According to the American Sleep Association, around 30% of adults have short-term problems with insomnia, while approximately 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. Furthermore, around 33% of adults claim that they get less than 7 hours of a sleep each night.
Better sleep quality can contribute to stress reduction as well as the development of a stronger immune system. However, getting restful sleep can be tricky if you are a victim of anxiety and stress. Many sleep issues start with your thought processes at night, and this is precisely where guided sleep meditation can be of use.
Basically, guided sleep meditation is simply meditating before going to sleep, typically while already in bed. While you can actually practice sleep meditation by yourself, guided practice usually consists of you listening to an audio recording that will improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep all night long.
Meditation helps you to be in the present moment and to move outside your head. When you lie down at night, previously suppressed thoughts suddenly start racing around in your mind. Without any external distractions, it can be difficult to control your thoughts which could end up leading to anxiety or depression.
Through guided sleep meditation, you end up ridding yourself of such thoughts, thereby activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn allows you to reduce your heart rate and slow down your breathing rate. This can be so effective that you may find yourself drifting off to sleep in the middle of the meditation practice.
After practicing sleep meditation for a number of weeks, you should begin to notice daytime benefits of the practice too. This is because getting enough sleep at night is related to how you feel during the day.
To practice guided sleep meditation, you will first need to get your hands on an audio recording, such as the ones provided by UCLA. Many others are also available on Youtube or other websites.
Typical guided sleep meditations will redirect your focus away from your thoughts and towards your physical body. During such meditations, you will mentally scan the various regions of your body from top to bottom, becoming more aware of the different sensations such as tension, heaviness, tingling, temperature, and tightness. As you do this, you will be told to gently relax and release tension by breathing into that part of your body.
You will also be instructed to allow your troubled thoughts to move beyond you as if they are leaves floating down a river or clouds floating in the sky. As you do this, your body will begin to relax and soften and you will begin to breathe more deeply.
Guided sleep meditation may also incorporate other practices, such as breathing exercises, visualizing peaceful scenes, or even focusing on being grateful and showing loving kindness to yourself.