Meditation Before Sleep
May 19, 2012 7:49 PM   Subscribe

What sort of meditation would be appropriate to aid in attaining a deep sleep? Something to do in bed immediately before you doze off?
posted by parallax7d to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
Sleep doctors always recommended to me progressive muscle relaxation, though I can't really say it was of too much help to me.
posted by lewedswiver at 8:00 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this really would help, but it definitely works for me:

I have created an imaginary town. And nights when I really need sleep - good sleep - I walk through it and have conversations with the people who live there. Or I go into the shops, theaters, museums, what-have-you until my imagination gives up and allows me rest.

It's a fun "lull yourself to sleep" kind of thing and it also is a good way of allowing your subconscious mind some entry into helping you solve whatever may be keeping you up or unable to get to sleep.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2012 [23 favorites]

It's not that I have a disorder, or insomnia, I just want better sleep.
posted by parallax7d at 8:16 PM on May 19, 2012

I do what LT does, but with a house. I basically imagine each room in minute detail--it focuses my mind away from whatever is worrying me or exciting me or otherwise distracting me from sleep.

I know a surprising number of people for whom building rooms or towns or houses is an excellent sleep aid.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:21 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I'm wound up, I go through in my head a catalogue of making sure muscles are relaxed from the toes up, e.g. "Relax your toes...relax the balls of your feet...relax your arches...relax your ankles..." and so on. I don't move on to the next muscle until I notice that the named one is not tense.

This works pretty well for me, and I am often a jaw-clenching, tooth-grinding tornado of caffeine and fists when I have something important or difficult coming up in the monring.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:26 PM on May 19, 2012

I do the sort of "building a town" thing except I imagine myself in a wilderness, and make a shelter. Sort of like Minecraft. The feeling of security, in my own little cabin/cave/lean-to, combines nicely with the rain sound (I use Lightning Bug app on my phone to make white-noise rain sounds) to lull me into deeper sleep. Rain or wind sounds (or imaging rain or wind) and mentally "building a shelter" against them is, I find, very comforting.
posted by The otter lady at 8:43 PM on May 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Meditation Podcast, episodes 6 and 14.
posted by stray at 8:44 PM on May 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

You might try the Relaxation Response meditation (2).
posted by en forme de poire at 9:33 PM on May 19, 2012

I'm a huge fan of Moodstreams guided meditation podcasts, which are on iTunes -- I've recommended them here before, but they've been hugely helpful to get me to sleep. I very rarely hear the end of the 15-20 minute podcast because I'm already asleep! Guided meditations are kind of the easy version of the "creating/building a town" ideas above because the meditations tell you exactly what to picture without you having to devise the scene from scratch.
posted by pised at 9:43 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start at 100, count backwords, 100 on inhale, 99 on exhale, 98 on inhale, etc. If your mind wanders, start over. Slow your breathing with every number. Almost always works for me. I found it in a meditation for sleep book years ago.
posted by nadawi at 10:31 PM on May 19, 2012

I like to imagine a warmth spreading through my body, starting at the tops of my toes and working up very slowly from there. A variation on the 'relax each muscle' technique, I guess.
posted by DSime at 11:05 PM on May 19, 2012

I don't know if it leads to better sleep but visualizing driving down a road, possibly downhill, helps me not focus on things that might be keeping me awake.
posted by 3mendo at 4:08 AM on May 20, 2012

I have a prompt that I use, taken from my lucid dreaming days, I only imagine this place when I want to go to sleep, it's appearance signals rest time. It took a while to link this prompt with sleep, but now it's a reliable relaxation tool, not my only one, but it helps.

It can be really anything, but mine is a scrubby east coast woodland. I am lying in a dry riverbed, I can feel the rocks and mud, and slowly warm water begins to flow into the riverbed. I focus on the feel of the water, the rise of the water, the look of the trees above me, the sound of birds, keeping note which body parts are now in the water, and by the time it reaches my face, I'm asleep.

It doesn't have to be anything like that, just the idea of a prompt you only use before sleep, something peaceful but complex enough that you can idly meditate on the details before your brain wanders into a sleep state.
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 PM on May 20, 2012

It's not meditative specifically, but masturbation is a powerful relaxant, can be done immediately before sleep, etc.
posted by mcbeth at 11:59 AM on May 21, 2012

I worked out a set of rules and a mental exercise for my children to help them ease into sleep. I am probably a little too proud of this thing so excuse the pedantry. For the mental exercise, I helped my children identify a thing that they liked well enough to think about, but not well enough to get excited and stay up all night thinking about it. This is tricky. For my daughter, it was Sponge Bob's pineapple under the sea. For me it is the USS Excelsior. I don't remember what my son's thing was.

The rules of sleep are:

1) Get comfortable
2) Don't move
3) Close your eyes
4) Don't talk
5) Think about your thing

I encouraged them to do a mental walk-through of their thing. To hold the thing in their mind's eye and turn it around and look at it from different angles. If they didn't fall asleep in about three minutes, their thing was too exciting and they switched to something else. But once they nailed down their thing and followed the rules (after the regular bedtime rituals - brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc), they fell asleep quite quickly.
posted by N0TALLTHERE at 7:05 AM on May 25, 2012

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