3 Meditation Techniques to Increase Deep Sleep
Published March 1, 2023.
Research highlights poor sleep as a symptom of many health issues (1). Most people struggle with short-term insomnia, difficulty falling asleep occasionally, or poor sleep quality, and a significant cause may be stress (2). During deep sleep, our bodies engage in building and repairing tissue (including muscles and bones), which is an essential stage of sleep that can contribute to many health issues if interrupted or inadequate (3).
That being said, here are three meditation techniques that can help you increase your deep sleep.
» Read our guide to light sleep vs deep sleep
1. Guided Imagery
Guided imagery or meditation is when another person guides you through the practice. This type of meditation is common in sleep apps, podcasts, and videos, while some even make customised recordings tailored to your preferences.
Guided imagery often involves visualisation of your favourite places, calming scenery, or background sounds (like rain, birds, or whale songs). It can also involve breathing and relaxation instructions.
How to Do Guided Meditation
- To start, find a meditation that appeals to you—there are a variety of meditation apps like Headspace and Calm
- Make sure the person guiding the meditation has a voice you like and preferrably find soothing
- Clear a space, turn off notifications, and make yourself comfortable—lying down (even in bed) is best if you are using this for sleep
- Slow and deepen your breathing as you follow the practice
- Focus on the person's voice
- Your mind may wander, which is okay—simply return your attention to their voice as many times as needed
Guided meditation is great to do in bed before you sleep in order to help you fall asleep quicker and faster.
2. Body Scan Meditation
This is an easy meditation to do on your own; however, you can also find recordings where a practitioner guides you through the steps. The goal of this meditation is to raise your awareness of physical tension and pain and help destress, since you are more likely to improve your deep sleep if you are physically relaxed (5).
Try This Body Scan Meditation
- Create a quiet, distraction-free space: put away electronics, dim the lights, and ask others not to disturb you
- Lie down in a comfortable position
- Make sure you are well supported and will be comfortable for an extended period
- Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths
- Starting at the top of your head, systematically focus on and relax each muscle group
- Relax your jaw, eyes, and face
- Move to your neck and shoulders
- Move slowly and deliberately down your arms through to your fingers
- Relax your chest and stomach
- Release the tension from your back, hips, and bum
- Finally, move down your legs through to your feet
Expert Tips for Body Scan Meditation
- Sometimes, it helps to tense the muscle deliberately first and let the tension go.
- Your mind may wander. If it does, just bring your attention back to your body and pay attention to all the physical sensations.
- Once finished, repeat this scan from the opposite direction (so if you started at the head and worked to the feet, start at your feet and work to your head). Continue as needed until you feel ready for bed.
3. Mindfulness Meditation
For this meditation, the intent is to keep your focus on the present moment and all that is happening around you and in your mind, seeking to increase your awareness of your breathing, body, consciousness, and surroundings.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
- Clear a quiet distraction free space
- Set a timer for the desired amount (beginners can start with 5 minutes while more experienced meditators can go longer than 30)
- Lie down in a comfortable well supported position
- Inhale slowly, hold for a few seconds, relax, and exhale
- Notice your body
- If you find tight muscles, relax them deliberately
- Observe thoughts and feelings as they arise and let them move through with no judgement
- Bring your focus back to your breathing
- Continue until your timer finishes
Did you know? Meditation can increase the size of your hippocampus, leading to increased self-control and concentration along with decreased stress and improved sleep.
» Not sure if you're getting enough sleep? Make sure you know the signs of sleep deprivation
Experiment Until You Find What Suits You
Try all of these meditation techniques and see which ones suit you best. If you find it difficult to stay on track doing them on your own, you can use an app or get a personalised recording to use before sleep, as well as starting slow and building up the duration you spend meditating over time. Joining a class can help you to learn the meditations and increase your skill, as well.