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Can Meditation Help You Sleep?

I Meditated For 10 Minutes Every Night For a Week, and It Helped Me Fall Asleep Faster

Young woman waking up at her own bed alone, with a smile

Those close to me know I'm not the most relaxed person. I love being active and doing higher-energy things, so meditation and yoga have never really worked for me. I don't find sitting in silence or being still with my thoughts appealing, and I prefer HIIT and cardio with loud, pounding music over a yoga flow. Yet, I've heard so much about the benefits of mindfulness and other forms of meditation, including that they can reduce stress levels and quiet the mind and body. I figured it couldn't hurt to try to implement such a technique when I have energy to burn and need to power down fast.

I'm truly a night owl, and I usually eat dinner super late, like around 9 or 10 p.m. (I know, not great), so by the time I go to bed closer to midnight, I'm way too alert and energized to doze off. So, I embarked on this little experiment, in hopes that meditating for 10 minutes before bed would help me fall asleep and finally convince me of meditation's magical powers.

The first night did not go well. I tried focusing on my breath, bringing my attention back to it when my mind started to wander, but I couldn't get into it, and I actually felt a bit anxious. Instead of finding inner peace, I started thinking about what I had to do the next morning or if I had done enough work that day, and I hated the silence. I was bored and weirdly alert, so once I realized that I had stayed up longer than I planned, I took some melatonin (I know, I know) to help me fall asleep.

How I Turned a Corner

I was ready to quit after night one, but instead I decided to try something a little different. Meditating in silence clearly doesn't work for me, so I put on some light music. While I considered an app for guided meditation, I was afraid that would bore me; instead, I found relaxing spa music (So soothing, right?), and put it on a very low volume so it would fill that awkward stillness without distracting me from the meditation.

It was just enough to help me through it. I was able to concentrate on my breath, and while my mind still drifted at times — to an article that was due the next day or an idea I wanted to pitch — I simply reminded myself that this is normal for beginners. I embraced those thoughts, let them go, and went back to focusing on my breath, in and out to the rhythm of the music, for the duration of the 10 minutes. By the end, I was drowsy.

I did that for the rest of the week, and each time I got better at not letting my thoughts take over or getting bored. Of course, I'm still not perfect at meditating or even falling asleep, but I'm definitely more tired after practicing mindfulness than I am after watching an episode of Riverdale before bed. I plan to keep this habit up, as it really did help me fall asleep faster, and 10 minutes is nothing when measured against the benefits. I guess I'm sort of into meditation now.

Image Source: Getty / Milan_Jovic
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