Meditation can be done before sleep, and while it can’t substitute sleep, it can reduce people’s need for sleep. While the most optimal time for meditation is in the morning when we can start our day in a good light, some resort to guided meditations specifically tailored for sleep.
There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all, and most meditation advice is based on what works for most, which may not necessarily work for you.
Nonetheless, there’s one thing many don’t know about meditation as much wonder, and that is if it’s possible to meditate while sleeping simultaneously.
Meditation requires us to keep our awareness and focus on the practice throughout the entire session, therefore, we can’t meditate while sleeping simultaneously, but there are exceptions, such as keeping the mind awake.
But meditating before sleeping may provide better sleep and keep us in a mindful state throughout the day.
At this point, it’s debatable whether it’s sleeping since we still retain our consciousness, and that’s the phenomenon of the mind-awake-body-asleep.
As you can keep your awareness while the body isn’t, you can try meditating and focusing on the sensations you feel. However, there’s a chance you may drift into sleep or even have lucid dreams.
Many aspiring lucid dreamers meditate for this very purpose, but it isn’t recommended to meditate while the body is asleep, unless your purpose is to have an experience that meditation aids with.
Meditation alone can be boring, but it’s falling in love with the boredom by finding peace in such boredom where many long-term meditators prosper with the practice.
To the point where they enjoy the process and not just the outcome of meditation practice and meditation becomes more of a recreational discipline.
On the other hand, there’s a chance that you can retain your awareness while being in a hypnagogic state and stay awake and conscious, at which point, if you’re one of the rare individuals that can induce it, you’d be able to in turn increase your likelihood to control your dreams and even meditate in your dreams.
Meditating In A Dream Is Technically Meditating While Sleeping
Keeping your awareness in lucid dreams can be a challenge, but it can be a lot of fun as well.
If you happen to fall asleep as you try meditating while sleeping, you’d technically be meditating while sleeping. When most people say you can’t meditate while sleeping they simply mean that awareness can’t be absent while you dream, since meditation requires awareness.
Fortunately, if you meditate in a lucid dream, you’re more likely to gain even more awareness and control of your dream, thus, prolonging the lucid dreaming experience and overall making you a better meditator.
Some people report getting better at their craft through lucid dreaming alone, and if your goal is to become more mindful with meditation and you are one of the fortunate individuals that get a lucid dream, you can practice meditation here while simultaneously enjoying what’s in the lucid dream.
You may even be able to boost your creativity if you combine lucid dreaming with meditation, as you get in touch with new ideas and visuals that were unknown to you.
One advantage of having lucid dreaming as a goal with meditation is that you can see the meditation as more enjoyable, and becomes part of the process for something else.
Even if the practice becomes a stepping stone for something else, you’d still be meditating consistently, which in the grand scheme of things is what matters to build a routine.
However, it’s recommended that you meditate not while you’re sleeping, since there’s a high likelihood that you’ll fall asleep without lucid dreaming, but instead before you sleep.
Meditating Before You Sleep
By doing the practice before you sleep, you increase the likelihood for deeper and higher quality sleep, which, a byproduct of that, can be gaining consciousness while sleeping, but see it as a bonus rather than dependence.
Those who struggle to pick up meditation as a habit may benefit from incorporating it before they sleep, as they normalize the idea and as a result can create less resistance when they try to do it outside of bed.
Meditation can feel like too much of a commitment for a lot of people but merging meditation with something we naturally do sets up the environment to favor our practice.
At the very least, if you attempt meditation before sleeping and don’t end up meditating, you’ve likely calmed the mind and over time, the mind just sees meditation as a natural bedtime routine and allows for the release of stress.
In fact, if you’re having trouble getting a night of good quality sleep, meditation might do the trick.
The only downside is the lack of subconscious association to meditation if we fall asleep in the process, as opposed to retaining our awareness throughout the session. Nonetheless, pre-sleep meditators can still experience the same benefit post-sleep meditators experience.
To be fair, looking at the other side of the equation, meditating before sleep can also backfire if we’re presented with negative imagery, which in turn, worsens the quality of sleep.
At night we don’t always have the energy to confront parts of ourselves that might be unpleasant, since meditation does require energy and focus, and allows for any thoughts or emotions we get.
Which, depending on where we are at the time of meditating, can either be a good thing or a bad thing, and also, depending on how prepared we are, since meditation can take some mental strength, but in exchange, we can become tougher mentally.
In the morning, however, the mind has more energy as we’re fully replenished, provided that we had a good amount of sleep, and thus, confronting our shadow becomes easier.
However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be this way, since meditation isn’t just limited to observing our thoughts or focusing on our breath. There’s body scan meditation which I’ll go into which removes the previously mentioned risk of unpleasant thoughts manifesting.
How Sleep Meditation Is Done
There are several ways to do sleep meditation. One can be where we are guided by relaxed audios and another one is the previously mentioned body scan, which consists of letting go of thoughts and instead, focusing on the sensations throughout our body.
Instructors can sometimes guide us through a body scan to give us a clear path to meditation, especially for those that consider meditation lonesome.
Another form of meditation we can practice before bed is sleep meditation, where we take notice of the small things in our day-to-day that brings us joy and one I’ve personally used before sleeping.
This takes away the risk of thoughts wandering freely in a bad direction where we feel uncomfortable. Instead, make a small rewind of the day and make a list of things one is grateful for.
At this point, it’s arguable whether it turns into meditation since we’re taking away our attention from the present and it becomes a mere gratitude exercise before bed just to sleep better.
But one way around it to make it more resemble the true purpose of meditation is thinking at things that are present within our life, preferably in the now that we are grateful for.
For instance, chanting to your mind “I’m grateful for the comfortable bed I have.” or “I’m grateful for the profession that I have” without focusing on one specific timeline but still practicing gratitude as if it were the now.
Another alternative is chanting as we drift to sleep, or even silencing inner dialogue, but this can be risky as it allows thoughts to wander freely which can lead to unpleasant imagery.
There isn’t a sleeping meditation that works for everyone, and thus, getting it right before bed can be a process of trial and error, but the major plus of bedtime meditation is that it’s a habit easier to adopt as we’re already laying down and generally don’t have to do much.
There are far too many choices for meditation, but sticking to these basic ones should be a good start for many.