The best sleep guided meditations for drifting off at night

Try sleep guided meditations to help you fall asleep and snooze through the night

illustration of woman lying down doing sleep guided meditations
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep guided meditations could be the solution to your sleepless nights. The mindful practice relaxes the body and mind, helping you get ready for a night of blissful rest. 

Meditation has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, how quickly you fall asleep and how long you can stay asleep. It's a natural cure for insomnia that will help you sleep more soundly, just like having the best pillow for your sleeping position or a solid bedtime routine

Research shows that sleep problems in older adults often go untreated, but mindfulness techniques like meditation can improve sleep quality and overall health, by reducing symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and depression. And, there's a science to it. "Meditation helps lower the heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and encouraging slower breathing, thereby increasing the prospect of a quality night’s sleep," explains William Fowler, Director of Content at Headspace. 

The parasympathetic nervous system is a direct neutralizer to the sympathetic nervous system, aka the system that triggers our fight or flight response when we feel anxious or stressed. Once we've activated the relaxed response instead, our breathing slows and our body relaxes, making it much easier to nod off. What's more, sleep guided meditations encourage us to let go of the challenges of the day. Many meditations suggest thinking of your thoughts and feelings like clouds passing through the sky, allowing you to let stressful ones come and go without feeling a need to focus on them at night time.

But, if you find meditation tricky at the beginning, you're not alone - it takes time to get into the groove of the practice. "Be kind to yourself in the process," says Eve Lewis Prieto, Director of Meditation at Headspace. "The more you take time training the mind to be more present, more aware, more compassionate the more that is going to show up in your daily life." 

Sleep guided meditations to help you drift off easily

1. Nightime SOS: Mental Chatter Meditation by Headspace

For those nights you just can't stop your mind racing or have recurring common nightmares, this sleep guided meditation is your go-to. Using the analogy of a rollercoaster, the 10-minute meditation by Headspace gently encourages you to step back from your thoughts and observe them, allowing them to come and go, rather than focusing on them, worrying about them or getting frustrated by them. The practice will help you quieten your mind, lower your heart rate, slow your breathing, relax your body and get you ready for sleep. 

2. 10 Minute Guided Meditation For Sleep & Relaxation by Boho Beautiful Yoga

Poor sleep hygiene is one of the most common causes of difficulty falling asleep. If you don't allow yourself time in the evening to prep for bed, you're likely to have trouble getting to sleep and find it difficult to stay asleep. Incorporating this 10 minutes guided meditation with ultra-soothing rain sounds into your routine will have you nodding off in no time. Allow your body and mind to relax as the calming music takes you into a space that welcomes deep sleep. This + a bedtime yoga practice = dream combo for pre-sleep relaxation. 

3. Rainday Antiques Sleepcast by Headspace

Headspace's Sleepcasts are like bedtime stories for adults. Using sound and visualization meditation techniques, in Rainday Antiques you'll be guided through a cozy antique shop while the rain patters outside and lulls you to sleep. The 10-minute sleep guided meditation is available for free on YouTube or you can access the 45-minute version on the Headspace app. 

4. Guided Meditation For Before Sleep by Great Meditation 

Sink into your mattress and unwind with this sleep guided meditation that's been created for you to do in bed or just before your head hits the pillow. To fully reap the benefits of meditation, you'd usually have to sit in a comfortable alert position and stay fully awake throughout the practice. But, the beauty of sleep guided meditations is that you can allow yourself to nod off mid-practice if it feels right, and this 10-minute meditation is perfect for doing just that. 

5. Stephen Fry's Blue Gold Sleep Story by Calm

Calm's Sleep Stories tell tales, combining words, music and sound effects to create a dreamy visualization that will help you drift off at night. Narrated by Stephen Fry, Blue Gold is a 24-minute sleep guided meditation. The soothing practice takes you through the sleepy villages and lavender fields of the South of France. Bliss. 

6. Positive Affirmation Meditation For Sleep by Bob Baker

Ending your day with positive affirmations is not only great for helping you fall asleep, but it's great for your overall wellbeing too. Research shows positive affirmation can improve a person's sense of self and overall health. Falling asleep to affirmations like "all is well in my world" and "everything is working out for my highest self" will help put you in a positive mindset, let go of the challenges of your day and relax your body and mind for good quality, deep sleep.