Over the last 2 years, I have become quite good at meditating every morning. As I was wondering whether meditating at night as well would be a good idea, here is what I found out.
Is it bad to meditate at night? It depends on what you hope to get out of the meditation practice, and on which meditation technique you are using. If you want to have a deep meditation practice, during which you will be fully awake, then you should choose a time when you are not too tired to practice yet. If meditation should help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep, then a technique such as mindfulness could help you achieve this.
Now let’s dive deeper into the topic and see whether meditating at night is a good idea for you!
Is meditating at night a bad idea?
What is your motivation for meditating at night?
1. Meditating at night, when you are tired and more or less ready to go to sleep. In this case, it is a bad idea IF you plan on getting better at meditating and training the mind using meditation techniques.
2. Meditating at night, right before going to sleep, to the contrary, is a great idea IF you want to release tension that you built up during the day, fall asleep quicker and have a better quality of sleep overall afterwards.
Many people – including individuals who are subject to insomnia – report experiencing a dramatic improvement in their sleep pattern when meditating at night.
But in this case, you should pay attention to the meditation practice you use. Some techniques can be energising and will, therefore, make you more awake than before.
For instance, some intense breathing meditation techniques could be very counter-productive if you plan on sleeping, as they will cause massive oxygen flow into your blood and your body will feel highly energetic afterwards.
Pick a meditation technique that will help you…
- Mindfulness. I’ve had a great experience with the Headspace app.
- Count your breaths, count down or count the sheep (seriously)
- Self-love, self-compassion can also be very good in order to go to bed with a better feeling about yourself and your life
- Forgiveness meditation could help you release negative charges towards someone else or the day
3. Meditating at night – when you are still not tired – can also be a great idea in order to explore different challenges and states of mind. Our brain seems to work somewhat differently in the morning compared to other stages of the day.
And since meditation is a lot about experimenting with (or without?) your mind, this can create a different and interesting situation for your practice.
On the other hand, it may FEEL more “difficult” for you to meditate at night since the day has brought upon a lot of new things to think about.
But you CAN’T fail at meditation. If you showed up and meditated, you practised and this is all that matters.
Plus, meditating in a more challenging situation is good training. You become better at introducing meditative moments throughout your day when you really need it (e.g. in times of stress) if you already had the chance to practice a lot at night.
What to consider if you plan on meditating at night
When you want to focus on your meditation practice
In that case, you should avoid meditating in or on your bed. Your mind tends to associate sleep with it, therefore it would be best to have a clear separation in order to stay focused on your practice.
Also, pay attention to the time and how tired you feel. Sometimes I have tried to force myself to meditate in a focused manner when, really, I was dead tired already and totally ready for sleep.
If you could just fall asleep right away – then do this rather than fighting your sense of sleep to meditate. Sleep is crucial, and you may miss your window if you push too hard.
When you want to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
In that case – go for it – make sure you are ready to sleep. Did you brush your teeth? Ok, great, you can start now!
Make sure you are installed comfortably in your bed, lying as if you were simply going to sleep.
I sometimes use meditation apps to help me out when either my mind is too busy, or I want to try out a certain type of meditation (e.g. forgiveness). The app normally stops automatically after the meditation is over, and I can fall asleep during the session, no problem.
But, if you want to have all the electronics away to fall asleep, you can go for the easier methods. In the past, I have found counting my breath very useful. Counting down or counting sheep also seems quite effective.
Should you still meditate other times during the day if you already meditate at night?
Meditation is something you can hardly ever have too much of. It generally is a good idea to practice more and more often.
While your night meditation practice will generally help you sleep better (if done well as explained above), a morning meditation can help you start the day on the right foot. Even just 5 minutes of morning meditation can change the course of the whole day.
I generally meditate for about 15 minutes every morning, before any human interaction. In the meantime, I like to feel of this practice almost as my coffee replacement. Those 15 minutes help me feel like the day is mine. I feel like having full responsibility and power over the course of it.
Other great times to meditate in order to apply what you have learned during your night meditation practice are throughout the day. You can have a moment of meditation on any occasion. When the subway doors close, when your boss yells at you, when you are about to give in to some craving (cookie anyone?).
With time, a consistent meditation practice – no matter if done at night, in the morning, or any other time of the day – will help you see all of the events happening in your life through a different angle. You will be able to breathe deeply even when getting fired. Ain’t that great?
Books That I Love… To Help You Out: