Woman sleeping

Guided Mindfulness Meditation: Sleep Better Than You Ever Have

It took me two years, but I finally convinced two of my friends, or ‘mates’ as we call them in London, to join me in a meditation class.

Let’s just say that they weren’t ‘meditation types’. But all credit to them – they joined the class.

Five minutes into the session, I hear loud snoring over my right shoulder. I turn to see one of my friends with his head back snoring, mouth open, all 32 of his teeth showing. This was not a sleep meditation session.

Meditation encourages deep relaxation, a lower heart rate, activation of the parasympathetic system, and slowing your breathing. All contributing to the ideal conditions to improve sleep quality.

The parasymawhat…? The parasympathetic system is a network of nerves that relaxes the body after periods of stress.

Is it okay to sleep when you meditate?

I’m gonna say, no. And here’s why.

Meditation is an umbrella term that stems from the word ‘ponder’, and the common agreement is that meditation requires awareness. There is a sleep meditation practice called Yoga Nidra (meaning sleep in Sanskrit), but this meditation is a sleep-like state – not sleep.

There’s nothing that can replace the benefits of restful sleep that include:

  • Keeps your heart healthy
  • Improves your ability to learn and keep memories
  • Reduces the risk of cancer
  • Help to maintain a healthy weight
  • Improved overall health, immunity to disease, and body repair
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Helps emotional and mental wellbeing
  • Improves relationships (because you’re not groggy).
Woman sleeping in bed face down

What to do to stay awake when you meditate

If you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, the first thing to be aware of is that it’s okay. Falling asleep when you meditate isn’t a sign of failure, it’s just telling you that you need rest and that you can do some things to stay awake.

Change your position

One of the easiest ways to reduce your chance of falling asleep is to change your position when meditating.


For short meditations, you could try a standing meditation, these are great for when you want to feel more grounded, during times when you feel like you’re starting to lose control. It’s important to note that if you want to close your eyes, you can feel disorientated and fall, so I suggest leaning against the wall for this practice.

Personally, I do this on the commute to work. For anyone that’s enjoyed a commute in rush hour London Underground, you’ll know this is a great opportunity to be more grounded.

Check out the best podcasts to listen to on your walk here.


Another way that is more physical when you meditate is mindful walking meditation. People often think that meditation is only about sitting or lying down, but meditation is more about mindfulness of the present than what we do with the body.


Called the moving meditation, yoga can also be a great practice where you focus on your breathing and your body in the present moment. 

So if we shouldn’t sleep, why are there so many guided sleep meditations?

While sleep doesn’t count as meditation, meditation before going to bed is an excellent practice to help you get a great night’s sleep.

I personally suffered from acute stress-related insomnia, and I can tell you – it’s almost impossible to start to recover mentally when you’re not getting any sleep.

Can guided meditation help you sleep?

I can highly recommend meditation for better sleep. There are two ways that meditation can help you sleep better, and not all are before you go to bed.

Meditation during the day

I’ve said that I have a history of missing sleep, and I think I’ve read and tried everything I could get my hands on to get a few more minutes of sleep at night. 

One thing that really made a difference was learning about the circadian rhythm – the body’s sleep clock. 

Many of us think that everything about sleep relates to what we do at night, but what we do the moment after we wake up is also key, such as exposing our eyes directly to daylight (even on a cloudy day).

Meditation during the day can help you get a good night’s sleep by addressing one of the key reasons for insomnia – an overactive mind.

By meditating regularly, we can transform our minds to be more resistant to being hijacked by our thoughts. How many times have you gone to bed and wished you could just relax and let go of the thoughts in your mind? It’s also a good practice to help with anxiety, as anxiety about sleep obviously happens before we go to bed.

Sleep meditation

Sleep meditation comes in two forms, a meditation to do to prepare you for sleep, and a meditation to do in bed to help you fall asleep. One isn’t better than the other and is all about what works for you to get a good sleep.

Woman sleeping in her bed

Guided meditation for sleep

I have to admit, I am a bit of a guided sleep meditation addict. There are apps, podcasts, and a plethora of YouTube videos to help you find deep restful sleep (You can find one of mine here – shameful self-promotion).

Sleep meditations come in several forms:

  • Sleep stories – Stories read in a soothing voice, the app Calm has cornered the market with celebrity readers. Some debate if this is considered a meditation, but as long as your mind is focused on the story, and in the present, in my book it qualifies.
  • Counting guided meditations – For an overactive mind, counting is a great practice to fall asleep. Most of us have heard of counting sheep working, and this is because it helps us to return to the present when the mind wanders.
  • Body scan meditation – the body scan meditation is a great way to find calm and again anchor our attention on the present so you can fall asleep. The guided meditation practice scans the body looking for sensations and putting your attention and focus on each body part. As you find areas of tension, you let them go so you feel physical and mental relaxation.
How to meditate to sleep: Empty bed ready for sleep

How to get the best night’s sleep with sleep meditation

Stress and lack of sleep cause a vicious loop. If you don’t sleep, you feel more stressed. If you are stressed, you don’t sleep. The only way to break that loop is to build sleep meditation into your routine.

Sleep meditation tips

  • Meditation during the day will give a better chance of falling asleep at night
  • Release any tension and release some of the day’s energy with gentle exercise
  • Prepare to fall asleep, make sure you’ve done all your chores and you’re ready to focus on falling asleep
  • If you struggle to stay asleep, get out of bed and try another round of meditation to help you rest and relax before you’re ready to go back to sleep. Try not to worry about how much time you have and whether you’ll be getting enough sleep, as this just adds to your sleep anxiety

The key takeaway

In its purest form, sleep is not meditation. However, if you wish to have better sleep, stay asleep for longer, and rest and relax before bedtime, meditation for sleep is something you should practice.

Have you tried any of these tips? Is there any more that you could add? Let me know in the comments.

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