Anxiety is among the most common mental health disorders in the US and worldwide. Statistics show that over 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety. Aside from disrupting your day-to-day life, anxiety and stress can make it difficult to sleep.
Meditation can help to manage anxiety which may improve the quality of your sleep. Guided sleep meditations for anxiety incorporate a wide range of relaxation techniques to quiet your mind, relax your body, and promote inner peace.
Sleep meditations for anxiety should be incorporated into your bedtime routine to help you fall asleep easily and deeply. They can also help to improve insomnia.
Benefits of Sleep Meditations for Anxiety
Reduction of Stress Hormones
When you’re feeling anxious, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones cause an increased heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure. Emotionally, anxiety causes worry, irritability, and restlessness.
All these emotional, mental, and physiological effects make relaxing and falling asleep difficult. The various relaxation techniques incorporated in sleep meditations for anxiety reduce the levels of stress hormones, making it easier for you to relax.
Techniques such as body scans and deep breathing can reduce the muscle tension created by anxiety and stress.
Increased Production of Sleep Hormones
Meditating can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is a precursor to melatonin, the primary sleep hormone. Melatonin controls the circadian rhythms that help you feel sleepy at night and alert during the day. This hormone is naturally produced in the brain by the pineal gland.
Melatonin works in different ways to help you sleep. It attaches to nerve receptors to reduce nerve action, reduces dopamine levels, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and slows down brain activity to enable you to enter a restful state.
Quieting Your Mind
Sleep meditations for anxiety help to quiet your mind. Various meditation techniques direct your attention to your breath, sensations, and body, enabling you to let go of your worries and your racing thoughts. Ultimately, this reduces your feelings of anxiety and promotes a sense of calm, enabling you to fall asleep more easily.
Improving Your Sleep Quality
Sleep meditations for anxiety also slow down your brain wave frequency from beta to alpha state. Lower frequencies are associated with deep relaxation and deep sleep states. Helping your brain enter these slow wave states helps you sleep restfully and wake up feeling energized.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Your Day-to-Day Life
Aside from improving your sleep, the benefits of sleep meditations for anxiety carry over during the day. If you consistently meditate before you sleep, you will feel calmer, less stressed, and less anxious during the day.
Aside from regulating stress hormones and reducing the psychological effects of stress and anxiety on the body, sleep meditations for anxiety also improve your outlook on life. They help you keep your attention in the present moment, which brings feelings of peace, joy, and tranquility.
How to Get Started With Sleep Meditations for Anxiety
Determine Which Type You Prefer
There is a wide range of sleep meditations for anxiety you can try.
Sleep meditation teachers combine a wide range of techniques to help you relax. These include body scans, breathing exercises, hypnosis, gratitude practices, and grounding meditations to help your body and mind relax.
The best sleep meditations for anxiety also incorporate music and sounds, such as meditation music, nature sounds, delta music, and white noise, to mask the ambient sounds in your environment and promote deeper relaxation.
You can choose from a wide collection of sleep meditations available on meditation websites, YouTube, and meditation apps. YouTube is a great place to find lots of free sleep meditation videos.
However, you might want to make sure that the video won’t have ads in the middle that might startle you and disrupt your relaxation.
You can tell if a YouTube video has ads in the middle because the video progress bar will have yellow tick marks where the ads will play. If there are no yellow tick marks on the progress bar, you are good to go.
Choose the length of your guided sleep meditation, depending on your needs. Some people prefer a short 10-15 minute meditation to wind down, while others take 30-45 minutes to begin to relax.
If you have severe anxiety or a sleep disorder, try guided meditations that last 1 hour since it may take you longer to relax and fall asleep. Guided sleep hypnosis meditations are particularly helpful if you have difficulty sleeping.
If you are familiar with various guided meditation techniques, you can also lead yourself through a sleep meditation practice for anxiety relief.
You can record a script to play back at bedtime, or you can play some background meditation music and guide yourself mentally through a sleep meditation.
It’s perfectly fine if you begin to feel sleepy and lose track of the steps. Allow yourself to drift off to sleep whenever drowsiness arises.
Create a Conducive Environment
To be able to meditate and get better sleep, you need a calm and quiet environment that is free of distractions. Make sure you have brushed your teeth and are otherwise ready to fall asleep right after you finish meditating. If you are a parent, put your kids to bed and make sure they have settled in for the night.
Then, set the mood for relaxation. Adjust the lighting to your preferred level. Put your phone’s notifications on silent mode. Play calming music, diffuse some peppermint or lavender essential oil in your room, and set the room temperature to your preferred setting.
If you listen to guided meditations, use a Bluetooth or pillow speaker. It is not recommended to use headphones or earbuds, as they pose a health risk. They are bulky, making it difficult to get into a comfortable position, which can affect sleep quality.
If your headphones have cables, the cables pose a risk of strangulation during the night. And earbuds can cause wax accumulation or damage your eardrums. Also, be sure to set the volume level of your speaker low to avoid distraction when you fall asleep.
Get Into Position for Meditation
The ideal position for doing sleep meditations is lying on your bed. Lie down on your back facing up, with your feet extended forward and your hands alongside the body.
You may place your pillow under your head. Some people like to place a pillow under their knees to relieve strain on the low back. Pull your covers up to your chest.
As opposed to lying on your side or on your belly, lying down on your back helps you stay centered and focused during the meditation.
However, it may not be a comfortable sleeping position for you. If so, when you start feeling sleepy during the meditation, you can change from this posture to your preferred sleeping position.
Studies have shown that the most recommended sleeping position is lying on your side with your knees bent. With that said, the most important thing is that you’re very comfortable and can fall asleep in the position that works best for you.
Don’t Worry About Whether or Not the Meditation Will Work
It’s normal to wonder if your sleep meditation technique will work. Let go of your expectations, as they can add to the stress and anxiety you feel.
Some people fall asleep easily when doing a sleep meditation technique and get quality sleep. But if you’re still having a hard time falling asleep, you can use sleep meditations to help you relax, rest your mind, and find inner peace, which will have health benefits no matter how long it takes you to fall asleep.
Don’t panic if you have finished your sleep meditation and are still awake; continue to meditate or practice other relaxation techniques.
For instance, you can keep the background music playing and visualize relaxing sceneries or do breathing exercises. You can try another sleep meditation or loop the one you were listening to before. Your brain will continue to transition to lower-frequency states, enabling you to eventually fall asleep.
Use Sleep Meditation for Anxiety Regularly
Incorporate sleep meditations for anxiety into your daily bedtime routine for the best results. Consistency helps you set your sleeping patterns.
Over time, your mind and body associate the sleep meditation practice with relaxation and ease, making it easier to fall asleep. You’ll start to feel better and better during the day, as well.
Sleep meditations for anxiety are helpful tools for managing anxiety, reducing negative thoughts, and improving sleep quality.
You can use them to help you to fall asleep or you can use them in the middle of the night if you are having trouble falling back asleep.
Guided sleep meditations for anxiety are a great option as they guide you through various steps to enable you to relax and fall asleep easily.
Be sure to create a conducive environment for sleep. You are likely to fall asleep when listening to the meditation, so make sure that you are ready for bed before starting the meditation to enable you to sleep through the night without distractions.
Try to do a sleep meditation every night to improve its effectiveness. Seek professional help if you still have trouble sleeping or managing your anxiety.