable position.
3. As you lie there to allow yourself to feel the various sensations in your body.
4. Try and focus your mind on the sounds.
5. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.
6. Count your breaths if it helps you relax and focus your mind on the sounds.
Often people have a lot of preconceived notions about meditation. From film and television, it seems like a skill that takes hours to practice and needs perfect adherence.
However, meditation does not need to be something you practice for hours. There are many benefits to even novice approaches to meditation for sleep.
Depression Reduction: Depression is often linked with insomnia. If depression-related insomnia is a problem for you, meditation is shown to reduce depression symptoms and may help to relieve insomnia related to it.
Longer Sleep Duration: You need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night to feel fully rested. Researchers have noticed that meditation helps people sleep longer.
Try a few of these meditations over the course of a couple of weeks to see if they help you sleep better. If these meditations haven’t helped you to sleep better, you may need a new mattress. Use SleePare’s mattress compare tool to find the sleep of your dreams.