Home / Sleep Aids / Sleep Meditation

Sleep Meditation

Jay Summer

Written by

Jay Summer, Staff Writer

John DeBanto

Medically Reviewed by

John DeBanto, Internal Medicine Physician

Fact Checked Icon
Fact Checked

Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts rigorously evaluates each article to ensure the information is accurate and exclusively cites reputable sources. Learn More

Recency Statement Icon

We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.

Mindfulness meditation is the act of intentionally moving your awareness to the present moment. With a long history in multiple religious traditions, mindfulness is now a mainstream practice popular worldwide. Meditation practices can be silent or they can be coupled with movement or sound. Meditation can be helpful for managing anxiety, stress, and difficulty sleeping.

How Sleep Meditation Works

Meditation likely promotes sleep by reducing pain sensitivity and stress, both of which can disturb sleep. The research around meditation and how it works to reduce anxiety, depression, and pain is ongoing.

Studies have found that the practice of meditation reduces pain-related activity in the thalamus, which is a small sensory structure in the brain. Meditation likely affects multiple parts of the brain simultaneously, helping to reduce discomfort by changing the perception of it.

Benefits of Sleep Meditation

Meditation has many potential benefits for sleep, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and pain.

Overall, reducing stress may help you get better sleep. Sleep meditation usually incorporates soothing, calming sounds or music, which can contribute to a relaxing environment. Some studies have shown a link between mindfulness meditation and improved sleep.

Sleep meditation may also help you adjust to a new sleep schedule or sleeping arrangement. Traveling often and staying in hotels can be disruptive and impact your sleep. Jet lag and shift work are two common factors that can lead to sleep disturbances and short-term insomnia. Meditation has been shown to have a mild impact on certain symptoms of insomnia.

Who Should Use Sleep Meditation

Sleep meditation may benefit those who have difficulty falling asleep. One study of people with insomnia reported a reduction in time spent lying awake, psychological arousal, and overall symptoms severity. Older adults in particular may benefit from sleep meditation. Research suggests that engaging in mindfulness practices for 10 to 30 minutes a day can help older adults improve their sleep.

There is little to no research on how sleep mindfulness meditation might impact other sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and narcolepsy. Sleep mindfulness practices may not help you achieve better sleep if you’re struggling with these sleep disorders. However, meditation may help you feel more relaxed and calm before bed and could be a great addition to your nightly routine.

Ultimately, sleep meditation is available to anyone, not only people with sleep troubles. If you want to feel more relaxed, calm, and centered before bed, sleep meditation might be for you.



How to Try Sleep Meditation Before Bed

Sleep meditation can be as simple as breathing in while counting to four and breathing out while counting to four. Four by four breathing, or box breathing, is a common quick and effective meditation practice that you can practice anywhere, anytime.

If you would prefer guided sleep meditations, you may want to consider sleep meditation apps, videos, or playlists.

Sleep Meditation Apps

Meditation and mindfulness apps are popular, and there is a wide variety available. When looking for a mindfulness app, consider the following questions:

  • Am I willing to pay for a subscription?
  • Do I want guided meditations, calming sounds, or both?
  • Do I want the ability to access meditations offline?
  • Do I want the app to track my sleep?
  • Do I want to be able to journal my thoughts and progress in the app?

Once you have more of an idea of what type of app you are looking for, your options might not feel so overwhelming. Some of the most popular sleep apps include:

  • Headspace: Headspace integrates with an Apple Watch to track meditation progress. It offers meditation for sleep as well as stress, focus, resilience, and sadness. You can use a free version or upgrade for more features.
  • Slumber: Slumber offers guided sleep meditations, as well as calming nature sounds and music. You can use Slumber offline if you’re away from WiFi.
  • Calm: Calm is an app most known for its soothing stories told by famous celebrities. However, Calm also offers guided sleep meditations and breathing exercises. It does not track your sleep and requires a subscription for full access.
  • Buddhify: Buddhify offers over 200 meditations, including sleep, stress, and pain meditations. It can sync with an Apple Watch.

Sleep Meditation Videos and Playlists

Guided sleep meditation videos can be found online through YouTube. Additionally, you can find both guided and unguided meditation playlists on Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora Radio.  It may take some experimentation to find what types of videos and playlists work best for you.

Additional Tips for Better Sleep

Creating and maintaining good sleep hygiene also helps improve sleep quality. If you are struggling with getting good rest, take an inventory of your entire pre-sleep routine. You may be able to get more better sleep by incorporating healthy habits:

  • Make your room as comfortable and dark as possible. Investing in a good mattress and pillows, as well as darkening shades, may help promote a more relaxing sleeping arrangement.
  • Make an effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Put away phones and other electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
  • Read a book to help relax your mind.
  • Take a hot shower before bed.
  • Sip on a hot herbal tea at least an hour before bedtime.

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep

For some, guided sleep meditations and good sleep hygiene may not be enough. If you’re having sleeping issues that do not seem to become better by changing your routine or taking over-the-counter sleep aids, then it may be time to talk to your doctor. You and your doctor can explore sleep medications and other treatments that may be more impactful than meditations.

  • Was this article helpful?
  • YesNo

About Our Editorial Team

Jay Summer

Staff Writer

Jay Summer is a health content writer and editor. She holds a B.S. in psychology and master's degrees in writing and public policy.

John DeBanto

Internal Medicine Physician


Dr. DeBanto is a medical doctor and gastroenterologist with 20 years of experience in obesity management and related issues such as sleep apnea.


+12  Sources
  • 1.
    Trousselard, M., Steiler, D., Claverie, D., & Canini, F. (2014). The history of mindfulness put to the test of current scientific data: Unresolved questions. L'Encephale, 40(6), 474–480.
  • 2.
    Grant, J. A., & Rainville, P. (2009). Pain sensitivity and analgesic effects of mindful states in Zen meditators: A cross-sectional study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(1), 106–114.
  • 3.
    Nakata, H., Sakamoto, K., & Kakigi, R. (2014). Meditation reduces pain-related neural activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, secondary somatosensory cortex, and thalamus. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1489.
  • 4.
    Zeidan, F., & Vago, D. R. (2016). Mindfulness meditation-based pain relief: A mechanistic account. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), 114–127.
  • 5.
    Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., Berger, Z., Sleicher, D., Maron, D. D., Shihab, H. M., Ranasinghe, P. D., Linn, S., Saha, S., Bass, E. B., & Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357–368.
  • 6.
    Kim, E-J., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2007). The effect of psychosocial stress on sleep: A review of polysomnographic evidence. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 5(4), 256–278.
  • 7.
    Rusch, H. L., Rosario, M., Levison, L. M., Olivera, A., Livingston, W. S., Wu, T., & Gill, J. M. (2019). The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1445(1), 5–16.
  • 8.
    Schwab, R. J. (2020, June). Insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Merck Manual Consumer Version. Retrieved June 14, 2021 from,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/sleep-disorders/insomnia-and-excessive-daytime-sleepiness-eds
  • 9.
    Gong, H., Ni, C. X., Liu, Y. Z., Zhang, Y., Su, W. J., Lian, Y. J., Peng, W., & Jiang, C. L. (2016). Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 89, 1–6.
  • 10.
    Ong, J. C., Manber, R., Segal, Z., Xia, Y., Shapiro, S., & Wyatt, J. K. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep, 37(9), 1553–1563.
  • 11.
    Black, D. S., O'Reilly, G. A., Olmstead, R., Breen, E. C., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 494–501.
  • 12.
    Norelli, S.K., Long, A., & Krepps, J.M. (2020, September). Relaxation Techniques. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved July 21, 2021, from