I recently got into sleep meditation and was floored at how quickly I fell in love with it. If you have trouble quieting your mind when you get into bed, or always spend a while squirming around and trying to decompress — sleep meditation was made for you. Definitely give it a try.
I usually meditate with the Headspace app, but I also like lurking around meditation YouTube to see what classes are getting popular. That's how I came across Jason Stephenson, who has one of the biggest meditation channels on the site (2.43 million subscribers!). He specializes in sleep meditation and relaxation music, pairing them together in guided meditation videos that are known for being soothing and centering. Stephenson's 30-minute "Before Sleep" meditation for beginners has over 17 million views, and after skimming over all the positive comments, I was intrigued enough to give it a try.
You can do this meditation seated or lying down, so I chose to completely get ready for bed — pajamas on, covers pulled up, lights turned off — before hitting play. The video starts with a few minutes of breathing and tension release as Stephenson's soothing voice invites you to "relax and realign your body, mind, and spirit." To that end, the next part of the meditation uses your chakras as visual cues to find balance and shift towards relaxation.
I've never done chakra-based meditation before, but Stephenson guides you through it very gently. He explains the colors and the meanings behind each chakra, starting with the root chakra at the base of your tailbone and slowly working your way up to the crown chakra on top of your head. This type of close guidance makes this meditation a great choice for beginners who feel less comfortable with long periods of silence. (The music helps too.)
By the time I finished focusing on the final chakra, I felt centered, calm, and heavy, like I could sink right into my bed. On the first night I tried this meditation, I was awake to hear Stephenson's invitation to start drifting off: "breathe and know that you are complete," he says. The second night, I'd actually already started to fall asleep before we got there, which is as good a testament to the effectiveness of this sleep meditation as I can think of. As the meditation winds down, Stephenson's voice fades away and you simply enjoy the calming music in the background, which plays uninterrupted for the last nine or so minutes of the meditation.
This video was definitely different than sleep meditations I've done in the past, but Stephenson's guidance is uniquely comforting, especially in the beginning. "You have a magnificent power," he says, "a tremendous ability to heal yourself with only your imagination." The music alone felt restful and soothing, which is no surprise; in addition to guided meditations and affirmations, Stephenson also produces relaxing music, including hours-long videos of lulling sounds like rain and thunder. In this video, though, his calm, measured approach was what really grounded me and helped me drift off.
So, if you're thinking about trying meditation or just need help quieting your mind and body, hit play on this meditation and close your eyes. By the end, sleep will be just around the corner — or you'll already be snoozing.