All about meditation and sleep!

March 19, 2012

Will meditation help me sleep? I’m falling asleep during meditation, am I doing something wrong? Is it OK to meditate at bedtime?

“It depends…” is often the answer to these common questions. It depends on what kind of meditation you are doing. It depends on your unique nervous system and physiology. It depends on why you are meditating in the first place, what your goal is. That being said, I’ll share a few thoughts on these questions from the perspective of our meditation style.

Will meditation help me sleep? Our approach is above all to promote naturalness and ease in living. We’re all about trust — trust in life, trust in oneself. Ultimately, it’s about relaxation — letting go of the tension that comes when we try too hard, resist what is happening, or are in conflict with ourselves. It’s about relaxing into the flow of life and living. This approach to meditation, or any other meditation style that promotes deep relaxation, should certainly improve the quality of sleep. Sleep comes about as we relax and let go of the concerns of the day.

I’m falling asleep during meditation, am I doing something wrong? In the deep relaxation of meditation, the body takes what it needs. If you are not getting enough sleep, the body will naturally fall asleep. So many of us are not getting enough rest, so when sleep comes in meditation it’s a blessing, even if it’s an unplanned afternoon nap! Practicing meditation in the style we teach should lead to greater alertness and clarity. But that doesn’t mean we have to be alert and clear during meditation. (After all, we are not alert and clear during sleep, but a good night’s sleep results in greater clarity and alertness during the day.) If you were totally rested, your experience during meditation would probably be one of enhanced wakefulness and energy, but if that isn’t what is happening, that’s fine. Whatever happens is what needs to happen at the time. So we recommend not resisting sleep when it comes. The sleep you get in meditation will be particularly deep and refreshing to the system.

Is it OK to meditate at bedtime? There is no hard and fast rule about this. If meditation makes you more alert and energized, you wouldn’t want to meditate right before bed. If meditation is mainly relaxing and you slip easily into sleep while meditating, then by all means meditate before bed. The ideal would be to have another meditation earlier in the day as well. Sitting up and meditating during the day will make it more likely you’ll stay awake, and different benefits can be derived from that. If you can do it, make twice daily meditation part of your routine!

On guided meditation. As those of you know who listen to our podcast meditations or use our apps, guided meditations guide you in meditation. They can be designed to simply help you achieve a meditative state, or they can have a specific focus and take you on a journey with a particular theme. We have both kinds of meditations. Some will be conducive to falling asleep, while others will be more stimulating and may not work well right before bed. You will need to try the different meditations to see what works for you.

Our new iSleep Easy app. The guided meditations on our new app are specifically designed for bedtime, and one is even designed for when you wake up in the middle of the night. All of the meditations are designed to help you let go and relax, much like our other meditations, but they are more focused on falling asleep and promoting a sound sleep. The app also gives you the ability to create a Playlist with several meditations in a row. Currently the app is available on iPhone — you can read about it in the iTunes store. If you get the app, let us know how it works for you!


18 Responses to “All about meditation and sleep!”

  1. jayme on July 8th, 2012 8:12 pm

    I do not have a smart phone, an ipad, or an itouch. I do have an ipod. I would really like to use the isleep app. Is there a way you can release it for those of us who are a little behind the times.



  2. Mary on July 9th, 2012 8:50 am

    Jayme, apps can only be programmed for a device with a touchscreen. You would at least need to have an iPod Touch. Sorry!

  3. Mouty on guided meditation audio on July 10th, 2012 9:38 am

    Thank you for your article. I like the part where you note that once relaxed the body does what it needs to do. If it is sleeping, we will fall into a recuperative sleep.


  4. valerie zamberletti on October 9th, 2012 11:19 pm

    i like your meditations very much thank you.


  5. Mike Cappiello on January 29th, 2013 10:32 pm

    Your guided meditations are excellent. I especially like the podcast meditation guides on “intuitive self healing”, and “beyond pain”. For my situation these were very helpful. This brings me to my question. Have you considered doing a meditation guide for folks with cancer? Specifically, I am convinced that thru meditation we can enhance our immune system to help suppress carcinomas (cancerous tumors). A meditation guide that would “allow” healing energy to cause cancer cell apoptosis thru the body’s normal immune response would be most helpful. This “placebo” effect is real, we just have to learn how to unleash it.

    Thank you

  6. Mary on January 31st, 2013 11:44 am

    You are welcome, Mike. We’re glad the podcast is helping. Thank you for your suggestion. That is a great idea and we will add it to our list of requests although I must tell you that the list is very long. Perhaps you can have that intention in mind when you do the intuitive self-healing meditation. You can always be creative with your visualizations and how you use the meditations. Wishing you all the best!

  7. Gerry Lavery on February 15th, 2013 9:44 pm

    Is there anywhere i can find the DVD or CD and buy it?
    I am talking about the isleep “Deep Sleep” meditation.

  8. Mary on February 16th, 2013 11:59 am

    Gerry, We have a number of different meditations for sleep We have a CD called Sleep Easy which is available on this website in our shop. We also have an app called iSleep Easy available through the iTunes App Store. People also use some of our other apps for sleep. You may be thinking of the Deep Rest meditation in our free podcast. A lot of people use that for sleeping. You can listen to that on this website on our listen to our podcast page.

  9. Karen on October 10th, 2013 7:38 pm

    In your response to Jayme on 7/9/12 you indicated the sleep app would work on devices with a touch screen. I have a Nook Color with touch screen and internet access. Will that work?


  10. Mary on October 11th, 2013 9:19 am

    Karen, we’re sorry but we don’t have any apps available for the Nook. If you can browse websites with the nook, though, you could listen to our Meditation Podcast (on the Listen to Our Podcast page of this website). Many people find meditations from the podcast that help them sleep, although our iSleep Easy app is the best for that purpose.

  11. Judit on April 6th, 2014 7:53 pm

    I have 3 different guided meditation.The music and the natural sounds are beautiful.But I have a huge problem none of them play the ” Voice “.My phone: Samsung S4.
    What can I do?

  12. Mary on April 7th, 2014 9:05 am

    Judit, there are separate volume controls for music/nature sounds and voice. Please move the slider for the voice to the right to increase the volume. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  13. Nikki on August 23rd, 2014 9:17 pm

    Is it safe to listen to your guided meditations as a playlist all night?

  14. Mary on August 25th, 2014 4:47 pm

    Nikki, are you awake all night, or is it playing while you sleep all night? Please let me know and I’ll answer.

  15. Susan S. on January 8th, 2015 8:41 am

    I love the soothing voice on these…but wish you created more for wee hours rescue
    I wake during the night every night and anxious about getting back to sleep. Thanks!

  16. Mary on January 8th, 2015 1:30 pm

    Hi Susan, we’re glad you are enjoying the app. You can always create a playlist for when you wake up in the middle of the night. You could start with the Wee Hours Rescue meditation and follow it with others.

  17. Louise Karger on March 7th, 2015 8:51 am

    Regarding Nikki’s question wonder what you think of letting the meditations play while I’m asleep. Any problem with that? Also if I’m lying awake despite the meditations is there a time to throw in the towel and get up. I tend to wake up at 6 or so irrespective of how late I get to bed and then listen to meditations for an hour or so hoping to go back to sleep. Then I give up and get up!

  18. Mary on March 7th, 2015 10:06 am

    Louise, it’s fine to have the meditations playing while you sleep. As for “throwing in the towel” and getting up, that’s something for you to experiment with and do what works for you. You may want to take some other steps to support better sleep, such as having a regular bedtime. Here are some ideas —

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