Just saying the words “deep sleep meditation” feels relaxing.
Next to a good workout (or love making), you can’t beat it for quality rest.
Over the past several years as I’ve deepened in meditation practice, I’ve noticed my overall anxiety levels drop dramatically even in the midst of life’s stressful events. The typical stressors of family, relationships, and work can often distract us and cause restless nights.
While those have increased for me in the past year, using meditation as a bedrock has allowed me to stay anchored in the moment with less anxiety. It has also gifted me many, much needed restful nights.
While my own anecdotal experience has been that meditation feeds into deep, restful sleep, scientific observation leads to measurable physiological data that backs it up .
We say it all the time here at MM: “The mind-body connection is alive and well.”
Through neuroimaging studies and research measuring hormone and autonomic activity, we are seeing why meditation leads to reduced anxiety, increased peace, and more regular sleep cycles.
Multiple studies over the last several years have measured brain activity during sleep cycles with mindfulness meditation practitioners vs. control groups.
These replicated studies have shown that practitioners experience greatly enhanced states of Slow Wave Sleep (Deep/Quiet Sleep) in comparison to non-meditating control groups .
Meditation has a positive effect on deep sleep for all age groups.
As we get older, the amount of time we spend in deep sleep decreases due to natural biological processes. But in these studies, it was found that mindfulness practitioners between the ages of 50-60 spent nearly the same amount of time in deep and delta wave sleep as non-practitioners between ages 30-39.
The control group (non-practitioners) between ages 50-60 spent less than half the time in Slow Wave Sleep when compared to their meditating counterparts. And for all the younger meditators out there, the meditating group spent 80 percent more time in deep sleep than their same age control group counterparts. 
The reasons that aging can lead to decreases in restful sleep are multifold. But one significant reason is the increase in sympathetic nervous system activity.
The sympathetic nervous system is your “Fight-or-Flight” system, the one that will increase your heart-rate and keep you alert when you are afraid, riled up, or stressed.
Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system is our “Rest and Digest” pathway, which calms the heart rate, puts us more at peace, and also plays a large role in sexual arousal.
Researchers have found that experienced meditators are able to maintain higher parasympathetic activity as they age, leading not only to more restful sleep but also a reduced risk for cardiovascular attack and maintaining a sex drive later in life .
This effect also happens for those in younger populations.
In the increasingly “busy” world we live in, we are more prone to sympathetic activation and reacting to stressors. Being surrounded by a society that seems to always be in a rush doesn’t help.
But meditation and mindfulness practices that remind us to stay in the moment have repeatedly shown to keep an increased parasympathetic balance to counteract the “Fight-or-Flight” response and maintain steadier peace throughout life. [5, 6]
In addition to experiencing deeper sleep, my dreams also have become more vivid. We dream in the REM sleep stage, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. If you’ve ever seen a loved one fall asleep, when their eyes begin twitching, they are probably dreaming.
Deep Sleep Meditation and REM
In the same studies referenced above, mindfulness meditators have also been found to have more enhanced REM cycles, which may explain the increase in vivid dreams reported by many meditators.
This REM activity has also been linked to explanations on why experienced meditators exhibit more neuro-plasticity, or the ability to rewire and connect different, sometimes disparate parts of the brain. The brain is still working when we sleep, and meditation seems to make that a productive and restful time. 
If you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep at night, meditation before bed can lead to physiological changes that might help.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep, with higher levels in the blood easing us into sleep. In a study comparing meditators to a control group, night-time plasma melatonin levels were measured.
Meditators showed higher plasma melatonin levels at night following their meditation than non-meditators, with the implication being sleep would be much more likely to follow .
Furthermore, much attention in psychology has been focusing on using deep sleep meditation in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat insomnia.
Indeed, a 2008 study showed promising results that patients who used meditation in addition to CBT experienced decreased pre-sleep arousal and decreased sleep dysfunction . In short, they had an easier time falling asleep and sleeping well.
Deep Sleep Meditation for Beginners
Science is beginning to back up and give us greater physiological understanding on how meditation puts our minds in connection with the body. If you’re someone just beginning as a meditator and are having trouble sleeping, try this:
- As you are lying in bed, close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth.
- Slowly visualize your body, part-by-part, starting with the feet.
- Breathe into each body part and just feel it.
- With the slow out-breath, just repeat the word “relax” in your mind, and feel as each body part relaxes.
Here are two guided meditation audios with scripts, one is 10 minutes and the other one is 20 minutes long.
Copyright Notice: We own the commercial rights for these meditations and scripts. You may not make recordings or reproduce these meditations, except for your personal, private use.
Guided Meditation for Deep Sleep: 10 Minutes
Guided Meditation Script for Deep Sleep
Begin this meditation when you are already prepared for sleep and lying comfortably in your bed. Make sure that your electronics are off and that there are no distractions to disturb you from your sleep.
And when you’re ready, softly close your eyes.
Begin by focusing on your head.
As you notice any muscles in your face that you might be holding – sometimes this is in our forehead, with our eyebrows – sometimes it’s our jaw…whatever muscles you’re holding onto here, just let them go slack.
As you do so, let your breath be soft and gentle, without trying to control it or change it.
And your awareness now travels into your throat. If there’s any muscle tension here, just let it go.
And continue to let your awareness drift even further downwards, into your shoulders. If any muscles are clenched here, just release them and let gravity do its work, as you release them and sink more deeply into the bed
Notice your arms now, and your hands.
If there is any tension here, just release and let it go.
Now do the same with your torso…any muscles that are tight are free to be relaxed, as you welcome gravity to step in and do its job.
You feel yourself sinking even more deeply into your bed, as your awareness continues to travel down into your hips, feeling any muscles that are tight relaxing; letting go of any tension you may be holding on to.
And now let your awareness travel even further down, into your thighs…releasing any muscles here…as they grow heavy, into the bed.
Breathing softly and gently as you move further down, letting your awareness rest on your knees, and your calves and your feet. Letting any muscle tension here be released.
And now your entire body from the top of your head, to the soles of your feet, is completely at ease.
Feel how heavy your body feels in your bed.
It feels as though you can barely lift a muscle, even if you tried…as if your eyelids are glued shut…and your body is completely attached to the bed.
This heaviness brings with it a deep feeling of peace and comfort. As you allow your body to feel as though it is floating…you may imagine it floating on the ocean, or in the clouds…just relax into this floating sensation.
Let yourself feel your body floating into a state of deep sleep.
There is nothing you need to do besides allow your body to simply relax.
This floating sensation allows you to feel, almost dreamy.
You feel as though you are entering into a world of beautiful dreams.
And as you float while listening to these words, you begin to enter into a dreamlike state. Your mind slowing down…
Your heart rate resting…
The whole world becoming quiet…and peaceful…
…As your body both sinks into the bed, while simultaneously feeling like it’s floating away, into a deep, deep, sleep…
You feel appreciation in your heart for your body’s ability to sleep…
And you set the intention that your sleep be of the highest purpose…resting deeply, so that you may have more energy when you awake…
Your body grows even more tired and you allow yourself to drift off into deep, deep, sleep…
Guided Sleep Meditation: 20 Minutes
Sleep Meditation Script
Welcome, I am going to guide you down into a restful and rejuvenating deep sleep.
Sleep is a powerful experience that we all have, no matter who you are.
Sleep allows our bodies to heal and our minds to sort through any problems, so that we can create our future.
Meditation is a wonderful way for us to access a slower brain frequency state, that is similar to when we are sleeping.
Are you ready to go into a very relaxing state to allow yourself the deep sleep every night that you deserve?
Find a small spot to gaze at somewhere comfortably in front of you. Focus on this spot and do not let your eyes turn away. As you look here, I am going to ask you to blink your eyes with every number I count, starting with the number 10.
Ok….10…..blink your eyes….9….blink….8….blink…..7…..6…..5…..4…..3…..2……1….and zero….your eyes are ready to gently close so just allow them to, and you will notice when you do so a gentle wave of relaxation sweeps over you completely.
We are going to do a very relaxing body scan now to fully relax your body.
Begin to focus on your right palm…Relax your right palm and hand…relax each finger, one by one…..relax your right wrist…..your forearm…..your elbow….relax your right bicep and entire upper arms…..relax your right shoulder and down to your right hip, relaxing it too…..you relax your right leg all the way down to your right ankle and foot…..each toe on your right foot slowly lets go completely……bring your awareness up now the right side of your neck, relaxing it…..allow any sounds you hear to feel like tiny waves of relaxation going into your right ear……the entire right side of your head fully relaxes…..
Your right brain relaxes, allowing creativity to be fully accessible…..Your entire right side is fully calm and relaxed…..Sleep is easy for you when you feel this relaxed…..
Begin to focus on your left palm…Relax your left palm and hand…relax each finger, one by one…..relax your left wrist…..your forearm…..your elbow….relax your left bicep and entire upper arm…..relax your left shoulder and down to your left hip, relaxing it too…..you relax your left leg all the way down to your left ankle and foot…..each toe on your left foot slowly lets go completely……bring your awareness up now the left side of your neck, relaxing it…..allow any sounds you hear to feel like tiny waves of relaxation going into your left ear……the entire left side of your head fully relaxes…..
Your left brain relaxes, allowing rationality to be fully accessible…..Your entire left side is fully calm and relaxed…..this brings you closer to falling asleep…..
Now bring your awareness to your back, starting with the back of your head….allow the weight of the back of your head to generate relaxation….the back of your neck relaxes…..your shoulders and shoulder blades fully relax…..your entire upper back is completely relaxed…..your spine relaxes starting from the neck…slowly going down, bone by bone….relaxing your nervous system that runs through the spine…..
Your lower back relaxes as it presses against the surface you are laying on…..your hips, pelvis, and glutes relax….the back of your legs, all the way down to your ankles…..this makes you feel so sleepy…
We are going to go through one more focus scan on the front of our bodies, starting at your forehead…..many of us hold tension in our foreheads….so allow your forehead to just melt away, allowing wrinkles to flatten……this also relaxes the frontal cortex of the brain……the place of creative formulation……relax your eyes now and notice they are making tiny movements….these movements are called rapid eye movement which allows you to relax, even more……and notice your nose and how the air passes through, this flow to relaxes you…..relax your mouth and your tongue…..
Relax your throat…..going down relaxing your entire lungs……relax your heart……relax your ribs and stomach……allow off of your vital organs to relax…..your liver….pancreas….spleen…..kidneys…. your entire digestive system relaxes…..your reproductive organs completely relax……the tops of your legs relax all the way down the tops of your feet…..
Every single part of you is so relaxed right now.
Breathe in and breathe out.
Take several deep breaths, and as you exhale, allow the breath to relax you.
Felling even more sleepy.
Breathe in and breathe out, relaxing even more.
Allow your breath to flow naturally now.
Restful sleep is natural for you, it is natural for everyone. Up until now, you’ve allowed your thoughts to have control over you, keeping you from getting the slumber you deserve. But now you are done with this habit because you deserve restful sleep, and over-thinking is unnecessary and unnatural.
Breathe in and out.
You notice the slight sound of your gentle breath, reminding you of a calm breeze, a serene ocean or perhaps a clear stream, trickling by. Your breath is similar to these scenes in nature, because your breath is the most natural thing in this world.
The breath slows a bit more, which means you are very relaxed and ready to doze off into a beautiful sleep. It’s been so long since you’ve been able to fall asleep so easily, that your body welcomes this sensation.
Let your mind to drift and wander to the thought of a soft, and fluffy pillow. You may be lucky enough to be laying on one right now. Imagine this pillow and feel its softness supporting you. Feeling how it was created just for you to rest your head upon.
It is a very important tool in a restful sleep.
The sound of my voice becomes distant now as the sensations of sleep are drawing very close, it’s a very pleasant feeling. These gentle sensations come very naturally for you.
It is your human right to always get a good night’s sleep, being completely rejuvenated when you rise. Breathe.
Now, just let my voice completely fade away, and enjoy this sleep you naturally experience.
Guided meditations provide structure. You don’t need to wait and pay for a teacher to get started with your practice. Start with my personal collection of some of the best YouTube guided meditations.