Mindfulness Exercises For Sleep & Relaxation

Sleep better and feel more relaxed with our free mindfulness exercises, guided meditations, mindfulness worksheets and more. 

Bringing Wisdom and Love to All Parts of Our Lives

Bringing Wisdom and Love to All Parts of Our Lives

Donald Rothberg talks about a vision of bringing wisdom and love to all parts of our lives. In this meditation, ...
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Writing for Self-Compassion

Writing for Self-Compassion

The writing for self-compassion is an exercise that is designed to help cultivate and promote self-compassion through writing ...
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Meaning of life

Meaning of Life [Video]

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson answers the question “What is the meaning of life” asked by a 6 year old child ...
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Breathing Space

Breathing Space

Available for download, audible media of 10-minute meditation with just bells. Good for worry-free time-crunched meditation ...
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Impartial Kindness [Audio]

Impartial Kindness [Audio]

Kindness is a humble word. Usually, when you say about somebody, they’re really kind. It’s like a lukewarm word. It’s ...
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Gratitude and gladness

Gratitude and Gladness

Open to the sense of gratitude and gladness. Explore what these experiences are like and how it has the power ...
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Expanding Our Perception

Expanding Our Perception

There are certain tools, such as cameras, that allow us to expand our perception of other dimensions beyond what our ...
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Mindfulness

Pain: Local Intensity, Global Spread

Ines Freedman leads a guided meditation about Pain: Local Intensity, Global Spread. It's a body scan meditation that relieves the ...
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The 70 Rule or Why 7 Is the New

The 70% Rule: Why 7 Is The New 10

According to the 70% Rule, exerting a 70% effort is already very good or good enough. Find out whether perfectionism ...
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Rain Sounds – 10 Hours

Rain Sounds – 10 Hours

Listen to 10 hours of non-stop sound of rain for meditation, autogenic training, and deep sleep as well as for ...
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how do you make decisions

How Do You Make Decisions

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Decisions, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your belly, chest, ...
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Mind Appreciation – Meditation

Mind Appreciation – Meditation

To focus the mind, allow the body to become as relaxed as possible for the sake of delving deeply into ...
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Nikki Mirghafori

Guided Instructions on The Four Elements [Audio]

Guided Instructions on The Four Elements by Nikki Mirghafori:(long pause)As we arrive this morning to sit, invite yourself to settle into ...
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Pico Iyer, Gopi Kallayil Art of Stillness in Digital Age

Pico Iyer, Gopi Kallayil: Art of Stillness in Digital Age

One of the beauties of travel is that it allows you to bring stillness into the motion and the commotion ...
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Being Present for Whatever Arises

Being Present for Whatever Arises

Phillip Moffitt leads a meditation to be present for whatever arises or is occurring. To live in the current moment ...
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Nature of Awareness

If You Truly Love Me, Don’t Create Me in Your Mind

The kindest thing you can do to them whom you love is not to create them. Ajahn explains in Buddhist ...
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This Is Water - David Foster Wallace

This Is Water – David Foster Wallace

Highlights from David's speech to the Kenyon College class of 2005. An incredible examination of human consciousness, society, the soul, ...
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Penetrating Equanimity

Penetrating Equanimity

Phillip Moffitt talks about Penetrating Equanimity. "Teach us to care and not to care, teach us to sit still." This ...
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Guided Meditation with Atmospheric Music

Guided Meditation with Atmospheric Music

Find 25 minutes at least once a week to do this guided meditation with atmospheric music. Hear the soothing voice ...
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Guided Spoken Visualization

You Are Magnificent: Guided Spoken Visualization

You Are Magnificent: Guided Spoken Visualization is a piece of music and guided meditations to help you live in the ...
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Why Elite Performers Practice Mindfulness [Video]

Why Elite Performers Practice Mindfulness [Video]

Elite performers in fields such as sports and the military practice mindfulness meditation because it puts premium on real focus ...
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Be Yourself

Be Yourself Affirmations

Affirmations for today. Respect who you are and where you're at.. right at this present moment.Affirmations for Respecting Oneself1. Today, ...
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3 Simple & Effective Mindfulness Exercises for Professionals

3 Simple & Effective Mindfulness Exercises for Professionals

Here are a few mindfulness exercises for professionals that will help you to take charge of your mood, no matter ...
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Contentment

Contentment

Gil Fronsdal talks about Contentment. There's absolutely a lot of things in life to be content with. In mindfulness, contentment ...
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Short Mindfulness Quotes & Processes

Short Mindfulness Quotes & Processes

Get your daily dose of peace and inspiration through our short mindfulness quotes & processes to help you put your ...
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Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention

Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention

This review suggests that mindfulness training as a clinical intervention may be helpful in the treatment of chronic pain and ...
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Gregorian Chants at 432Hz 3 Hours of Healing Music

Gregorian Chants at 432Hz | 3 Hours of Healing Music

Enjoy 3 hours of Gregorian Chants and let the soothing sounds of their melodies evoke feelings of peace and relaxation ...
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How To Slow Time

How To Slow Time

Three simple ways to slow time and experience the meaning, magic, and beauty of life: heighten your senses; focus on ...
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The Importance Of Daily Practice

The Importance Of Daily Practice

The Importance Of Daily Practice. The fruits of mindfulness practice are well worth the hard work & disciplined effort that ...
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Self-Love Meditation

Self-Love Meditation

Self-Love Meditation. A powerful practice that can ease a racing mind. By drawing our attention to our innermost self, we ...
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Lesson from Nature

Depression & Anxiety (Binaural Beat)

Binaural Beat for Depression & Anxiety. Binaural beats are auditory illusion perceived by the brain when two different tones are ...
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Willingness to Question

Willingness to Question

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Willingness to Question, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your ...
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How Do We Relate to Time Itself?

How Do We Relate to Time Itself?

The theme of this meditation is exploring our relationship with time. Everything is born in seasons of time. Cultures are ...
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What Would They Think

“What Would They Think?”

Mastering the Third perspective helps you balance out the feelings towards others in certain situations without interference with all your ...
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Guided Meditation for Self-Acceptance

Guided Meditation For Self-Acceptance

This 10-minute guided meditation will help you increase self-acceptance. Successful mindfulness practice involves learning to accept the present as it ...
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Body Scan Intermediate

Body Scan, Intermediate

Body Scan Intermediate is a great practice for releasing stress. It guides readers and listeners through this type of mindfulness ...
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Remembering Motivation

Right Livelihood & Redemption

Jack Kornfield talks about the mystery of human life and the topic of redemption in relation to having the right ...
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Settle the heart

Settle the Heart First

Gil Fronsdal talks about Settle the Heart First. Rest in the calm of peace first and settle the heart before ...
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Identifying Personal Values

Identifying Personal Values

Can you identify your core values? Are you living your life in accordance with them? This mindfulness exercise will help ...
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Mindful Meditation Techniques & Individual Experience

Mindful Meditation Techniques, & Individual Experience

There're a million different potentials pertaining to developing mindful meditation techniques, so finding a routine solely relies on individual preference ...
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creating complexity

Creating Complexity

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Creating Complexity, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your belly, ...
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Letting go

Letting Go

Learning to let go is a part of the journey towards peace. This mindfulness exercise on letting go will help ...
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Mind Your Steps

Mind Your Steps

Mind your steps walking meditation is a unique guided meditation script that brings awareness to a body in motion, just ...
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What Are You Avoiding

What Are You Avoiding

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Avoidance, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your belly, chest, ...
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Why We're All So Anxious

Why We’re All So Anxious

Most of us are anxious pretty much all the time due to a variety of reasons. The single most important ...
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Mindfulness For Sleep & Relaxation

The Necessity of a Good Night’s Sleep

The quality of our sleep creates a ripple effect that rises with dawn and impacts the day ahead of us. When we have not been able to fall asleep, or have risen in the middle of the night with racing thoughts, it is impossible for us to have gotten the rest we need – both physically and mentally. The experience of insomnia, or of poor sleep quality in general, is rising, with modern day stressors captivating our minds into hours that are traditionally reserved for rest and rejuvenation. Even when the lights go off, it is hard to find that deep sense of peace and release that carries us into a restful slumber.

Reaching a state of deep sleep is crucial for our overall sense of wellbeing. Sleep & relaxation offers us the chance to reset and restore our energy systems. Our physiology thrives when we have slept well as sleep impacts everything from hormones to emotions to energy levels. Research has shown that proper sleep can help us to regulate our emotions and reduces our tendency for reactivity.

A variety of factors can keep us up at night, or make it difficult for us to fall asleep. Insomnia or some lesser form of such an experience can be brought about by:

  • Anxiety, stress, and fear,
  • Repetitive thinking and ruminating,
  • Technology usage and light pollution,
  • Imbalanced hormones,
  • Dietary factors, such as caffeine, sugar, and alcohol,
  • Underlying medical conditions, and
  • Other personal, situational, and environmental factors.

Sleep issues are a daily concern for many; for others, the experience of sleepless nights crops up during periods of acute stress. Whether short-term or chronic, stress impacts our ability to let go, to surrender, and to ultimately reach a state of deep sleep. However, as we expand our own capacity for mindfulness, we find that the quality of our sleep improves alongside our practice.

How Mindfulness Helps to Improve Sleep

Mindfulness practice helps us to be exactly where we are. Of course we are always exactly where we are, but we often don’t recognize it. With distractions and stimulation ever-present in the modern world, the body may be in one place while the mind is in another. Mindfulness practice helps us to come back down to the present moment, offering us a chance to completely let go when we are within the initiatory stages of sleep.

There are numerous ways that mindfulness promotes sleep. It can help us to rest deeply by:

  • Quieting the mind, bringing repetitive thoughts to rest
  • Drawing awareness into the body and away from the past or future
  • Easing the physical body by relaxing the muscles
  • Reconnecting us to the needs and reality of the present moment
  • Slowing the breath and inducing the relaxation response
  • Creating a sense of connection, contentment, and safety

Mindfulness reconnects us to the breath, a necessity for easing the experience of stress and anxiety. When we struggle to fall asleep, stress is often a primary or contributing cause. When we are stressed or anxious, we often breathe quite shallowly, unconsciously restricting each inhalation from expanding into the entirety of the lungs. This shallow breathing engages our fight-or-flight response – the defensive side of our nervous system that is responsible for protecting us in moments of danger.

While the fight-or-flight response is a crucial survival mechanism in times of imminent threat, it is often stuck on overdrive due to an overactive mind. When the mind is in high gear, the body cannot differentiate between what threats are real and imminent and which ones are perceived and remote. If the mind signals that there is a reason to be afraid, the body reacts by secreting various hormones, such as cortisol, to help defend us against whatever we are facing.

Unless we are in a position to respond to whatever is causing us discomfort, this fight-or-flight mode and the cocktail of chemicals it secretes only fuels the state of inner fear and panic. We begin to breathe more shallowly, feeding into the belief that there is danger ahead.

Mindfulness increases our awareness of the breath, often guiding us to observe the rhythm and depth of the breath’s flow. As we become more aware of the body and its life force in this way, we often find that the breath naturally deepens. We can also consciously draw the breath into the belly if we notice that it is shallow. In either case, as the breath descends further into the body, the relaxation response is initiated.

Benefits of the relaxation response include:

  • Slower heart rate,
  • Lowered blood pressure,
  • Slow and steady breathing,
  • Muscular relaxation,
  • Emotional release,
  • Feelings of resilience, and
  • Increased blood flow throughout the body.

All of these benefits help to further promote a sense of relaxation within the body, carrying us further into a sense of ease, and eventually, to place of complete surrender.

Our ability to navigate stress also helps us to achieve a better night’s sleep by regulating our hormones. One of our main neuroendocrine systems is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, otherwise known as the HPA axis. When activated, this system sparks within us the experience of wakefulness, and research has found that stress-related insomnia activates the HPA axis. In this way, stress keeps us up at all hours – at times when what we need most is rest and release. As we learn to navigate the stressors that hover in either the background or foreground of the mind, we become better equipped to mitigate the physiological effects that stress has on the body by guiding the mind back to the present moment.

Mindfulness Techniques for Sleep

There are a variety of mindfulness techniques we can use to bring about a greater sense of peace and stillness as we prepare for sleep. Implement any of the following practices into your nighttime routine, guiding yourself through these techniques (or using online supports) to help bring about a calm and tranquil state that is conducive to sleep.

Before you begin, allow yourself to come to a comfortable lying down position, supporting yourself in any way that is needed. Ensure that the neck is aligned with the spine and that the shoulders are relaxed. Consciously release any constriction in the stomach, the chest, the jaw, and the muscles around the eyes. By mindfully letting go in this way, we set the stage for relaxation to effortlessly come over us.

Body Relaxation

Body scan meditations help to draw your energy away from the mind and into the body, grounding you in the present moment. It is a compassionate, heart-centered practice that facilitates the release of anxiety and rumination.

  • Begin by breathing into the heart space for a few breath cycles, setting the intention to embrace this practice with compassionate curiosity.
  • Once you have settled into the breath, draw your awareness to your feet, feeling into the physical, visceral sensations of this area of the body. Observe whatever is present without judgment, opening up to any physical sensations from a place of openness and compassion.
  • Slowly draw your awareness upwards throughout the body, noting any sensations that are present in each area that you pass. Hold your attention for a couple of breaths on each muscle group as you move. As you exhale, release any and all tightness, tension, or stress that you come across.
  • Compassionately observe each area of the body individually before holding your entire body in awareness. As you witness the entirety of your physical being, invite all muscles to relax, noticing the way the mind follows suit.
  • Continue to breathe mindfully, allowing your breath to anchor you in this practice until you fall asleep. 

Grounding Practice

When we ground ourselves into the present moment by exploring our connectedness to the physical space we are in, we begin to let go of rampant thought waves attached to the past or future. We gain a greater understanding for what it means to be “right here, right now.” By following this grounding practice, we begin to feel a greater sense of contentment, connection, and safety.

  • Begin by connecting with your breath, noticing the subtle sensations of each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the depth and rhythm of your breath, observing its nature with non-judgmental awareness.
  • Expand your field of awareness by tuning into the physical sensations of the body as it rests. Notice the way that the textures around you feel against your skin. Observe the way you are supported unconditionally by the physical world in this very moment.
  • Feel the body become heavier as you relax more completely, sinking further into the physical space that supports you. Continue to observe the stillness and the simplicity of this moment. In this very moment, your pure existence is in total harmony with the rest of the world.
  • Continue to breathe slowly and steadily, allowing your breath to anchor you in this present moment. Remain within the body, guiding the mind back into the present moment anytime it arises. 

Deep Breathing

Since deep breathing activates the relaxation response, it is an effective tool for setting the stage for a deep and restorative sleep. Allow your breath to be your primary focus throughout this practice.

  • Begin simply by observing the natural rhythm of your breath. Notice the way it feels as it enters the body, and then observe any sensations present on exhalation. Invite the rest of the body to be entirely still, allowing only the breath to move you.
  • Draw your awareness to the stomach now. Since the breath has a tendency to follow one’s attention, you might observe the way it naturally begins to deepen. Continue to follow its flow, moving alongside both inhalation and exhalation.
  • Allow the belly to rise and fall as you breathe. Continue breathing into the full capacity of the lungs, perhaps noticing the way the mind quiets as you become more highly attuned with the present moment.
  • Liken your breath to soft waves, allowing it to ebb and flow inwards and out until finally you come to a state of deep release – that is, until you finally drift into a deep and transformative sleep.

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