Lack of sleep often goes hand in hand with anxiety. If left unattended for a long time, this can lead to several health problems alongside higher risks for diseases.
Anxiety can also interfere with your daily life, disrupting your focus on work, school, and other activities.
On the other hand, lack of sleep introduces adverse effects on your body if it happens often enough.
Fortunately, with sleep meditation, you can alleviate stress and anxiety, allowing you to relax and sleep better at night.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of uneasiness, like fear or worry, that may be categorized as mild or severe. In fact, all of us have felt anxiety at some point in our lives.
For example, you may be anxious when having a job interview or presenting a critical report at work. These types of anxiety are considered normal.
However, some people have difficulty controlling their thoughts. Their feelings of worry and fear are constant, and this affects their daily routine. There are many psychological disorders in which anxiety is a symptom, some of which are panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Another is generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, a long-term psychological disorder that causes people to suffer from anxiety most of the time.
Their anxiety is constant and applies to many situations. People with this condition feel anxious almost every day. In fact, even after their anxious thoughts have subsided or been resolved, another anxious thought will just arise.
The Effects of Anxiety
There are also many physiological effects of anxiety, with panic attacks and palpitations as good examples. People suffering from anxiety also experience headaches and a feeling of fatigue. They may have trouble breathing and tend to suffer from loss of appetite. Some even suffer from reduced libido which can ultimately affect their relationships.
Effects of Lack of Sleep
When you lack sleep, your brain lacks the energy needed for the day. This can drain your mental ability, giving you trouble with thinking and concentrating.
This can affect how you perform at work or school. You’ll also have trouble remembering things as it also interferes with your memory. This means that some information may not come to you during the day, or you may forget certain essential things.
Your immune system will drop as well, making you more susceptible to various diseases and illnesses – and you also increase your risk of injury and accidents.
Since you lack focus, your attention to your surroundings lessens, and you become more prone to accidents. This is especially true when driving. Not only do you risk your safety, but you also run the risk of hurting others.
Sleep deprivation also has some connection to mood changes. You become more irritable and easily annoyed. Your mood changes more often which can eventually lead to stress.
Another long-term effect of sleep deprivation includes a higher risk of getting diabetes. This is because when you don’t have enough sleep, your body’s ability to release insulin is affected.
In case you’re wondering, insulin is a hormone that controls the sugar levels in your blood. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep regularly have a higher chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes due to imbalanced insulin production. Research also says that those who lack sleep have an increased chance of developing heart diseases.
Sleep deprivation has been proven to increase blood pressure and chemical levels that can lead to inflammation. These two effects play roles in heart diseases.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that goes way back thousands of years. It was done initially to understand the mystical forces and the sacred aspects of life. In today’s society, meditation is done to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Simply put, meditation is a way to practice the body and mind to increase one’s awareness, focus on breathing, find inner peace, improve concentration, and gain a positive emotional outlook.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation makes you conscious and aware of yourself in the present moment. It introduces you to things about yourself that you may often overlook due to your busy schedule.
With time and proper practice, you should be able to observe and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings devoid of judgment. Several benefits of meditation can come just by spending a few minutes meditating every day.
Meditation has also been proven to be effective against stress. If you are experiencing anxiety, reducing your stress levels can significantly help alleviate your anxiety. Meditation can also help you sleep better and longer.
One key advantage of a guided meditation is that the guide or the narrator helps you focus during the meditation. It can help walk you through the steps, ensuring that you go at the right pace and do the exercise properly.
The instructor will also teach you how to apply what you’ve learned in meditation to your daily life. If you have difficulty focusing or your mind tends to wander off during the exercise, a guide will be of great help to you.
Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Anxiety
There are hundreds of guided meditations for sleep out there on the popular video-sharingplatforms, but not all of them are effective.
However, the following guided sleep meditations should have you drifting off in a matter of minutes, so be warned!
1. Tara Brach
The guided meditation of Tara Brach not only teaches you meditation and how to draw out its benefits, but it’s also a more profound practice that feels like you are getting therapy. Tara Brach has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, so it greatly helps those who are suffering from anxiety.
The meditation that Tara Brach offers is peaceful, albeit cathartic. It is a type of meditation that teaches you that self-compassion can greatly alleviate emotional suffering.
Tara Brach’s meditation is divided into four categories. These are Basic Meditation, Open Awareness, Heart Meditation, and Special Meditations or Reflections. She also has pre-recorded meditation sessions.
These include the Relaxing Back into Awareness meditation, Touching Peace meditation, A Calm Refuge meditation, Embracing life with an Open Heart meditation, and many more.
Some of her meditations feature guidance with a few pauses of silence in between. Other meditation types include background sounds such as gentle rain falling or chirping birds. On average, Tara Brach’s meditation sessions range from 10 minutes up to 40 minutes.
The good thing about Tara Brach’s meditation is that they are all free. However, Brach asks for a small number of donations so that her meditations will be available to many.
Meditation can be tough, challenging, and intimidating for first-timers. It’s easy to lose focus and fumble around, especially if you have no idea what to do. It’s no doubt useful, but you may not experience the full benefits or not gain any advantage at all when you are doing it wrong.
The good news is that Andy Puddicombe, one of the co-founders of Headspace, will walk you through the entire process. This will ensure that you are doing the right thing and getting the most out of the meditations.
Headspace is very good for beginners. The guides are very patient, and you will learn to do all of the basics. You will be taught how to breathe correctly, how to breathe through the nose, and then how to exhale through the mouth.
The guide will walk you through what sensations you should feel throughout your body and the things you should notice about your breathing.
You will also learn how to find the exact location in your body where you will feel the air and your breathing rhythm, whether it is short, shallow, long, or deep.
Headspace gives you helpful tips when external sounds are present. It is quite surprising what you can hear when you have learned to quiet your body and mind. This is a perfect reminder of the progress you’ve made every time you practice. They have various meditation selections to cater to your needs. You can also choose a meditation that suits your timeframe.
There are short and long meditation sessions, so you can select whichever fits your availability.
Compared to Tara Brach, Headspace is not free. They do offer a free trial that lasts for two weeks. You can subscribe for one year at 70 dollars and only 13 dollars for a monthly subscription.
3. The Honest Guys
There have been many reviews and feedback that say Rick Clarke’s voice is perfect for a guide because it is not distracting. He starts the sessions by breathing in deeply and then continues by pointing out that thoughts of stress, anxiety, and negative emotions are common and expected.
Rick Clarke’s meditation is unique. He asks you to pace your breathing with the sound of the waves. This makes it very calming and natural.
What’s even better is that this breathing technique can be applied in life when you experience an anxiety attack or a panic attack. For those who are very anxious, learning this breathing technique can be quite beneficial. While listening to the sound of the waves, your mind starts to quieten down.
The trick to this kind of meditation is to completely surrender yourself to the surroundings. When you are in total peace with your surroundings, you will feel more and more relaxed. Rick Clarke then counts down from 5 until 0.
Each time he counts down, you will be relaxed deeper and deeper. When the meditation reaches the 8-minute mark, you will hear the sound of chimes, and Rick Clarke will then stop talking. The addition of the chiming sounds helps you focus on your breath while your body calms down.
After some time, the chimes will fade out. Then you will have the option to either drift off to sleep, continue meditating, or stand up and continue your daily activities.
This meditation and other things offered by Rick Clarke are all free and can be availed of on YouTube.
4. Gabby Bernstein
Over the past few years, meditation while walking has gained popularity since more and more people find ways to meditate so they can relax their minds all while on the go or exercising.
For those who are new to the idea of walking meditation, Gabby Bernstein has a short intro on that which is a perfect place to start. The recording spans six minutes. In the recording, you will be focusing on each step and how it all connects to your breathing.
Unlike all the other voices of meditation guides wherein their voice is calming and relaxing, Gabby Bernstein’s voice is upbeat. This is helpful because the meditation happens while you are walking and not when you are trying to drift off to sleep.
This meditation’s general goal is to help you learn how to connect your body and your mind. After a few minutes of breathing, Gabby asks her listeners to repeat a short mantra while walking. The mantra is, “My happiness is a choice I make.”
Whether it is Gabby’s voice or the upbeat music in the background, this guided meditation will encourage you to take action as it helps you relax, relieves your stress, and helps you focus on your breathing.
Try listening to this meditation the next time you decide to go on a walk. You will be surprised at how this meditation changes your perspective on walking and exercising in general.
5. Jason Stephenson
A lot of us struggle to go to sleep at night. This may be because our minds are very active or particular worries in the day keep us up at night. Regardless, a good night’s sleep is essential to function optimally the next day.
Luckily, this guided meditation by Jason Stephenson can help you drift off to sleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
Of course, these meditations are best done in a place wherein you can go directly to sleep, such as your bed. The meditation starts with you taking note of all the tension in your body. With your breathing, emotional stress and tension will be freed from your body.
After that, Jason will guide you through the energy centers of your body or the seven chakras. His voice, along with a gentle piano accompaniment, will help free you of stress while slowly drifting to sleep. All of his meditations are free and are available on YouTube.
Alternative Breathing Exercises
Guided sleep meditations can be extremely effective if performed correctly and on a regular basis.
Though for those times when you want to fly solo, there is an excellent alternative.
Breathing exercises can help promote deep relaxation which will calm the body and soothe the mind. What’s more, there is no spiritual connection to breathing or any onus to think about anything in particular or listen to anyone speaking, all you have to do is focus on what you are doing.
If you suffer from stress and anxiety, then there’s no doubt that the right breathing techniques could help move you towards a sense of peace and calm instead.
Unlike guided meditations, with breathing exercises you will be able to tailor them exactly to your preferences.
Some will prefer to have soothing sounds playing in the background like a woodland ambiance or birdsong, while others will enjoy sitting in complete silence with only the sound of their inhalations and exhalations.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, here are some of the best breathing exercises you can try:
For an especially deep sleep, we highly recommend the belly breathing technique.
Otherwise known as abdominal breathing, this technique requires you to focus on breathing into your stomach.
While that might sound hard to do, bear with us, it’s actually not that tricky.
All you have to do is first realize that when you normally breathe it’s your chest that rises and falls in tandem with your inhalations and exhalations.
To perform belly breathing, you need to shift your focus from the chest to the stomach.
To do so, lie down and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Try to push your belly out as you inhale, and gradually you’ll notice that your breathing starts to shift.
If you want a meditation practice that’ll have you floating amongst the stars in no time, you have to try the body scan.
What is the body scan?
The body scan is a breathing technique in which you close your eyes (preferably while lying inbed) and scan the various parts of your body starting from your feet.
Some people like to imagine color as they do this, others don’t.
The important thing is that you focus on the sensations you feel in each body part, from the feet up to the face and everything in between.
A popular breathing technique for sleep, 4-7-8 is a sleeping meditation that’ll have you dozing off quickly.
The numbers represent the amount of time you need to spend at each stage of the breath in seconds.
You start with a 4-second inhalation through the nose, then hold your breath for 7 seconds, before finally – you guessed it – exhaling for 8 seconds.
A Final Word From Wellness Nova
Meditation can be an excellent way to relax and calm your mind, allowing you to have a more restful sleep at night. It can also alleviate symptoms of anxiety, which can be challenging to manage, especially if experienced often.
With that said, these five guided meditations are perfect for those suffering from sleep deprivation and anxiety. Which one do you think will work for you?