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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

20 of the Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia

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20 of the Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia

Do you have trouble sleeping at night, or suffer from insomnia? According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30 to 40 percent of adults have difficulty sleeping, and 10 to 15 percent suffer from chronic insomnia.[1] This is where a guided meditation for sleep can help.

You know what it feels like to not get enough good sleep. The next day you feel lethargic, have trouble focusing, and lack motivation. But, did you know that insomnia can have more serious health consequences?

Chronic insomnia can put you at greater risk of various medical conditions, such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a weak immune system that can leave you vulnerable to diseases. It puts you at greater risk of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Insomnia can affect your memory, judgment, focus, and sex drive, and it can even shorten your life expectancy.[2]

The good news is that in most cases, there are some simple solutions. In this article, we’re going to focus on guided meditations for sleep. I’ve reviewed several meditations available on YouTube and provided you with my top 20 picks.

Before I give you the list, I think it’s a good idea to give you a better understanding of the nature of insomnia. This will give you a better idea of which guided meditations for sleep will work best for you.

Causes of Insomnia

There are various causes of insomnia. They can be either a medical condition, psychological problems, stress and anxiety, or simply lifestyle.

Medical conditions can include allergies, stomach and intestinal problems, chronic pain, lower back pain, breathing problems, and more. If you have one of these problems, or suspect another medical condition may be keeping you awake, I suggest consulting with your physician.

Psychological problems, mainly depression, are common causes of insomnia. Depression leads to changes in mood, which can affect hormone balance, and therefore, lead to difficulty sleeping. Studies have also shown that insomnia can make depression worse.

Stress and anxiety are also common causes of insomnia. We often ruminate about the past and worry about the future. Sometimes, we may feel stressed out and overwhelmed by our responsibilities. And sometimes, it is just our overstimulated mind that is keeping us awake.

For some people, lifestyle can be a cause of insomnia. Some people work odd hours that make it difficult to keep a normal sleep pattern, or get enough sleep. Sometimes, they don’t have enough time to unwind before they go to bed.

Food and diet can also affect your sleep. A heavy meal or empty stomach can make it difficult to sleep. It’s a good idea to have a light snack before bed, something that is low in sugar, as too much sugar in your bloodstream can give you a feeling of anxiety.

Alcohol, while it can help you fall asleep, will actually disrupt your sleep later in the night. Too much caffeine, or drinking it too late, can also make it difficult to sleep. Nicotine is another substance that can disrupt your sleep.[3]

How Meditation Can Help

Although insomnia can have several causes, the good news is that meditation can help in various ways. The main way that meditation can help you sleep better is by reducing stress and anxiety.

The way it works is rather simple. Meditation helps calm your thoughts, and by calming your thoughts, you reduce the feelings associated with those thoughts.[4]

Meditation can calm just about any racing mind, but it would help to reduce some of the things that are overstimulating your mind, such as too many activities and excessive background noise. Basically, any sensory stimulation will create a chain of thoughts, and if your day is filled with activities and noise, then your mind is being overstimulated.

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For the most part, meditation is a break from sensory stimulation. While the guided meditations for sleep have music and a voice to guide you, the sounds are slow and soothing, which help slow your mind down.

Meditation is a powerful antidote for depression. Studies have shown that when done properly, it can be just as effective as antidepressant medication. If you suffer from depression and want to try meditation as an alternate treatment, be sure to consult with your doctor first.

Meditation can even help address some of the physical causes of insomnia. Studies have shown that meditation can ease physical pain, especially lower back pain.

20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep

Here are 20 guided meditations for sleep. They are divided into 4 categories:

  • Deep relaxation
  • Binaural beats
  • Hypnosis
  • Unguided meditation

It’s not clear which type of meditation is more effective than others at helping you sleep. While they’re all intended to help you sleep better, they have slightly different goals and mechanisms for aiding your sleep. Based on the explanations and descriptions below, you can choose the one(s) that suits you best.

The meditations vary in duration. Some are under an hour, while others are several hours long. Most have guiding words at the beginning, which eventually fade out, leaving you with soft, soothing music to help you drift off to sleep.

You can listen to them as long as you want as you lie down to sleep, or you can even play them while you sleep. This is more a matter of preference.

Deep Relaxation

As the term suggests, the deep relaxation meditations will help you calm your body and mind. They generally use a body scan to relax each body part, and the soothing voice and background music help calm your thoughts.

When listening to the meditations, keep in mind that relaxing the body and mind is a process. Don’t expect perfection. That is, it’s okay for your mind to wander off, or get distracted. Instead of forcing your body and mind to relax, just allow them to relax.

1. Floating Amongst the Stars by Jason Stephenson

Length: 1 hr. 2 min.

Jason Stephenson has some of the best quality meditations on YouTube. His voice is soothing, and he has the right choice of background music. His recordings have a good balance of music and voice volume. As the title suggests, this meditation gives you a sense of floating amongst the stars.

2. Blissful Deep Relaxation by The Honest Guys

Length: 18.5 min.

The Honest Guys also have good-quality recordings. In this meditation, the music is soft and slow-moving, with gentle waves in the background. This is a relatively short meditation you can comfortably listen to right before you go to bed.

3. Fall Asleep So Fast by Lauren Ostrowski Fenton

Length: 1 hr. 17 min.

Lauren Ostrowski Fenton has a soft and relaxing voice. The dreamscape music pitch is well balanced with her voice. Her guided meditation has good positive affirmations that help improve self-esteem.

4. The Happiness of Your Higher Consciousness by Kim Carmen Walsh

Length: 33 min.

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This recording by Kim Carmen Walsh is designed to help you recognize your own inner happiness. It then guides you into a deep and restorative practice for improved sleep.

5. Cultivate Self Love While You Sleep by Nicky Sutton

Length: 2 hrs

This is a great meditation by Nicky Sutton. The music alone is warm and loving. Combined with her soft voice, the self-love affirmations really touch your heart.

Meditations With Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are a technique that triggers a slow-down in brain activity to make you sleepy. Here’s how it works: Your brain creates brain waves from the pulses of electrical activity when the neurons interact with each other. Generally, higher frequencies of brainwaves are associated with higher levels of alertness, such as concentration. Lower frequencies are associated with lower levels of alertness, such as deep sleep.

Ingrained in the background music are two tones of slightly different frequencies, one in each ear. Your brain, instead of processing both tones, processes half of the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if you receive a 300-hertz tone in one ear, and a 280-hertz tone in the other ear, your brain will process a 10-hertz tone.

The two frequencies in the meditations are meant to slow down your brain activity for deep sleep. As you may have guessed, you need to listen to these meditations with headphones in order to get the desired effect.

Binaural beats have two more effects that benefit sleep: They raise sleep-promoting hormones, and they reduce pain that may be keeping you awake.[5]

6. Perfect Deep Sleep Talkdown by The Honest Guys

Length: 30 min.

This is another good guided meditation for sleep by The Honest Guys. As with most of their meditations, it is short compared to most other meditations on YouTube. The music is slow, and the voice is soothing and relaxing.

7. Guided Meditation for Sleep and Healing by Meditation Vacation

Length: 40 min.

The scene of this meditation is the beach at night with a bonfire. Along with the dreamscape music, you can hear the sounds of the waves and the crackling of an open fire. This meditation will promote healing while you sleep.

8. Deep Sleep Meditation with Affirmations by PowerThoughts Meditation Club

Length: 1 hr. 44 min.

Here is a meditation that boosts your self-esteem. It will help you overcome your fears, so you can develop greater inner strength. The music is calm, the voice soothing, and the affirmations powerful. After a while, the voice fades out and the music helps you drift into a deep sleep.

9. Deep Sleep Guided Meditation by PowerThoughts Meditation Club

Length: 1 hr.

This is a guided meditation that will help you calm your racing mind. The slow, soothing voice forces your mind to follow the slower pace. As with the previous guided meditation, the voice fades away after a few minutes.

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10. Guided Meditation for a Deep Peaceful and Calm Sleep by Meditation Vacation

Length: 47 min.

This sleep meditation uses guided imagery to help calm your body and restless mind. The background music is slow and drifting.

Meditations With Hypnosis

Guided meditations with hypnosis are an effective way to reprogram your subconscious mind for a desired way of thinking or behaving. When we’re in a deep state of relaxation, our mind is more receptive to new information, so during meditation, it is an excellent time to assimilate positive affirmations that can improve the quality of your life.

These meditations will mainly help change your views about sleep. One is geared to facilitate healing, and another will help you deal with stress and anxiety.

11. Deep Sleep Hypnosis for Mind Body Spirit Cleansing by Michael Sealey

Length: 1 hr. 30 min.

Michael Sealey is one of the more popular guided meditation artists on YouTube, and for good reason. The recordings are high quality and use a good balance of the different elements to achieve the desired effect. This guided meditation uses soft music and guided imagery to promote inner healing while you sleep.

12. Sleep Talkdown Guided Meditation by Jason Stephenson

Length: 1 hr. 2 min.

Here is another guided meditation by Jason Stephenson. This one uses hypnosis techniques to promote deep sleep. The music is soft, slow, and heartwarming. Since the voice fades out after a while, you can just start this meditation and let it play as you drift off to sleep.

13. Guided Sleep Meditation by Jason Stephenson

Length: 50 min.

This guided sleep meditation will help you reprogram your mind to release stress and anxiety. It uses guided imagery and soft, relaxing music to calm your body and mind for more restful sleep.

14. Sleep Hypnosis Meditation Female Voice by Soothing Music Relaxing

Length: 3 hrs.

Though not as popular as most other guided meditations, this one uses a female voice and hypnosis techniques to guide you into a deep sleep. Her voice is soft and soothing, and the music is a slow dreamscape that gives you a feeling of floating on air.

15. Hypnosis with Subconscious Programming To Fall Asleep by Nicky Sutton

Length: 1 hr. 16 min.

Here is another good meditation by Nicky Sutton. The first 18 minutes help you relax your body. Afterwards, the affirmations help reprogram your mind to go into a deep sleep.

Unguided Relaxation Meditations

Although this list of meditations is mainly of guided meditations for sleep, there are some excellent recordings of either just soothing music, sounds of nature, or a combination. Some nature sounds, such as ocean waves, are symbolic of relaxation. When we hear those sounds, our subconscious mind will associate them with relaxation and sleep.

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These are the type that you may just want to play softly in the background while you go to sleep.

16. Aura Cleansing & Balancing Chakra by Meditation and Healing

Length: 8 hrs.

This video plays heartwarming dreamscape music that will help you drift off to sleep any day of the week.

17. Dreamscape Music for Relaxation and Sleep by Peaceful Productions Studio

Length: 8 hrs.

This is another recording of soft, dreamscape music. This one uses Delta waves, the same frequency of brainwaves you experience during deep sleep.

18. Deep Sleep Music: Ocean Waves and Relaxing Music by Soothing Relaxation

Length: 3 hrs.

This meditation combines relaxing music with ocean waves to lull you into a deep, restful sleep.

19. Gentle Night Rain Sounds for Relaxing Sleep by The Relaxed Guy

Length: 3 hrs.

Some people like the sound of rain to help them relax. This recording is nothing but gentle rain.

20. Angelic Music with Affirmations for Sleeping & Healing by Jason Stephenson

Length: 2 hrs.

This guided sleep meditation is almost entirely heartwarming music with intermittent affirmations in a soft, angelic voice.

The Bottom Line

If you have trouble sleeping at night, let not your heart be troubled. These guided meditations for sleep will help you slow your racing mind and make sleep much easier. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything but just listen to them and relax.

Your sleep is important, not just so you feel better the next day, but also for your long-term health and success in life. Enjoy these meditations, and enjoy your life.

More Tips About Meditation Practice

Featured photo credit: Ben Blennerhassett via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medical News Today: Insomnia: Everything you need to know
[2] Healthline: Effects of Insomnia On the Body
[3] Sleep Foundation: What Causes Insomnia?
[4] Very Well Mind: Getting Started With Guided Sleep Meditation
[5] Psychology Today: How Can Binaural Beats Help You Sleep Better?

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

How to Start Living in the Moment and Stop Worrying 20 of the Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia How to Learn to Let Go of What You Can’t Control How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better 10 Ways a Silent Retreat Improves Your Mental Health

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Last Updated on January 18, 2022

How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

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How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

Does your digestive system seem off lately? Or has it been like that for a while? Have you been experiencing feelings of stress or burnout? If the answer to both these questions is yes, it could be the stress that’s driving your digestive system out of whack. You might also be wondering how you can improve your digestion.

Studies show that your stress levels can wreak havoc on both your mind and body.[1] One of the biggest ways that stress can impair your body’s condition is by disrupting the performance of your digestive system, resulting in a variety of adverse health consequences.

How Stress Affects Digestion

Some of the most common digestive issues caused by stress include heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, diarrhea, and indigestion. Stress can also indirectly trigger the development of irritable bowel syndrome by affecting your immune system.

Researchers have also shown that individuals already suffering from IBS tend to have frequent flare-ups of systems when they are under considerable stress.[2] Conditions such as IBS and other gastrointestinal tract diseases are considered stress-sensitive disorders. Effective treatment usually entails the patient learning to cope with and manage their stress levels.[3]

A scientific review also discovered that there could be a strong correlation between high levels of stress and eating disorders, such as overeating and obesity.[4] When an individual is experiencing stress, their adrenal glands release cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This hormone is known to increase appetite, leading to overeating and other related eating disorders. People with high cortisol levels are more likely to consume foods with high fat and/or sugar content, resulting in more digestive issues and weight gain.

Effectively reducing your stress levels can help reduce inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and lower the sensitivity of your gut. Moreover, lower stress levels contribute to easing any gastrointestinal distress you may be experiencing, while at the same time optimizing nutritional uptake.

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If you find that your stress levels are high affecting your digestion, here are some tips that can help heal your gut.

1. Increase Your Level of Physical Activity

One way to boost your digestion and, at the same time, lower your stress levels is by engaging in moderate physical activity regularly. Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the different parts of your digestive system, which makes it easier for food to move along the digestive tract while improving the efficiency of the digestive muscles.

This movement of food along the digestive tract is known as peristalsis. Common signs that your peristalsis is not working optimally include constant constipation and diarrhea, and in some extreme situations, motility disorder.

Movement and exercise are also important in triggering the release of endorphins, which help relieve tension and are considered natural pain relievers. Endorphins are also quite effective at boosting one’s sleep quality, which is essential in combatting high levels of stress.

Physical activities that are known to improve digestion include regular running, walking, and biking. Yoga poses that focus on improving posture and alignment are also helpful in easing and eradicating gastrointestinal distress and act as a potent stress reliever.

2. Consider Foods That Are Natural Stress Relievers

Scientists have also discovered that some foods naturally contain mood-boosting properties. Consuming such foods can help relieve your stress symptoms while still providing your body with critical nutrients for optimal health.

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Almonds, for instance, contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that has been proven to help manage cortisol levels in the body. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin B, which, together with magnesium, help in increasing the production of serotonin, a powerful mood stabilizer and feel-good hormone.

Moreover, low levels of serotonin in the body have been linked to the development of irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, and duodenal ulcers, as well as episodes of bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.[5]

Dark chocolate is another type of snack that can help boost your digestion and bring down your stress levels. It is considered a highly efficient mood booster, but it also has a direct impact on your body’s digestive system. For starters, dark chocolate has a high concentration of flavonoids, a major antioxidant agent.

This chocolate also has high fiber content, mainly because of the cocoa used in production. When the gut bacteria ferment the antioxidants and fiber contained in the dark chocolate, anti-inflammatory compounds are released.[6] These compounds are not only essential in fighting inflammation within your digestive system, but they also play a crucial role in improving cardiovascular function and combatting inflammation-related disorders throughout your body.

Cocoa has also been shown to trigger the production of more healthy microbes in the colon, a further boost to your digestive system. It is also highly recommended to eat foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics. These compounds are critical in the production of good gut bacteria.

The abundance of good bacteria in the gut is essential for proper digestion of food and controlling inflammation within your digestive system and other parts of the body. Examples of foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, and natto.[7] Fruits and vegetables rich in prebiotics include the likes of onions, asparagus, garlic, and bananas. Consider making these gut-boosting foods part of your regular diet for enhanced digestive performance.

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3. Try Probiotic Supplements

Probiotics can also help improve your digestion. If you find that you don’t like probiotic foods or find them difficult to obtain, try a probiotic supplement instead. Research has shown probiotics to have remarkable effects on digestion, stress levels, immunity, and much more.[8]

Look for a probiotic that uses time-release tablets as these are more likely to deliver the probiotic bacteria safely past your stomach acid. Most probiotics in capsules are damaged or destroyed before they reach your intestines.

4. Avoid Foods That Can Impair Digestion

Just as there are good foods that can help improve digestion and simultaneously provide stress relief, there are foods that can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Remember, when you are experiencing high levels of stress, your appetite increases, and you are more inclined to consume foods with a lot of (added) sugar and fats. Both these things are known to increase inflammation in people’s digestive systems, resulting in a variety of GI issues like constant bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas.

Other major food culprits that can disrupt your digestive function include processed bread, white chocolate, coffee, and highly acidic foods.

5. Identify and Avoid Your Stress Triggers

An examination into what triggers your high-stress levels can help you identify these factors, and allow you to mitigate their impact on your physical and mental well-being.

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that helps you uncover the source of your negative thinking as well as the triggers that cause your stress levels to elevate. CBT has been shown to reduce stress in individuals with IBS. Consequently, these individuals suffered fewer IBS symptoms. This demonstrates the effectiveness of therapy in minimizing stress, which then directly boosts the digestive health of the individual.[9]

Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful techniques that can help you ease your stress levels. Studies have also shown that these practices can also help ease inflammation across the body, including along your gastrointestinal tract. Meditating as well as doing some breathing exercises before eating can help relax you, which in turn allows your digestive system to function optimally.

6. Quit Smoking and Excessive Consumption of Alcohol

Our stress coping techniques can also significantly impair our digestive function. If you are using cigarettes and/or alcohol to cope with your stress, you are inadvertently introducing a host of dangerous chemicals that will affect your digestive health.

Smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to a variety of GI diseases including heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, liver diseases, and Crohn’s disease.[10] It’s imperative that you look for healthier stress coping mechanisms, such as meditation and exercise to avoid exposing your digestive system to dangerous compounds.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how to improve your digestion, the first thing you should know is that your stress levels actively impact how well your digestive system functions. Addressing your stress triggers, through exercise, therapy, and physical activity will help bring down your stress levels and allow your body’s digestive system to function optimally.

Moreover, consume foods that are good for your digestion, including foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B, serotonin, fiber, and antioxidants. Lastly, avoid stress coping mechanisms that put your digestive system in jeopardy, like smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol.

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More Tips on How to Improve Digestion

Featured photo credit: Eugene Chystiakov via unsplash.com

Reference

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