• You are here:
  • Home »

Mindfulness Exercises For Sleep and Relaxation

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

Nature of Awareness

Trust

James Baraz talks about trust in relation to self-discovery. And how it relates to believing, and how it facilitates the ...
Read More
The Gift of Rest

The Gift of Rest

Discover mindfulness exercises ways to give the gift of rest to your body. Mindful meditation is also an excellent choice ...
Read More
Structuring an Improvement Conversation

Structuring an Improvement Conversation

Do you long for improvement in your work performance? Learn to improve your own self by properly structuring conversations in ...
Read More
Why Empathy Is Not the Best Way to Care

Why Empathy Is Not the Best Way to Care

Paul Bloom argues that compassion may be a better strategy to care than empathy because the latter can be weaponized ...
Read More
Free Guided Visualizations

Free Guided Visualizations

If you need help in practicing the techniques of mindfulness, download our free guided visualizations to help you get to ...
Read More
Free Mindfulness Retreats

Free Mindfulness Retreats

Mindfulness retreats are a unique experience. If you can't visit a meditation center, you can organize your own free mindfulness ...
Read More
Ruth Denison

Instructional Sit with Body Sweep [Audio]

Instructional Sit with Body Sweep, by Ruth Denison:About Ruth Denison:Ruth Denison studied in Burma in the early 1960s with the ...
Read More
karma and intention

Karma and the End of Karma

Guy talks about Karma and the End of Karma. Why is it important to teach Karma? It is the science ...
Read More
Raising Kind Kids

Raising Kind Kids

Parenting expert Christine Carter shares 3 quick tips on how parents can raise kind kids – a key to their ...
Read More
Lesson from Nature

Mental Clarity (Binaural Beat)

Binaural Beat for Mental Clarity. Binaural beats are auditory illusion perceived by the brain when two different tones are played ...
Read More
Robert Thurman: Love Your Enemy

Robert Thurman: Love Your Enemy

This clip features Professor Robert Thurman breaking down the idea of why one should love his or her enemy, and ...
Read More
Embodying Stillness

Embodying Stillness

A sample of guided meditation interspersed with silence and Eckhart Tolle’s insights into the essence of meditation practice: embodying stillness ...
Read More
The Power of Yoga to Heal

The Wounded Warrior: The Power of Yoga to Heal

Dan Nevins talks about how yoga is a really good practice that not only heals the body but also nourishes ...
Read More
Mindful Daydreaming Enhances Creativity

Mindful Daydreaming Enhances Creativity

How daydreaming is not necessarily a waste of time and can lead to improving focus, attention, and the quality of ...
Read More
Self Compassion vs Self-Esteem

Self Compassion vs. Self-Esteem

Self compassion is a way of relating to ourselves and gives us a sense of self worth, whereas self-esteem is ...
Read More
How To Be An Earthling

How To Be An Earthling

Wes Nisker talks about the topic How To Be An Earthling. Earthlings, what are we doing here? Wes explores our ...
Read More
Mindfulness for Kids Just Breathe

Mindfulness for Kids – “Just Breathe”

“Just Breathe” is a short film featuring elementary school students who use mindfulness and meditation to cope with a range ...
Read More
Norman-Fischer

The Trouble with my Car [Audio]

The Trouble With My Car, by Norman Fischer: About Norman Fischer:Norman is a Zen priest and abbot, a husband, father, ...
Read More
Mindfulness of Triggering Others

Mindfulness of Triggering Others

To begin this Mindfulness Exercise of Triggering Others, please bring kind awareness to- why you chose this topic- how your ...
Read More
Law Of Attraction Spoken Affirmations for Happiness & Living In The Moment

Affirmations for Happiness & Living In The Moment

These spoken affirmations for happiness over time can change your life! These affirmations can be heard aloud. Remember to put ...
Read More
How to Bring Wisdom and Compassion to the Business World [Video]

How to Bring Wisdom and Compassion to the Business World [Video]

In this video, Fred Kofman talks about how to bring wisdom and compassion to the business world. He hopes that ...
Read More
Body Scan A

Body Scan A

Body Scan A is part of the FitMind Meditation Program. It is designed to help you feel and bring awareness ...
Read More
The Importance Of Finding Quiet Time

The Importance Of Finding Quiet Time

Learn the importance of finding quiet time. Here are some simple mindfulness exercises that will help you appreciate the moments ...
Read More
Learn To Say Thank You

Learn To Say Thank You

An act of gratitude and saying thank you is a simple sign of respect. Find out in this video how ...
Read More
How to Incorporate Mindfulness at Work

How to Incorporate Mindfulness at Work

The work place is full of stressors. From deadlines to demanding bosses, it can be hard getting through the work ...
Read More
Do What Feels Right In Your Body

Do What Feels Right In Your Body

Qoya is based on the idea through movement, we remember. We remember our essence is wise, wild and free. Using ...
Read More
Nachiketa and the Lord of Death

Nachiketa and the Lord of Death

Jack Kornfield tells the story of Nachiketa who puts his ego before him unafraid to face the Lord of Death ...
Read More
Breath Focus D

Breath Focus D

Breath Focus D is part of the FitMind Meditation Program. “To master our breath is to be in control of ...
Read More
Purification Through Love

Purification Through Love

Spring Washam talks about Purification Through Love which is actually Metta, Loving-kindness. She explains how Loving-kindness purifies the soul, how ...
Read More
Sharon Salzberg Kindness is Great

Kindness is Great

We tend to see kindness as a sort of weakness but in reality, kindness is great. It’s great to feel ...
Read More
Tony-Bernhard

The Simplicity of Karma [Audio]

The Simplicity of Karma, by Tony Bernhard: About Tony Bernhard:Tony Bernhard first encountered the dharma in 1965 and became one ...
Read More
A Dialog with Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle

Ram Dass with Eckhart Tolle

Ram Dass and Eckhart Tolle get together for the 1st time on the same stage to talk about spiritual awakening ...
Read More
Wise Concentration

Wise Concentration

Marcia Rose talks about wise concentration. It's one of the 7 factors of awakening: mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration ...
Read More
Mindfulness of Sensations and Breath

Mindfulness of Sensations and Breath

Tara Brach takes you through The Art and Science of Meditation. Listen to the first session as it explores the ...
Read More
Concept Of Enlightenment

Concept Of Enlightenment

Eckhart Tolle shares his concept of enlightenment and how transformative it can be in your life once you open yourself ...
Read More
Visualizing Your Peaceful and Beautiful Place

Visualizing Your Peaceful and Beautiful Place

Visualizing Your Peaceful and Beautiful Place. This is a guided meditation script that takes you to your special peaceful & ...
Read More
Transforming Suffering nature

Transforming Suffering

Learn how to deal with life's circumstances that are challenging in Transforming Suffering. What are the things that are difficult ...
Read More
MoMy Life As A Monk

My Life As A Monk

Ajahn shares about his life as a monk. His first contact with meditation in the Buddhist practice, and how that ...
Read More
How to Check in with Yourself, Pamela Weiss

How to Check in with Yourself, Pamela Weiss

Appropriate Response founder Pamela Weiss walks you through a mindfulness check-in exercise from the award-winning Personal Excellence program ...
Read More
To care & not to care

To Care & Not to Care

Gil Fronsdal talks about To Care & Not To Care. In Buddhist practice, both are important. Don't measure yourself by ...
Read More
loving kindness meditation

Loving Kindness Meditation

This meditation is the loving-kindness meditation by Kristin Neff. It's meant to generate feelings of goodwill and kindness both for ...
Read More
The Power of Lovingkindness [Audio]

The Power of Lovingkindness [Audio]

In this audio, Guy Armstrong talks about the power of lovingkindness. He has been practicing Insight Meditation for over 30 ...
Read More
Visualizing Receiving Love And Care

Visualizing Receiving Love And Care

Visualizing Receiving Love and Care is a short but useful meditation script to help cultivate the capacity to accept love ...
Read More
mindfulness exercises

Nature: Babbling Brook

Nature Sounds: Babbling Brook. Tired and weary walking on a trail, you seek to rest on a babbling brook nearby ...
Read More
5 Steps Towards True Meditation, Guided Meditation Scripts for Teachers

5 Guided Meditation Scripts for Teachers

7 Mindfulness Exercises for Relaxation. Exploring a variety of mindfulness exercises for relaxation can help us to truly feel what ...
Read More

Mindfulness For Sleep and 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 and Relaxation

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.

Browse More Categories