Deep Sleep Meditation: A Path to Restful Nights

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
May 22, 2024
Last updated:
May 21, 2024

Have you ever been exhausted at the end of a long, stressful day – but when your head hits the pillow, sleep is nowhere to be found? If the answer is yes, you’re probably one of the many Australians suffering from at least one sleep problem, whether it’s diagnosed insomnia or simply sleep that’s too short or of poor quality.

Given this national sleep deficit, it’s no surprise people are quick to jump on any new solution that may lead to a good night’s shut-eye. One concept that’s proving popular is deep sleep meditation, a practice that produces a deep sense of relaxation, which is believed to help deliver a deeper, more restorative sleep. 

Let’s explain deep sleep meditation and how to integrate it into your nighttime routine.

What is Deep Sleep Meditation (and How Does it Work)?

The practice is believed to date back to 1000 BC and is also known as Yoga Nidra. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you may have experienced a taste of it in the form of the Savasana at the end of a class. A form of ‘yogic sleep,’ this meditation involves lying on your back and reaching a meditative state where you’re deeply relaxed in mind and body but not actually asleep. 

The goal is to let go of any physical tension or stress and let your breath guide you to a heightened sense of tranquillity. The technique also helps train your mind to break free of everyday thoughts and distractions and feel grounded in the present.

While this type of mindful meditation can certainly help us wind down before we fall asleep at night, it’s also a valuable practice to master at other times of the day. According to research, 20 minutes each day could help us improve our ability to ‘switch off’ into a relaxed state of being when we choose—which, in turn, could reduce insomnia, fatigue, and even depression. These benefits may be due to the paced breathing involved in sleep meditation, which stimulates the vagus nerve.

The Benefits of Deep Sleep

As you may know, our bodies cycle through different types of sleep. However, they’re all critical. Deep sleep dramatically influences our overall wellbeing. Deep sleep happens just before we enter the REM phase (when rapid eye movement occurs and our most intense dreams happen). 

During deep sleep (also known as slow-wave sleep), our brain waves slow down, allowing rest and recovery. It’s hard to wake up during this stage, even with the loudest noises, and if you do wake up mid-deep sleep, you’re likely to feel groggy. Your breathing and heartbeat become slower in this phase, and your muscles relax.

The benefits of deep sleep are vast and multifaceted. We need it to restore energy, restore cells, grow and repair tissue and bones, and strengthen the immune system. During deep sleep, glucose metabolism in the brain increases, supporting memory and learning capability. It’s also when hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland, which we need for growth and development.

In short, if you’re missing out on deep sleep, you’re missing out on many levels.

Getting Started with Deep Sleep Meditation

Many guided meditations are available online (try YouTube or Spotify),  which help teach you the basics of sleep meditation. You can also get started by following the simple steps below.

  1. Get comfortable. You may prefer to sit or lie down—in any case, just make sure your physical comfort isn’t a distraction.
  2. Bring your attention to your breath. Softly close your eyes, and take slow breaths through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Scan your body. Start at the top of your head and move through your body, paying attention to the feelings and trying to release any tension you encounter.
  4. Envisage a peaceful place. Maybe it’s a beach, a forest or a happy memory with loved ones. Put yourself there mentally.
  5. Let thoughts float by. It’s natural for thoughts to come up, but instead of fixating on them, try to let them pass without judgment.

6 More Tips For Deeper Sleep

In addition to adding meditation to the mix, these tactics can also help improve your time in deep sleep mode.

  1. Establish good sleep hygiene, with the same sleep and wake times each day (even on weekends) and no screen time for an hour or two before bed.
  2. Get enough exercise – at least 20 minutes of movement a day.
  3. Ban devices from your bedroom (especially the mobile, with all its notifications, lights and pings!).
  4. Make your sleep environment comfortable with good-quality pillows, breathable linen and sleepwear, and a cool room (about 18°C is considered optimum).
  5. Try listening to white noise, music or soundscapes that relax (plenty of these playlists online).
  6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed – both these substances can interfere with your body’s ability to sleep properly.

Have you tried everything and are still struggling with sleep? Don’t hesitate to consult your GP for advice—good quality sleep is too important to live without.

Embrace Deep Sleep Meditation for Restful Nights

Deep sleep meditation offers a time-tested solution for better sleep. Rooted in ancient practices like Yoga Nidra, it fosters profound relaxation, paving the way for restorative sleep.

By weaving moments of mindfulness into our nightly routine, we honour our bodies' need for rest and unlock the potential for holistic well-being. Embrace deep sleep meditation as a sanctuary amidst the chaos, guiding you into rejuvenating slumber.

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