Many newcomers to meditation come looking for a relaxing and calming outlet for the stresses of the day. Meditation is the body’s way of being relaxed, clear of thought, and at peace. Meditation is a great way to relieve stress, keep yourself calm, and forget about the adversity life throws at you. But when you’re starting out, you may have tried to meditate lying down and struggled to not fall asleep.
Why is meditation while lying down so difficult?
When we’re closing our eyes and getting into a relaxed state, it’s easy to see how we can become sleepy and begin to drift off while we’re trying to meditate. This exacerbates when we try to meditate lying down.
Who knew it could be so difficult to meditate lying down?
If you’ve ever tried to meditate you know the routine. You find the best time to meditate, launch the best meditation app, listening to your favorite guided practice, while you lay down motionless with your eyes fastened shut searching for that inner “zen”. The hard part is not getting into a state of relaxation, but actually staying awake while you’re in it. Can you meditate lying down? If you struggle with meditation lying down, you’re not alone.
Using meditation to fall asleep isn’t the goal but it’s okay if that’s how you use it
Meditation is a practice developed over thousands of years as a way to live a more examined life. It’s a way to gain clarity on how your mind works, and become better at responding to things and emotions in your life.
However, if you use meditation to fall asleep, and you don’t mind it, you should continue to use it that way. Sleep disorders are very common and unless you want to go the less than ideal route of seeking medication or drugs, meditation is a healthy sleep aid.
We even recommend our meditation app to help you sleep. But if falling asleep while meditating lying down is not your goal, we’ll tackle why this happens and what you can do before and during your practice to ensure you have a focused, productive session.
How to not sleep while lying down meditating?
If you’ve ever asked yourself this question, or have ended up passing out yourself, it’s common among newcomers. Consider it a part of the learning curve when it comes to developing a regular and daily meditation practice. Meditation is hard to master, and can actually require quite a bit of mental training on your end (it’s not like the movies).
So let’s get right down to it, and take a look at how you can properly enter a state of meditation without falling asleep before you get there.
Avoid your bed at all costs
While it might sound like being cozy in the safety of your bed will help you relax, it might actually end up making you a bit too relaxed. If you want to meditate lying down without falling asleep, avoid the comfiest place in your home.
That sounds odd right?
If you’re lying in your bed, your brain might actually be working against you. Instead of entering a state of meditation, your brain might just decide to clock out instead. That is a surefire way to cut your meditation short. While sleeping may be great for your body, you can do that anytime. Try to avoid it during meditation time, because meditation has plenty of benefits you’ll end up loving.
The last thing you want to do is associate your bed with meditation. It can affect both your sleep and your practice. There’s plenty of people who might read this trying to understand how to mediate in bed, but we’re going to recommend avoiding that unless you’re trying to use meditation to fall asleep.
So if I avoid my bed, where else can I meditate?
If you’re going to be avoiding your bed like the plague, you’ll want to find another safe space to meditate, such as dedicated meditation room. Making sure you’re comfortable is absolutely key with meditation, so if lying down is your thing, try a couch or comfortable rug. Ensure you’re maintaining a good meditation posture as well. This can provide with just the right amount of discomfort to keep you awake. If that fails, try keeping your head elevated. If you must meditate while lying down, (such as if you have back pain or are confined to your bed) elevate your head to keep you more alert and awake during the practice.
Water, lots of water
If you keep falling asleep and waking up in the middle of your practice, no matter how you’re trying it, water might be the quick fix you need. Believe it or not, water actually gets the body going. Your body needs water to be hydrated, but water can also keep your mind more alert. Whether you’re someone who drinks their 8 glasses a day regularly or not, this can be the solution you’re looking for.
What on earth do I do with lots of water?
The first thing you should try, and this may sound obvious, is drinking a glass of ice cold water before you meditate. Not only will this help you avoid that nasty dry mouth that comes with meditation, but it can actually help keep your mind from drifting a little bit too far into sleepy town.
In meditation water is your best friend. It can give you the energy to keep you from falling asleep when you’re meditating lying down.
If this trick does not work, and you’ve chugged as much water as you could to no avail, try splashing some cold water on your face. This will shock your body into being more alert before you even begin, which can help you maintain meditation. So before you give up on meditation, give water a shot.
Try caffeine: You can use caffeine from coffee or tea to help give you a more alert and unique meditation experience. Ensure you’re doing this only if you’re practicing meditation in the first half of the day, it’s not a great idea to take caffeine late in the day where it may interfere with your sleep.
Make sure you get enough sleep
If you’re tired, what do you think your brain is going to want to do when you close your eyes?
Obviously your brain is going to want to catch up on some much needed rest. So if jump into your meditation feeling drowsy, chances are you’ll end up unconscious in a matter of minutes. So before you even attempt meditation, make sure you’re getting your daily dose of sleep in.
Try not to meditate during naptime
This rule also applies to those of you who like getting a good nap here and there. If you tend to take a nap after lunch, or a giant meal at your favorite restaurant, try to avoid mediation during this window. If you need a nap take one, but don’t try and meditate if you can barely keep your eyes open after that hero you just ate.
To meditate lying down without falling asleep, schedule your seated practice times around optimal energy levels in your day.
Here are some other sleep cycle tricks you should follow:
- See if you can avoid meditating right after you wake up in the morning, because your brain will just want to go back to dreamland
- Try to avoid meditating before bed, because your brain will treat meditation as a soothing sleeping aid
- Avoid meditating at odd hours of the night when you should be sleeping instead, because you don’t want to have to fight for meditation.
Try being outdoors
Another trick to help you stay awake is to expose yourself to the elements. If it is the dead of winter you should obviously steer clear of this option, but lying down outside might just be one of the best tricks in the book. Believe it or not, your body responds very well to fresh air. The next time you try meditation, try lying down in the grass, or on a yoga mat outdoors. The sounds of being outdoors may be exactly what you need to stay awake, and can also provide a deeper meditation. If you despise the outdoors, or don’t have space outside to meditate, you can also try opening up your windows to let the breeze in.
What if I don’t have access to a backyard?
If don’t have access to a peaceful backyard, or happen to live in a busy city, you still have plenty of options. If you have a favorite park that you go to, try heading there during the day next time you want to meditate. While it may not be your own space, you’ll still be able to find your own little slice of nature to help you drift into meditation. For this particular method, you should definitely bring some type of meditation aid to help drown out the sounds of other people.
Try a focused practice
If you’re still struggling to stay awake during a meditative practice while lying down, you might need to try a different type of meditation. I recommend a practice that has you focus deeply on your breath or physical points of contact.
A guided meditation practice that emphasizes focus can help you be more attentive. If you’re used to practices that attempt to relax you, try a mindfulness practice like this when meditating while lying down.
Try to sit up
Ultimately, the best piece of advice here and the thing you should be ultimately doing to enhance your meditation practice is to sit up straight. Not only will this help keep you awake but it will make you more attentive during the practice, especially if you maintain an upright but comfortable posture.
It’s probably not what you want to hear, and you might enjoy meditation when you’re lying down, but the ideal position to practice it in is seated.
Meditation can be great for your body, mind, and overall well being. It can be a great outlet for you to escape the troubles of modern life, but you definitely don’t want to fall asleep instead. While you might end up feeling relaxed, you won’t be getting those great meditation benefits that come along with sticking it out. So the next time you try to meditate, try following some of these tips to help you meditate lying down without falling asleep.