How to meditate in bed for a restful night’s sleep

The best antidote for a night spent tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling? Learning how to meditate in bed.

Snuggling into your duvet should, in theory, be the most relaxing time of the day. It’s a chance to unwind, reset and rest but unfortunately, it’s not always quite so simple. Anything from the stress of a lengthy to-do list to worries about the future can keep you up at night, sending your mind whirring into overdrive.

To get your mind back on side and regain balance before bedtime, try working through a simple body scan, checking in systematically from head to toes. The aim is to give every area permission to relax. “This is a beautiful thing you can do at night if you struggle going to sleep,” explains shaman and spiritual mentor Jo Bowlby. “You can talk yourself through this and it keeps your mind occupied. You’ll start to relish just lying in your bed, rather than panicking about whether you’ve fallen asleep. It’s your mind working with you rather than against you.”

To find out more about how to meditate in bed, watch the video with Jo above, or read her step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Set the scene

Let your eyes shut, and listen out to the furthest sound you can hear. Then, become aware of the nearest sound to you. It might be movement, it might be the sound of your breathing. You might even hear a sort of buzzing in your ears – your own sound of silence.

While your eyes are shut, become aware of your room. Visualise the roof, the ceiling, the walls and your body lying down. Then start to have a sense of your body from head to toes. Notice which points press deepest into the bed and then give your body permission to surrender. There is nothing to do, this is a moment for you to simply be.

Step 2: Relax your face

Bring your attention to your forehead, and have a sense of it easing and spreading. Let your focus go to the muscles around your eyes and let them relax. Have a sense of your eyes smiling beneath your eyelids. Let your whole face ease – relax your cheekbones, the little muscles beneath your earlobes, the top of your jaw. Have a sense of your jaw unhinging and dropping. Feel the space in your mouth and let your tongue relax. Again, let there be a little smile, with the corners of your mouth turning up slightly.

Step 3: Unwind your back and shoulders

Allow your throat to open, your neck to let go and ease. Feel your shoulders dropping away from your face, from your ears. Let all the little muscles in the top of your upper back melt. Relax your upper arms, your elbows. Allow your forearms to drop away from the elbows, the wrists to fall away from the forearms and feel the energy in the palms of your hands – you might even feel buzzing. Notice the energy in your hands as it falls into your thumbs, index fingers, middle fingers, ring fingers, little fingers. Notice how long your arms feel and feel the space inside of them.

Step 4: Take note of your breath

Next, bring your attention to your chest and let it spread open. Notice your breathing, how it moves your abdomen up and down with a gentle rise and fall. With each rise and fall, each cycle, let your stomach relax and drop.

Step 5: Travel down your spine

Become aware of your spine and the space between each vertebrae, and have a sense of your back melting into the bed. Notice the weight of the top half of your body and feel that sense of it dropping and relaxing. Wherever there is tension in your body, send your breath there.

Step 6: Relax down to your toes

Send your breath to your hips, and let them relax. Let the tops of your thighs fall or drop away from your pelvis, and the backs of your thighs melt. Relax your knees. Relax your shins, let them melt into your calves and your calves melt into your mattress. Bring your attention to your ankles and let them soften. Bring your attention then to your heels and let them relax. Let the tops of your feet spread and let the soles of your feet soften. Bring the attention to the balls of your feet and feel the energy here. Imagine that you’re breathing into your feet, and feel the energy in the soles. Feel the energy as you take your attention to your big toe – you might feel a pulse or heat. Feel it in your second toes, third toes, fourth toes and little toes.

Step 7: Sink into the mattress

With each cycle of breath, allow your body to drop further and further into the mattress. Enjoy that sense of being held and supported. Waves of relaxation wash down your body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Feel another wave of relaxation, and another, and another.

Step 8: Enjoy the stillness

Relish the sense of stillness and let your mind enjoy the stillness. If your mind still feels a little active, let it send the energy to different parts of your body. Wherever you put your focus, that’s where that nice, soothing, relaxing energy will go.

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