We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: wellness is holistic. That means that you have to carefully nurture your entire self in order to truly “be well.” One of the best things that you can do for yourself is begin meditating.
There are so many reasons why this practice can provide a reset and prove to be transformative. We generally say that you should incorporate it into your life wherever and whenever it fits, but it’s true: there are some benefits that come with meditating right before sleeping.
Whether you’re a meditation newcomer or you’ve been practicing for years, we’ll give you the intel on some of the most interesting, important benefits of practicing meditation before hitting the hay.
We’ll begin by recapping what exactly meditation is, and then we’ll discuss how you can meditate. From there, we’ll run through a list of reasons why meditating before bedtime can be a great idea.
Before we begin, we do want to add one thing: meditation is a muscle! The first time you try it, you likely won’t be a pro (who is?), but lean into that and allow the practice to unlock the next version of yourself. You’ll find that within a few sessions you’re greatly improving.
What is Meditation?
First, let’s quickly recap. What exactly is meditation? You’ve probably heard the word plenty of times before, but have you ever paused to consider what exactly it means? If not, don’t worry! Now’s your opportunity to do exactly that.
Meditation is a practice that helps you pay attention to your breathing as it goes in and out. When you meditate, you’re being called to notice when your mind wanders from the task at hand. There are plenty of different types of meditation--some more specialized than others. That being said, if the first type of meditation that you try doesn’t completely resonate with you, try a different one! We are confident that with a little time, you will find a meditation practice that is just right for you.
Meditation itself is closely rooted in the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness itself is all about paying attention to the present moment. When you meditate, you’re paying attention to your breath. Instead of allowing your mind to race and wonder, riddled with fear and worry, you are returning to whatever the present moment can offer.
Instead of being concerned with “maybes” or “have-beens,” our feet are planted firmly on the ground. We’re in the present, and we’re being open and non-judgemental. It can strengthen both the body and the mind.
It’s also important to note that you have everything you need to meditate within you already. This practice is accessible for pretty much everyone because all it requires is for you to be present with yourself in a quiet, calm location. If you can provide yourself with that, then congratulations! You have everything that you need to successfully meditate.
We also want to take this opportunity to debunk a few misconceptions about meditation. This practice is not about transforming yourself into a better, different, or new person. In fact, it’s simply about training yourself to be more aware and gaining a healthier sense of perspective.
Sometimes, people think that meditation is about powering down your thoughts or feelings. It’s quite the opposite of that. When you learn to meditate, you’re simply beginning to observe these without judgment or attachment.
When something floats into your mind, you’re choosing to let it keep floating instead of pinning it down. Eventually, you might begin to notice things about your thoughts and feelings. You might even start to understand them better. But that’s not really the purpose of meditation--it’s simply about observation and staying present.
How Do I Meditate?
So you’ve decided to meditate. Exciting! As we mentioned earlier, meditation is certainly a practice that takes time and patience. We urge you to resist judging yourself harshly the first few times you attempt it.
You’re learning, and there are ought to be some hiccups, but there’s no need to judge yourself harshly for these! Instead offer yourself some gratitude that you’re learning something new and release these thoughts. If you find your mind wandering from the practice at hand, gently remind yourself to pay attention to your breathing and continue.
The first step to learning how to meditate is to find a place to sit. Be sure that it feels comfortable, quiet, and calm. You also want to be sure that you’re not somewhere you’re going to feel judged or interrupted.
Next, you should decide on a time limit. If you’re just getting acclimated to meditation, you might want to select a shorter period of time. Your meditation can be as brief as five or ten minutes, and then it can increase as you become more comfortable. There’s no “right” or “wrong” time limit for meditating, so choose a time frame that feels right for you.
Next, it’s time to take the last step before beginning meditation! The first thing is to notice your body. Be sure that you’re comfortable and stable. You don’t want to have to change up your positions in the middle of your meditation.
Once you’ve done that, it’s officially time to begin. Feel and notice your breath. Follow it as it enters and exits your body. Remember: this practice isn’t about thinking about the laundry list of things you have to do later, it’s about being here right now. If you find your mind is meandering, don’t worry and don’t scold yourself. Instead, return your attention to your breathing.
When you’re ready to stop meditating, for the time being, you can gently lift up your gaze. If your eyes are closed, it’s time to open them. How does your body feel? What about your environment? What thoughts and feelings are floating through your mind right now?
That’s all it takes to meditate! Like we said: it’s certainly something that gets easier with practice. The most important thing is to refrain from judging yourself or putting yourself down if your mind wandered: you did the best you could!
What Are the Benefits of Meditating Before Bedtime?
While there are an array of benefits to meditation regardless of the time of day, there are some unique benefits that you only experience when you meditate right before you sleep. Let’s talk about those now.
#1: Meditating Before Bedtime Can Help Prepare Both the Body and Mind for Rest
If your everyday is packed with things to do and tasks to complete, we’re right there with you. We know how tricky it can be to find the time to do anything for yourself, but finding that time is really important, especially right before bed. In fact, you can even train your brain to associate meditation time with sleeping.
The mind is a powerful thing: if you get it into the habit of something, you can really use that to your advantage to help you out. For example, if you start meditating every night before you go to bed, your mind will start equating mediation time with sleep. Therefore, it can help you send your brain a mental (and physical!) sign that your day is a wrap and it’s time to get ready for bedtime.
#2: It Can Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
Did you know that meditation can actually help ensure that you have a higher quality snooze than you would if you didn’t meditate? It’s true!
Especially for those who suffer from having difficulty falling asleep, mediation can truly solve a myriad of problems. It has been shown to help people improve not only the quality but the efficiency of their sleep. In addition, meditation can also help with how quickly you’re able to fall asleep, and how long you can stay awake during the daytime hours.
#3: Meditating Instead Can Help You Put Your Phone Down
Finally, meditation before bedtime can help incentivize putting your phone down--which is definitely a great sleep aid itself. Did you know that 90% of Americans use their mobile devices in the hour before they go to bed? It’s true.
Unfortunately, the devices that we use can actually have a negative impact on our sleep regimen. What’s one way to combat that? Put your phone down and get your meditation on! Instead of spending the last hour before bedtime scrolling through the ‘gram, why not take a pause and meditate a bit? By the time you go to bed, you’ll already feel better rested than you would if you took the Instagram scrolling approach.
We know how transformative meditation can be, and we hope that you will discover that for yourself, too! Get started today by taking a few minutes to pause and meditate before bedtime. We promise you won’t regret it!