7 Meditations For Insomnia To Focus On While You’re Trying To Sleep

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Insomnia is kind of like an uninvited house guest who takes up residence on your couch indefinitely. It overstays its welcome, and there are few things worse than clock-watching your way until the sun comes up because you can't sleep. If you've tried everything to get some shut eye, these meditations and mantras for insomnia are worth a go. If you sleep in the same bed with someone else and don't want to fall asleep with headphones on, or apps just haven't worked for you, there are other meditations you can do on your own that work a whole lot better than staring at the ceiling.

Aside from being frustrating AF, according to the National Sleep Foundation, "Chronic insomnia (difficulty sleeping for three months or longer) may also lead to changes in mood, lack of motivation and energy, irritability, and more. When you're drowsy, it may make you feel tense and preoccupied, and the worry over your inability to sleep can add to this."

Being unable to sleep might also make you dread going to bed each night. This is no way to live, and eventually you're going to run out Netflix shows to watch as your insomnia persists. If you want to try a different approach, these insomnia meditations just might help you drift off to dreamland.

1Cognitive Shuffling

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Cognitive shuffling is kind of like the updated version of counting sheep. While there is an app you can use for this called mySleepButton, this meditation can also be done app free. Created by Cognitive Scientist Luc Beaudoin of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, it's pretty easy to do the cognitive shuffle, according to the mySleepButton website.

  • Get into bed.
  • Next, think of a random, emotionally neutral word consisting of at least five letters. (How about Caboodle?)
  • After picking your word, gradually spell it out in your mind.
  • Next, for each letter of the word, think of a word that starts with that letter, and imagine the item represented by the word.
  • Repeat this for each letter until you run out of words. For example, the first letter is "B." Words that start with the letter "B" are bath, book, baboon, etc. For each word you should be imagining a scene, for instance, reading your favorite book for the word "book."

2Sa Ta Na Ma (Mantra)

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Aside from meditations, mantras are a great way to increase your chances of falling asleep. The blog Spirit Voyage suggested looking at insomnia as an opportunity to meditate versus an insurmountable barrier. Once you flip the script in your mind, try repeating the mantra Sa Ta Na Ma, which Spirit Voyage noted means:

  • Saa = Infinity (totality of the cosmos)
  • Taa = Life (birth of form from the infinity)
  • Naa = Death (or transformation)
  • Maa = Rebirth

"These five sounds help balance the hemispheres of the brain. Insomnia is often caused by an imbalance of brainwaves, or chemistry within the brain. "'Sa Ta Na Ma' helps to regulate and soothe your mind. The mantra itself refers to the cycle of life, and has great power as a catalyst for change."

3I Am Calm, I Am Light (Mantra)

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"I am calm, I am light," which I stole from Lady Gaga, is my go-to mantra when I'm anxious, when I have insomnia, or both. The website Yogi Approved suggested a similar mantra: My mind is calm and my body is relaxed. Personally, this mantra reminds me that I am not my anxiety, and that my body is relaxed and light enough to float off to dreamland.

"Meditation is the act of centering the mind and body and going inward. Relaxing mind and body is also the key to help you fall asleep. Since mantras are effective for meditation, it makes sense that they’re also effective for falling asleep," Yogi Approved noted on its website.

4Talk Yourself To Sleep

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Talking to yourself is highly underrated, and if you're resistant to doing it, the news that it can actually help you sleep just might change your mind. Instead of mentally beating yourself up for not being able to sleep, the website Insomnia Free recommended being kind to yourself instead.

"One day I began to offer myself calming and soothing words instead of the typical alarmist, self-critical internal dialogue I was accustomed to. It made a huge difference. The change was remarkable, because it brought out to me so clearly what I had been missing all those years. It was so simple… and yet I had never done it."

If you're not sure where to start, head over to Insomnia Free for some positive self-talk ideas. Insomnia is awful, and if you've tried everything to banish it from your bedroom, a little kindness and distraction could make all the difference.

5Mindfulness Meditation Body Scan

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While you can listen to a mindfulness meditation body scan on YouTube or on an app, this meditation is super easy to do on your own while lying in bed. A body scan is basically taking inventory of each part of your body and mentally releasing the tension stored therein. Start at one end of your body (top, bottom, right or left) and mindfully work your way to the other side. You can do this for as little as five minutes or for as long as it takes you to fall asleep. (This also is the basis of that military-approved sleep hack that went viral back in September.)

6Tell Yourself *Not* To Fall Asleep

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It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works. If you're having anxiety around not being able to fall asleep, try tricking your brain into not being so anxious about it anymore. By repeating the phrase "Don't fall asleep," and trying your hardest to not fall asleep, your mind eventually gets over the fear of not falling asleep in the first place, Healthline reports.

7Whatever Meditation Suits You Best

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Like that old adage about going to the gym — "the best exercise is the one you'll actually do" — the best meditation to help you fall asleep is the one you can stick with. Whether that's imagining a boring, repetitive action — knitting, or peeling a hard-boiled egg are my go-to's — being mindful of the sensations around you, or repeating a set of words or phrases in your mind, the effectiveness of meditation lies in focusing on a particular thought and sticking with it. Don't let people make you think meditation is something you can only do with an app. Sleep tight, my friendlies.