Anxiety is a mental health disorder that causes excessive worry or fear over daily events and situations. Over 19% of adults and 7% of children in the U.S. alone suffer from it. Anxiety can come with both mental and physical symptoms. Some physical symptoms of anxiety include tension, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fatigue, and lightheadedness.
While people with anxiety may focus on physical symptoms, it can cause many other health-related issues, like sleep problems. Many people with anxiety also have insomnia or some form of sleep deprivation. With anxiety, worries can keep you up at night due to the inability of the mind to relax.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to help solve the sleep problems your anxiety may be causing.
What is sleep meditation?
Guided meditation has been known for its relaxing and calming benefits. While meditation in history has traditionally been used as a religious technique, different forms have been introduced over the years. Today, guided meditation can be used to:
- Improve health and overall well-being
- Provide a sense of peace
- Cope with stressful situations
- Enhance self-awareness
- Improve emotional health
Sleep meditation, or guided sleep meditation, is a technique used to prepare people for rest. Some people have difficulty falling or staying asleep because they cannot put their minds at ease. During meditation, you focus on your breathing and the present moment. Doing this helps shift your focus from things that occurred during the day or the worries of tomorrow.
Adding it to your sleep routine:
Sleep meditation can be a great addition to your daily sleep routine. Your sleep routine is the things you do to prepare your body for proper rest. Adding guided meditation before bed can improve your sleep quality and the amount of sleep you get.
A basic sleep routine may include light stretching, calming sounds, tea, and meditation.
Does sleep meditation help anxiety?
There are many triggers for anxiety, including trauma from past experiences, personality, environment, genetics, etc. Stress is one of the leading causes of sleep loss due to anxiety. After a stressful day, you may have a night of tossing and turning. It’s not always easy to fall asleep when your mind runs at full speed.
The research on sleep meditation and how it affects anxiety and stress is still ongoing. However, one possible explanation could be that meditation reduces pain-related activity in the thalamus. Sleep meditation acts on the negative thoughts and emotions that may be causing anxiety or stress.
When meditating, your focus is on breathing, physical sensations in the body, and remaining in the moment. It’s essential to clear the mind of outside thoughts and do away with any distractions.
How it works:
You activate your parasympathetic nervous system when your body begins to relax through meditation. This part of your nervous system is responsible for helping you loosen up. Many of these hormones are produced and released during meditation:
Guided sleep meditation is known to increase melatonin production—the sleepy hormone because it helps regulate your body’s sleep. During meditation, the brain sends more melatonin to the blood to help you rest. One study showed that people who regularly meditated received more deep sleep than those who didn’t.
These same individuals are also more likely to have higher quality REM sleep. REM sleep, also known as rapid eye movement, is the part of sleep that plays a vital role in healthy brain development, memory, and dreaming. This stage of sleep happens in intervals of 10 minutes throughout the night. The final cycle of REM sleep can last for up to an hour.
Serotonin, also known as the happy neurotransmitter. Serotonin is responsible for sending signals from one part of the brain to another. This neurotransmitter has a significant influence on your mood and state of well-being.
Stress can slow down the production of brain cells. This slowed process can lead to depression and anxiety. Activities like mindfulness can help increase brain cell production by replenishing the neurons.
Unlike melatonin and serotonin, cortisol is a hormone in which less production is better. Cortisol is the aging hormone that the body produces when stressed. Chronic stress can negatively affect your body and the way it functions. The effects include, but are not limited to:
- Destroys healthy bone and muscle
- Halts production of good hormones like serotonin and melatonin
- High blood pressure
- Brain fog
A study done by a Rutgers University doctor showed that practicing mindfulness meditation reduced cortisol levels by nearly 50%.
Best Guided Sleep Meditations
It may be difficult to get a feel for how you should meditate if you are new to the practice. Until you get more comfortable doing it on your own, guided meditation is a great way to start your journey. With guided meditation, someone will take you through the entire session.
Finding a good guide can be time-consuming, but there are many ways to start meditating with the help of different sources. Meditation is available through many platforms; it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.
The BetterSleep app has a lot to offer when it comes to soothing sounds, information about relaxation, and meditation. There are different meditation types to choose from depending on what you want to achieve. Here are some of the most popular ones to help you start your meditation journey.
BetterSleep Meditations for Anxiety:
Grounding Meditation for Anxiety
This guided sleep meditation is also known as Tree Meditation. With this technique, you follow the guide to help regain focus when your thoughts wander. This practice is based on bringing you into the present moment and ridding your mind of the ideas that make you anxious.
You will start the meditation by finding a comfortable position that allows you to firmly plant your feet into the ground, like a chair. This helps you feel yourself being grounded. Some people may choose to sit cross-legged or lie down. After that, you engage in visualizations and calming techniques that help you become more grounded and focused.
You end the meditation with breathing. Just like the tree, you are taught how to choose what to react to and what to let go of. This helps with letting go of worries and negative emotions.
SOS De-Stress Meditation
At times, you may feel overwhelmed because of a particular event that occurred earlier in the day, you may be unprepared for something, and it’s making you anxious. This 9-minute meditation is great for situations like this. This meditation offers efficient guidance perfect for when you need to center yourself and regain calmness.Like every other meditation practice, you start by placing yourself in a comfortable position so that you can meditate the entire time. The guide will walk you through breathing exercises before beginning a series of mantras. Your thoughts are invited during this time, allowing them to come without waving them away. This allows you to learn how to take control of your mind and emotions.
This meditation focuses deeply on finding out how you feel about yourself and what you’re involved with.
61-Point Deep Flow Relaxation
One of the ways the body reacts to stress is muscle tension. This is the body’s way of protecting you against pain and injury. With ongoing stress, your muscles can remain contracted, causing more discomfort and physical pain.
This meditation is great for people who feel the physical effects of stress and anxiety. It can help relieve the body of stress and tension in every area before helping you get a restful sleep. This session is more time-consuming because you have to go through each area of your body—so be sure to leave 30 minutes before bed for this meditation.
As you go through each body part, from as small as fingers to as big as a leg, you will completely understand how each of them feels. At the end of the meditation, your body will be released and relaxed.
Gratitude for Stressful Times
Some causes of stress come from overthinking the problems you already have. Maybe you aren’t too fond of your current job and your negative thoughts towards it are increasing. With any negative thoughts that you allow your mind to keep, you increase the risk of stress, anxiety, and sleep problems that follow along.
This meditation helps fight negativity by building resilience against negative thoughts. In return, you’re able to handle stressful situations better. As the sense of gratitude fills you, you take less time focusing on things that cause stress and anxiety. You can look at situations from an understanding perspective instead of blaming other people.
The Mindful Breath
Mindfulness is a great meditation technique that helps people reduce the stress and anxiety that overthinking causes. Because you are focused on the present things, you have a more positive easygoing attitude.
This meditation uses a series of breathing techniques to bring you into the present moment and give you relief. It’s a quick 10-minute session that can be done whenever you need to relax your mind. You shift your awareness from your thoughts to your focal point and breaths.
Websites and apps:
Many apps and websites offer guided meditation services. Each place has its perks and benefits and some cons. When trying to choose the best, guided meditation, be sure to know the cost, subscription terms, what type of meditation they offer, etc.
Youtube has a lot of meditation videos you can watch before going to sleep.
Cons of Youtube Meditation
With free services like Youtube, you may have ad disruptions. Some meditation channels include ads in the middle of their videos. This can break your focus and make it hard for you to meditate. If you go with other options besides the ones above, choose one with a good meditation experience.
Using guided sleep meditations can help you avoid the loss of sleep from mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The BetterSleep app has many meditation practices to choose from that are perfect for you any time of the day. With time and consistency, guided meditation can help you overcome these problems so they no longer control your life.