Sleep Meditation: How to Get Started

Sleep Meditation: How to Get Started

Here's what you need to know about Peloton's sleep classes.

By PelotonUpdated January 11, 2023


Tired of being tired? Why not try a sleep aid that is entirely natural and so effective you might be tempted to think it’s magic: sleep meditation.

Anyone interested in health and wellness should take their sleep seriously. After all, good sleep is essential to your ability to function on a daily basis. Failure to regularly get enough quality sleep is also linked with numerous chronic health problems, according to none other than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include the growing nationwide epidemics of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

If you have problems falling and staying asleep, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults report getting less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.

Don’t let sleep problems derail your health and fitness goals. Getting the restful sleep you need each night may be as simple as having a consistent bedtime routine that includes sleep meditation.

What is Sleep Meditation?

Sleep meditation is about calming the mind in order to relax the body and ease into deep, restful sleep.

After the distractions of the day are over and you’re lying in bed, that’s when fears, worries or stress begin vying for your attention. These thoughts are often tucked away during the day so you can accomplish needed tasks. It’s when you’re finally ready for a good night’s sleep that they reappear—often with a vengeance.

That’s why it’s important to prepare your mind as well as your body for sleep. Clearing intrusive, sleep-disruptive thoughts involves a combination of mental and physical techniques that can be learned and used whenever you need them.

Sleep meditation aims to move your focus away from the chatter in your head so that you can be fully in the present moment. Your attention shifts toward your breathing and other sensations in the body, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves focused on helping you “rest and digest.” This automatically slows your heart rate and breathing, increases serotonin levels, and makes it easier for you to drift off to sleep.

Benefits of Sleep Meditation

You already know what a lack of sleep feels like in your body and mind. A bad night’s sleep means daytime sleepiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and generally not feeling up to par. When sleep problems become chronic, it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and more. With sleep meditation, however, you can turn this around.

The benefits of sleep meditation include:

Better Sleep

Sleep meditation helps you sleep longer—and better. You’ll find it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get plenty of restorative deep sleep. That means spending more time in REM and deep sleep stages so you can forget all about the usual tossing and turning. You’re also much more likely to awake refreshed and restored. No wonder so many professional medical providers are recommending it.

If anxiety is keeping you up at night, meditation may be the antidote you’ve been looking for. And, while meditation during the day can work wonders, sleep meditation done while in bed, as you prepare to sleep, can really help you recapture those missing Zs.

Increased Focus

Less daytime sleepiness means greater clarity of thought and an improved ability to focus. The key to these improved daytime abilities is a calm mind. It’s what allows you to get good quality sleep at night and what allows you to better direct your focus and intentions during the day. Meditation teaches you how to calm your mind.

For example, we all have high expectations for ourselves—but with meditation, you’ll learn to minimize those as much as possible. As Peloton master yoga and meditation instructor Ross Rayburn says, “Clearly, there will be some hope or expectation that peace of mind will result and thus an easy sleep,” Ross says, “but by entering meditation with a mindset of no matter what happens, you’ve succeeded, you’re already beginning to ‘let go.’ That’s one of the fundamentals of shifting toward a calmer mind and body.”

By developing an innate sense of peace, you’ll feel better during the day—and yes, that should help you feel more relaxed and ready for sleep at night too. Win-win.

Mental Health

According to the American Psychological Association, insomnia not only can take years off your life, but is also associated with increased hopelessness, depression and irritability. Improved sleep has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression as well as improve mood, memory and even your patience levels. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’re able to better tolerate inevitable frustrations during the day when you’ve had good sleep the night before.

Body Recovery

Good sleep is essential if you’re working out and wanting to make your body stronger and more fit.

Sleep is the ultimate wellness hack, as Peloton instructors like to say. That’s because sleep is when our body takes out the metabolic trash and when we physically and mentally process whatever we are doing in our daily life. For example, if you’re spending time biking, running, strength training or doing yoga, sleep is the time when your body recovers.

What is the ‘Power of Sleep’ Program?

Peloton has created the Power of Sleep program because sleep hygiene alone is not enough. Sleep hygiene are those things you can do that will improve the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep: such as putting aside the cell phones and other electronics, and keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.

Studies have shown that mindfulness meditations—like the Power of Sleep program—can significantly improve the quality of your sleep.

Ready to dive in? Ross recommends that newbies start with shorter meditation classes at first. Peloton’s 14-day Power of Sleep program, designed and led by Peloton’s expert meditation instructors, including Ross, Aditi Shah, Kristin McGee, and Anna Greenberg, guides Members of all experience levels through the different teachers and techniques, so you can experiment and figure out which style resonates most with you.

“Some meditations help give us energy, others help us cultivate certain qualities such as kindness or empathy,” says Kristin, “but sleep meditations are geared toward truly calming the body down, quieting the mind and setting the stage for sleep—we’ll tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest phase, which naturally calms the mind and body.”

Topics Covered

Power of Sleep offers guided sleep meditation and is available on the Peloton App. If you’re not already a Member of the Peloton family, there are two different membership options available that will provide access to the Power of Sleep.

Here are a few of the topics covered in the Power of Sleep program:

  • Using your breath to release tension

  • Step-by-step body scanning to relax your body

  • Visualization to direct your focus and clear your mind

  • Counting and day-scanning to help release intrusive thoughts

  • Sleep music to assist with activating the parasympathetic nervous system

About the Instructors

If you’re new to Peloton’s Power of Sleep program, we’d like to invite you to learn more about the instructors who will be guiding you through the program:

Ross Rayburn, master yoga and meditation instructor. Ross guides you toward a fuller awareness of the potential of your mind and body, with the aim of helping you become the best version of yourself.

Aditi Shah helped to launch Peloton Meditation in 2018. Aditi likes to incorporate creativity, fun, and flow into everything she does, including her signature series, Flow and Let Go.

Kristin McGee, is a firm believer in creating routines that can easily fit into your daily life.

Anna Greenberg is a renowned instructor in NYC, and is all about helping those in her class to embrace the transformation possible with focused effort, so they can achieve their wildest dreams.

Just 14 Days to Complete

In as little as 2 weeks, Peloton’s Power of Sleep program will have you sleeping more soundly and better than ever. All it takes is 5-10 minutes per night, every night, for 14 days. How easy is that?

Immediate Steps to Better Sleep

Good sleep hygiene, combined with sleep meditation, can make a remarkable difference in the quality of your life. Here are a few sleep hygiene practices recommended by the Sleep Foundation:

Remove Noise, Distractions, and Your Cell Phone

A cool, quiet and dark bedroom is a must for anyone trying to sleep soundly. Removing any distractions, especially electronics (TV, computer, cell phones), is equally important to help quiet your mind before sleep.

Practice Breathing Exercises

There are many types of breathing exercises you can include in your meditation practice. One recommended by the Sleep Foundation is called “box breathing” in which you inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of 4.

Let Go of Tension in the Body

Meditation, even in short 10-minute doses, can train your brain to focus on what you want, and not to go down the rabbit hole of available distractions. This allows you to identify and release tension in each body part as you prepare for sleep.

Practice Self-Compassion and Patience

Your success with sleep meditation will vary from night to night, depending on all kinds of things, like the events of your day, or whether that night’s topic or instructor particularly resonated with you.

As you go through the Power of Sleep guided meditation classes, you’ll learn how to develop a consistent meditation practice—but if it takes you a bit to get the hang of sleep meditation, that’s okay.

“Be compassionate with your experience,” Ross says. “Similar to the idea of minimizing expectations, if you can honor your efforts no matter what your experience, that kind of openness is a powerful portal to profound experiences in meditation.”

Get Started with Sleep Meditation Today

When life is stressful, our racing minds often keep us awake—and even when we finally drift off, we still might toss and turn all night long. Sound familiar? You may want to consider trying sleep meditation, which can help you get better Zs.

It’s important to find a way to ease your mind, so your body will follow you into a deep, restful and rejuvenating sleep. It’s also important to remember that good sleep hygiene alone is often not enough. Peloton’s Power of Sleep Program can help you quiet your mind, tune into your body and learn to relax.