How Does Meditation Help Sleep

How Does Meditation Help Sleep

Getting enough high-quality sleep is incredibly important for both physical and mental health. However, many people struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up feeling rested. Research has shown that practicing meditation can help improve many aspects of sleep.

In today’s fast-paced world, stress is very common. Unfortunately, this stress often interferes with our ability to relax and fall into deep, restorative sleep.

Meditation helps reduce stress and racing thoughts that can disrupt sleep. Studies have found that meditating before bedtime can help people fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night.

How Meditation Helps Improve Sleep

There are a few key ways that practicing meditation can lead to better sleep:

1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor sleep. The body releases stress hormones like cortisol that interfere with the ability to fall and stay asleep. Research has shown meditation helps lower cortisol levels, reducing stress and anxiety.

One study found that after just three days of meditation training for 30 minutes per day, participants had significantly reduced anxiety, stress and fatigue.

2. Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can also negatively impact sleep. A meta-analysis found transcendental meditation helped lower blood pressure, reducing hypertension. As high blood pressure can interrupt sleep, bringing it down via meditation may improve sleep quality.

3. Relaxes the Body and Mind

Meditation is an incredible relaxation tool that signals the body to relax by lowering heart rate and breathing. This helps transition both the body and mind into a calm state, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. Studies show meditation increases melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone .

4. Reduces Mind Wandering and Rumination

Mind wandering and rumination (repetitive anxious thoughts) are key barriers to falling asleep. The practice of meditation trains the mind to stay focused in the present moment. Over time this reduces habitual mind wandering, rumination, and emotional reactivity – all of which can delay and disrupt sleep.


Different Types of Meditation for Improved Sleep

Many different forms of meditation can help sleep, including:

1. Mindfulness Meditation: This involves sitting quietly while bringing awareness to the present moment by focusing on things like the breath. Studies show just two weeks of mindfulness meditation improve sleep quality.

2.Body Scan Meditations: These systematically bring attention through different parts of the body in order to relax each muscle group. Relaxing the body cues the mind to unwind, signaling it’s time for sleep.

3. Guided Imagery and Visualization: Guided meditations that engage imagination and visualization can divert racing thoughts. Visualizing relaxing scenes signals safety to the mind, reducing anxiety.

4. Loving Kindness Meditation: By cultivating feelings of compassion and kindness, this meditation alleviates Negative mind states that interfere with sleep like anger, resentment and fear.

5. Transcendental Meditation: This popular, standardized form uses a mantra to settle the mind. A meta-analysis shows transcendental meditation significantly improves sleep quality.

Best Time to Meditate for Better Sleep

Creating a consistent meditation practice is important. When it comes to better sleep, the best times to meditate are:

Morning Meditation – Set the tone for a less stressful day.

Midday Meditation – Clear an overwhelmed mind after a stressful morning.

Early Evening Meditation – Transition mind & body out of busy work mode.

Nightly Meditation – Directly before bed quiets mental chatter.

How Long to Meditate For Sleep Benefits

One of the great things about meditation for sleep is that the benefits come quite quickly and grow over time. Research on the optimal meditation length shows:

1. Even just 10 minutes can induce a relaxation response. With consistency, sleep continues to improve.

2. 20-30 minute sessions seem to be the “sweet spot” for significant relaxation and lowering stress hormones.

3. 45+ minutes per day provides maximal mind/body relaxation and overnight improvements.

Tips for Using Meditation to Improve Your Sleep

If you struggle with sleep, bringing meditation into your wellness toolkit can help improve the quality and duration of sleep. Here are some tips:

1. Start small – Even just 5-10 mins can make a difference. Find an easy, beginner meditation to practice in the morning or before bed. Apps like Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer have excellent sleep-focused meditations.

2. Be consistent – Like exercise for the body, the mind needs repeated meditation sessions to rewire thought patterns. Make meditation a habit by attaching it to an existing routine like morning coffee or brushing teeth.

3. Optimize surroundings – Meditate in a quiet, calm room. Make sure the space is comfortable, distraction-free and technology is silenced and out of sight. Consider using a meditation cushion to promote proper posture.

4. Track benefits – Jot down sleep quality and duration changes in a journal. Tracking progress helps motivation to stick with regular practice.

5. Address barriers – Common obstacles like chronic pain, restless legs, sleep apnea and medications may require consultation with a doctor or sleep specialist.

The Research on Meditation and Sleep

Dozens of studies have now proven a link between meditation and improved sleep. A systematic review analyzing over 18,000 studies found mindfulness meditation significantly improved several sleep issues including: sleep quality, sleep onset latency, total sleep time, total wake time and wake after sleep onset.

Research also shows meditation can benefit people with sleep disorders like insomnia. One study found two months of deep breathing meditation helped reduce insomnia symptoms. Similarly, loving-kindness meditation for six weeks increased sleep time and reduced fatigue for people with chronic insomnia.


Quality sleep is vital for well-being. Our modern, 24/7 lifestyle fills many peoples’ minds with endless thoughts and stimulation late into the evening – exactly what keeps people staring at the ceiling unable to fall asleep.

The ancient practice of meditation is proven to calm the nervous system, relax the body, tame the racing monkey mind and pave the path for better sleep. Research shows that by spending just 10-20 minutes each day practicing various forms of meditation, people fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night, and report higher quality and more restorative sleep overall.