Meditation for when you can’t sleep

Racing thoughts. Anxious chatter. Stressing about the next day. These are hallmarks of a mind unable to unwind and fall asleep. For many, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to get much-needed rest. And with most corporate employees at home, the lines between personal and work lives have blurred, further complicating the process of unplugging for the day.

Lack of rest can make you short-tempered—compounding the moodiness many of us already feel amid the pandemic—and compromises concentration. In the long-term, it can also lead to health problems like high blood pressure and weakened immunity.

If you are struggling to get rest, meditation is a great way to relax your body and calm your mind. Here are the Be team’s meditation tips for when you can’t sleep.

  • Cut screen time before bed: This isn’t a meditation-specific tip but it’s an important one. Try to limit screen time—whether it’s your phone, television, or tablet—30 minutes before bed. It’s tempting to check email one last time or scroll through Twitter, but unwinding is easier when you set aside your screens in favor of a cup of tea, calming music, and light stretching.
  • Body scan: We’ve talked about body scans on the blog before and they are a great relaxation tool. Lay in bed with your eyes closed and take a few deep breaths, concentrating on the flow of air in and out of your lungs. Move your awareness to your head, noticing any tension and taking a deep breath to release it. You can also visualize this part of your body sinking into the mattress. Move your awareness down your body to your neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs, and feet, concentrating on one area at a time.
  • Deep breathing: This tactic is a great way to leverage the calming properties of your breath. Inhale for at least five beats, hold for two, then exhale for five beats. Repeat this process, counting each breath if you can. As you breathe deeply, think about sinking into your mattress and pillow.
  • Calming visualizations: If you need to give your brain something specific to focus on, try visualizing a calming place. It could be your grandmother’s kitchen or a beach at sunset. Think about all the sensations—from the smell in the air to the sounds of birds chirping—and let a sense of calm wash over you.
  • Guided meditation: There are many sleep-specific guided meditations available through apps like Calm and Buddhify and on websites like YouTube. Guided meditations can be useful if it’s easier to concentrate on someone else’s voice.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Tell us about your tactics in the comments below.

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