Meditation is known to be a highly effective method of achieving deep, calm and regenerative sleep. It is becoming more and more popular as people discover its numerous benefits. Many celebrities and successful entrepreneurs claim that they own their mental sanity, success and happiness to meditation.
However, since meditating increases our awareness, a lot of people wonder whether it is good to meditate before going to bed or not. The answers to this question differ and meditation advocates are divided when it comes to before-sleep meditation. We’re digging deeper in order to find the right answer in this article.
Before getting right to the question, let’s understand what meditation is and what are its benefits. Are there any downsides to it? Can anyone benefit from it? How does meditation affect our sleep?
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a practice of training your mind to focus and control your thoughts that helps individuals achieve a greater mental clarity and emotional calmness. Depending on the meditation itself, it can help one be more aware of himself and his surroundings, or it can instill a more positive mindset, self-discipline in a meditation practitioner.
Often, people claim that meditating helped them stay more connected to themselves and achieve a higher control of their daily activities.
Everything you hear about the effects of meditating is due to it’s scientifically proven benefits that affect the way our brain, mind, and body work.
These are the officially claimed benefits of meditating:
- Stress Reduction – Stress is caused by increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress affects our sleep, mental health, way of thinking as well as our overall well being. Meditation was proven to help decrease levels of cortisol in stressed individuals. (1,2)
- Controls Anxiety – By decreasing the effect of stress in our bodies, meditation also helps in reducing anxiety and different symptoms of various anxiety disorders. (3,4)
- Better Emotional Health – Different studies have proven the effect of meditation on reducing depression and achieving a more positive outlook on life. (5)
- Helps In Fighting Addictions – Meditation helps develop a mental discipline that is needed to increase self control over addictive behaviors. (6)
- Helps Control Pain – Meditation helps individuals achieve a greater pain control as well as become less sensitive to pain. It doesn’t mean that pain will disappear, but that your perception of it may decrease with meditation. (7)
- Decreases Blood Pressure – While meditating, individuals experience an immediate blood pressure decrease, while those who practice meditation regularly can see a more permanent decrease over time. (8)
- Increases Sleep Quality – Practicing meditation helps to fall asleep easier, and have a deeper, longer sleep. It aids in controlling racing thoughts in the night, which helps in preventing insomnia. (9)
It is clear that meditating is a practice that can help us achieve a better sleep through all of these benefits both alone and combined. Being less stress or anxious will inevitably lead to a calmer sleep, while having decreased blood pressure, along with being able to control your thoughts and craves better will help you meet the ideal conditions of a healthy sleep.
But, does meditating before bed equally improves our sleep as meditating in the morning or afternoon?
Is It Bad To Meditate At Night?
Meditating can never be considered as “bad” and every hour is a good time for meditation. However, many experts advise not to meditate too close to your bedtime for several reasons.
First of all, when you meditate before going to sleep, chances are that meditation will actually lead to you to fall asleep much faster and easier. Meditation shouldn’t be confused with relaxation methods to falling asleep.
While meditating before bed might be good for people struggling with falling asleep despite being too tired, insomnia patients as well as individuals that suffer from different sleeping disorders, it doesn’t really help in collecting all the benefits meditation can bring.
For instance, if the aim of your meditation practice is to achieve a greater mental clarity and become more aware, meditating before sleep doesn’t really have a lot of sense, as this is the time of the day when you should slowly relax and calm your mind. You wouldn’t be able to use up the benefits of the meditation if you fall asleep immediately after or during it.
On the other hand, if you have back or any other type of pain, as well as if you experience troubles falling asleep in general, an adequate meditation approach might help you fall asleep in a smoother way.
Meditation practitioners and yogis also suggest that when you fall asleep right after meditating, you practically null the benefits that meditation brings to you (awareness, a higher mental activity and clarity). Meditating and the relaxation phase before falling asleep have similar physiological effects in our bodies, which is why those two are often confused. However, the aim of the first one is to use the calm state of your body to control your thoughts and focus your mind, while the second has the aim to lead you directly to sleep.
So, it is not bad to meditate at night itself. You simply might consider meditating a bit earlier in order to get out the most out of this practice. Depending on which benefits you want to garner from it, you can choose to meditate at different times throughout the day.
What Time Of Day Should You Meditate?
As mentioned, there is no wrong time to meditate. However, experts that rely on meditation practices suggest that there are certain guidelines to follow when it comes to choosing the time for meditation.
Meditating the first thing in the morning, whenever you feel stressed, during your lunch break as well as at the end of your work day, are chosen as best times to incorporate this practice. If you meditate as soon as you wake up, it will set your day right even if you do it for only 5 minutes.
On the other hand, it is highly recommended to use meditation in order to fight work-related stress. When on lunch break, do a meditation for a desired amount of time, and you will notice plenty benefits in your remaining working hours. You might experience a higher productivity, a better focus and a clearer mind.
Also, in order to reduce the effect of stress hormones on your mind and body once you’ve finished work for that day, meditation will help you be more positive and take out the most out of your free-time.
When it comes to meditating at later hours, it is advised to have at least one hour gap between your practice and bedtime.
Does Meditation Before Sleep Have Any Benefits?
Meditation before sleep can help you achieve a relaxed state of body and mind quite easily. Combined with other health and mental benefits that it brings, meditating will definitely improve your overall well being, including your sleep quality.
However, make sure you never meditate too close to your desired bedtime. Practice this mental exercise at least one hour before you go to bed, and benefits will surely come along your way.
Meditation Before Bed Wrap Up
If you’re only starting your meditation practice, it is better if you choose to meditate in the morning rather than before bedtime. This way, you will collect all the benefits meditation has to offer. When you achieve a good consistency of practicing, you will notice that your sleep quality and quantity improved.
Do not confuse meditation with relaxation methods that are aimed to make us fall asleep. Meditation will inevitably shorten the time you need to relax your mind and body, but its aim isn’t to make you asleep. Rather, it should promote your brain activity while maintaining an increased focus and control of your thoughts.