Why You Should Meditate Before Going to Sleep

While getting the optimum amount of sleep plays a key role in our health and wellbeing, not everyone enjoys perfect slumber every night of the week.

Generally speaking, society works on the theory that an average of eight hours of sleep per night is the sweet spot for most adults. The word ‘average’ is the key one, with some adults perfectly capable of functioning on less sleep while others may need more.

Getting quality sleep is ultimately about establishing a bedtime routine and sticking to it, although other elements undoubtedly contribute. They include creating a restful ambience in the bedroom, buying a quality mattress and keeping digital devices away from the sleep environment.

Before people get to the point where sleep occurs, they generally have to undertake some form of pre-bedtime ritual to relax themselves. This can vary between different individuals but is often simple things such as reading a book, listening to relaxing music or watching something light-hearted on television.

However, according to recent research by Betway Insider, the number one bedtime activity for getting a good night’s sleep is undertaking 30 minutes of meditation. The study assessed 14 different pre-bedtime activities to determine how well participants slept after undertaking them. They found that the people who meditated slept an average of eight hours and four minutes and spent only 12 minutes awake during the night.

By contrast, participants who watched horror films on TV before bedtime slept an average of just seven hours and 30 minutes and spent 26 minutes awake.

To understand why meditation is so beneficial to sleep, we delved deeper to find out how this practice actually works.

An introduction to meditation


Meditation has its roots in an ancient Hindu tradition originating in India which was designed to clear the mind and remove stress.

Although it was practiced widely in Asia for many centuries, the health benefits provided by meditation were not really taken seriously in the rest of the world until the 1960s.

In simple terms, meditation can be linked to several different techniques that focus on strengthening the relationship between the mind and body.

Breath control is a core construct of meditation, particularly when it is applied as a methodology to improve the quality of a person’s sleep.

How do I meditate?

There are numerous ways that people can meditate and what suits one individual may not necessarily be beneficial to another when it comes to improving the quality of sleep.

Before we look at one of the most commonly used forms of meditation to aid sleep, here are some of the most popular options:

  • Yoga Nidra
  • Gratitude Meditation
  • Relaxing Breath Meditation
  • Candle Gazing Meditation
  • Relaxing Body Scan

According to experts at Harvard Medical School, Gratitude Meditation can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep.

They split their study participants into two groups for 10 weeks. One group focused on writing down the things they were grateful for, the others wrote about things that annoyed them

At the end of the study period, the positive group felt better in themselves, had less illnesses and enjoyed much better quality of sleep.

To undertake Gratitude Meditation as part of a pre-bedtime ritual, it can be adapted as follows:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position in a relaxing environment.
  • Take deep breaths to relax yourself and slow down your mind.
  • Think about something you are grateful for – this may be family, emotions or anything that puts you in a positive headspace.
  • Focus on now rather than the past – enjoy your current surroundings.
  • Concentrate on keeping your breathing rhythmical.
  • As you become more relaxed, embrace the sense of gratitude in your mind.

When should I meditate?

While meditating before bedtime is linked to getting better quality sleep, there are no hard and fast rules about when you should do it.

Some studies suggest the benefits of meditation are cumulative, meaning that if you meditate earlier in the day you will sleep better each night.

It is also beneficial to meditate whenever stress enters your day, as this can help you mind deal better with whatever life has thrown at it.

However, from the perspective of using it as a pre-bedtime routine, the optimum time is generally around 30 minutes before your head hits the pillow.

By setting aside an amount of time to meditate before sleep, you are effectively establishing a sleep schedule that your body and mind will become accustomed to.

Many people make the mistake of trying to get to sleep after undertaking activities that are not restful such as working out or watching true crime on TV.

By creating a window for meditating, you will train your body and mind into recognising that it is soon time to go to sleep.

Does meditating provide any other benefits?

Numerous academic studies have shown that meditation has the power to deliver various other benefits to physical and mental health.

Meditating can help to reduce blood pressure, has been widely used to manage acute or chronic pain and can aid weight control.

As mentioned earlier, meditating is also a great way to reduce stress, which ties in to it being extremely useful in tackling conditions such as anxiety and depression.

It has also been found to improve mental health in people living with cancer, helping reduce their worries and improving their sleep.

Mediation and sleep – The final word

While the information surrounding meditation and sleep may seem mind-boggling, it is actually really easy to start benefiting from the practice.

Do not worry about living up to your pre-conceived ideas about meditating – what works for you, may not work for someone else and vice-versa.

Meditation is ultimately a support tool designed to relax your mind and body. Embrace what it aims to deliver and your sleep will improve as a result.