Do you also find yourself twisting your thumbs, staring at your ceiling at night? Wobbling, brooding and lying awake?
Regularly late to bed or unable to relax at night? Unfortunately, you are not the only one. There’s nothing more stressful than not being able to sleep well.
According to the American Sleep Association, 30% of adults suffer from insomnia. For 10% it even turns out to be chronic. When you also state that more than one third sleep less than 7 hours per night, you can say that we all experience considerable sleep problems. We need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep to be able to function at all.
But sometimes there are days – or weeks – in which you have a lot on your mind. Something as simple as falling asleep can be a challenge. You keep worrying, twisting and turning, with the result that you don’t achieve the recommended number of sleeping hours.
Maybe you’ve already tried different things like a cup of tea before going to bed, not too much TV, reading a book, etc.
I can tell you there’s a method that helps you relax and stops your endless stream of thoughts: Deep Sleep (Guided) Meditation. I believe this can make the difference for you, as I experience the benefits myself!
What Is The Mechanism Behind Meditation?
Ordinary meditation makes you less concerned with what’s going on in your head. You shift that focus to what is happening around you – the present: The Now.
However, as soon as you crawl under the wool after a long day’s work, the thoughts you suppressed during the day rise up. Suddenly you fall into what you should have said during that discussion. Why did your colleague make that remark? – and did I lock the back door?
These peak thoughts prevent your parasympathetic nervous system from being activated – a part of your nervous system responsible for slowing down your heart rate and breathing. Two things that are crucial for you to fall asleep.
Guided meditation counteracts these thoughts, allowing this nervous system to take effect. It causes you to breathe more calmly and release the tension in your body. Your heartbeat slows down and before you know it, you go into a deep sleep. And that’s what you want!
How Is Sleep Meditation Different?
If you’re familiar with meditation, sleep meditation is about the same. The only difference is you do it horizontally, just before you go to sleep and in bed.
Like the standard form of meditation, it focuses on shifting your focus – from your thoughts to what is happening in your body, for example, your breathing. The big difference, however, is that in guided sleep meditation, you listen to an audio file instead of the surrounding silence. And that audio file tells you step by step what to do and what to focus on. So it guides you – hence the name.
The whole thought behind applying this form of meditation, is that it reduces peak thoughts and takes away the stress in your body. In this way your brain and body come to rest and you fall into a deep sleep without effort.
Key Components Of A Good Sleep Meditation
There are two components that help to calm your body and your monkey mind, allowing your parasympathetic nervous system to do its job of putting you to sleep:
1. Body Scan
A body scan is a process in which you ‘go off’ your whole body in order to observe what is happening in your body. In this way you often start at the top of your head and finish the different parts of your body, up to your toes.
While you are being guided to ‘scan’ each body part, you notice for example that your arms feel heavy. Your belly feels warm and “hey, my knee itches!” It is a very effective method to take away the stress in your body.
2. Space to observe your thoughts
In addition, your guided sleep meditation should contain an element in which attention is paid to your thoughts. This will cause your breathing to slow down and your body to relax further.
Usually this is done by observing the thoughts that occur to you and letting them ‘pass by’ you – like a cloud. Various other methods can also be used. Think for example:
Breathing exercises – for example, you are asked to count as you breathe in and out. This sends a signal to your brain that it is time to go to sleep.
Visualization – you may also be asked to imagine a scene, for example a walk through a forest. This puts you in a kind of trance, which makes you fall asleep easily.
Gratitude exercises – a sleep meditation can also focus on focusing on things you are grateful for. Often ‘affirmations’ are also repeated here, which focus on strengthening your self-image.
Yoga Nidra For Sleep
Yoga Nidra originally consists of a series of centuries-old meditation exercises to soothe the nervous system, experience intense deep tranquility, let the body heal itself and put everything in order in the head.
The term Yoga Nidra is composed of two words from the Indian Sanskrit language:
– Yoga: the path through which you experience the relationship with yourself and with all life.
– Nidra: the changing status of consciousness, such as waking, sleeping and dreaming, including sensations, emotions, thoughts and images.
So what does such a deep meditation session look like?
At first glance, the practice appears to be nothing more than lying on the floor, couch or even your bed, wrapped in comfortable clothing and blankets.
But there is a lot of power in silence. And modern science responds to what yogis have known for a long time: Yoga Nidra, also known as ‘Sleep Yoga’, improves your health and mental condition in many surprising ways. It is a state of ‘conscious deep sleep’.
In meditation, you stay in the state of consciousness and focus your mind softly, while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations and images to emerge and continue. In Yoga Nidra, however, you leave the waking state, go beyond dream state and go into deep sleep, while staying awake. Sounds like magic, doesn’t it?
Sleep Meditations To Try Out
The University of California has released a real app in which you can listen to the audio files they have selected, called ‘UCLA Mindful’. Diana Winston, head of the ‘Mindful Awareness Research Center’ department, has listed the best guided sleep meditations – each with a specific purpose.
There are many playlists and podcasts on the topic of ‘Deep Sleep Meditation’.
Among my favorites: Lauren Ostrowski Fenton
Here you’ll find an extensive collection of audio files for Guided Sleep Meditation. I can recommend the channel of ‘Relax For A While – Meditations & Sleep Stories‘.
The Sleep Talk Down Guided Meditation by Jason Stephenson is also very popular. It has more than 11 million views!
I wish you nights of deep, restful sleep and am curious if Deep Sleep Meditation can assist you in this.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below.
With love ❤,