5 Mindfulness Exercises for Better Sleep

One of the basic mindfulness exercises consists in paying attention to your breathing and listening to the sounds around you. This can help you to fall asleep better and enjoy a restful night of sleep.
5 Mindfulness Exercises for Better Sleep

Written by Lorena González

Last update: 26 May, 2022

As a technique to increase one’s awareness, mindfulness includes certain exercises for better sleep. The basic premise is to pay full attention to the experiences of each occasion with interest, curiosity, and acceptance. In this sense, spending a few minutes before going to bed to tune in to oneself seems to be an appropriate strategy for modifying unhealthy routines and optimizing one’s quality of rest. 

Several studies have obtained results in this direction. For example, a study by Professor Jason C. Ong’s team shows that meditation is an effective alternative in people with chronic insomnia.

Next, with these 5 mindfulness exercises for better sleep, we’ll explain what some of the guidelines are that you can apply to focus on the present moment and enjoy a more restful sleep.

5 mindfulness exercises for better sleep

A woman breathing in fresh air.

1. Controlling your breathing is the first of the mindfulness exercises for better sleep

Learning to breathe properly is one of the keys to achieving a state of calm and conscious attention.

In fact, reviews such as the one conducted by Dr. Martin P. Paulus (University of California) find that the perception of one’s physical sensations is altered in different anxiety disorders.

Thus, performing several repetitions with a deep or complete breath before going to bed is a way to connect with bodily stimuli. By identifying how air comes in and out and noticing that the muscles relax, it’s possible to channel the tension into a slower and calmer response.

2. Focus on what helps you feel good

A woman with headphones listening to relaxing music in her bed.

Likewise, trying to detect those little pleasures that make you happy is a way of living the present moment to the fullest.

All you need to do is put into practice some simple ideas. From listening to a song to watching a video, remembering a happy scene, walking a bit, or doing some exercise.

With this strategy, you can gain a new perspective on the emotions of the moment. And this gives you the opportunity to assume different approaches and see everything from a certain distance before going to sleep.

You might be interested in: How Music Affects Your Mood

3. Doing a body scan is another mindfulness exercise for better sleep

The aim of this technique is to get in touch with one’s own somatic experience as it is. That’s to say, without judging, without rejecting the unpleasant sensations or becoming attached to the pleasant ones.

This exercise is called “body sweeping” or body scan and to do it, you need to sit in a comfortable position. Just sit with your back straight, if you want, although you also have the option of lying down.

Later, you should close your eyes, pay attention to your breathing, and make the journey through your body. Try to identify what you feel in different areas in order to achieve greater harmony.

4. Have a moment every night

A woman sleeping peacefully.
People with cabin syndrome often sleep excessively. In addition, while they are awake, they feel more tired than normal.

Ending the day with a brief space without distractions is also another viable method for practicing mindfulness.

In this case, you need to be in a quiet place and remain silent, with the TV off and without the phone on.

For example, when you’re about to eat, try to focus your attention on the tastes, smells, the touch of the food, or the temperature of the drink… Feel them! In this way, you’ll immerse yourself in the present, enjoying the possibility of observing the environment from another position.

Discover: Five Remedies to Steady Your Nerves and Sleep Well

5. Paying attention to the sounds that are produced

This is one of the quintessential formulas for training in the mindfulness technique. It consists of consciously addressing the sounds that occur around you.

Receiving them as they are, without trying to label or value them or think about them. That is, to hear them without any effort, to listen to them as they sound, leaving aside other external perceptions.

When you notice a distraction, observe what it is that caught your attention and return to these auditory stimuli.

Are you going to apply any of these mindfulness exercises for better sleep?

With these tips, we wanted to review some mindfulness suggestions that are useful before going to bed. As you put them into practice, you’ll learn to focus your attention, to connect with other sensations, and sleep better at night.

Which exercise will you start with?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Janssen, M., Heerkens, Y., Kuijer, W., van der Heijden, B., & Engels, J. (2018). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review. PloS One13(1), e0191332. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191332
  • Kemper, K. J., Mo, X., & Khayat, R. (2015). Are Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Associated with Sleep and Resilience in Health Professionals?. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.)21(8), 496–503. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0281; texto completo
  • Li, C., Kee, Y. H., & Lam, L. S. (2018). Effect of Brief Mindfulness Induction on University Athletes’ Sleep Quality Following Night Training. Frontiers in Psychology9, 508. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00508
  • Ong, J. C., Manber, R., Segal, Z., Xia, Y., Shapiro, S., & Wyatt, J. K. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep37(9), 1553–1563. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4010
  • Paulus M. P. (2013). The breathing conundrum-interoceptive sensitivity and anxiety. Depression and Anxiety, 30(4), 315–320. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22076; texto completo

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.