Body Scan Meditation For Sleep
Many different meditation techniques are designed specifically to help us relax and relieve ourselves of the stress and anxiety that may be causing us to struggle with getting to sleep.
Probably the most widely practised and accessible technique used for this purpose is a body scan.
In a body scan, we choose a part of the body, typically the top of the head and then follow the sensations we feel either down into our limbs and torso and then back up again until we arrive back to where we started.
This can be just as easily practised laying down as it can sitting upright, which is why a body scan meditation for sleep is so useful.
How effective is a body scan for improving sleep?
Body scanning is especially good at this as it not only focuses on relieving tension from the mind, but the body also.
Stress is often the cause of poor sleep, not being able to let your brain relax and drift off. However, we often hold tension in our bodies that we don’t even realize we have, by learning to listen to our bodies, we can recognize the physical symptoms of stress and then begin to relieve them.
A 2019 study found that participants following a guided body scan meditation for sleep lowered their level of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress in just 8 weeks of practice.
How to practice a body scan meditation for sleep in bed
Here’s a simple body scan practice you can use whenever you find your self laying in bed struggling to fall asleep. .
Lay on your back.
The best position to be in for a body scan in bed is on your back. Even if your use to sleeping on your front or side its best to have your body laying symmetrically on the bed whilst you do your scan.
Breathe and relax.
Take in a few deep breaths and exhales to get your self started. When you breathe out, try to focus on relieving some of that tension that’s lingering in your limbs.
Move your attention to the top of your head.
Focus your attention at the very top of your head and try to zone in on any sensation you find there. You might find a slight tingling, vibrations, the feeling of hot or cold ect.
It’s important to remember that your not looking for anything in particular, everything is valid. Even the feeling of blankness is observable.
Bring your attention back to your body when your mind wanders.
Without doubt, at some point, your mind will wander. This is completely fine, just acknowledge that it has happened and continue with your scan.
Meditation techniques that incorporate body scans
If you want to delve deeper in body scanning, there are plenty of different techniques that use body scanning to achieve different results.
Here are a few
Vipassana uses the arising and passing of bodily sensations to help us gain an understanding of teh nature of impermanence.
The body scan is used to observe sensation, both good and bad without aversion or craving and in doing so, bring this state of mind of non-reaction into our everyday lives.
Mindfulness sometimes uses a body scan techniques to help connect ourselves to our physical bodies and the present moment.
By allowing ourselves to focus on the present moment with compassion and understanding, we can make non-judgmental observations about our current habits and tendencies that may be causing us harm.
Deep Sleep Guided Meditation has become particularly popular in the last few years as research has continued to show how beneficial meditation can be at helping people find sleep.
Generally, people will use either guided sleep meditation or sleep story when they’re laying in bed to help them switch off and fall asleep.