Falling asleep during guided meditation is quite common and is often the result of the fact that you are not actively engaged or you are doing it in settings that may trigger sleep naturally.
The benefits of meditation are now firmly rooted in western culture and what was once seen as ‘new age’ mambo jumbo has now been embraced by western science and medicine.
The benefits of meditation are undisputed. In a world where mental health has become a major issue, it promises to be a big part of the solution.
Meditation can be a strange experience at first. Many people really struggle with the very idea of being still for more than 1 minute.
We have become so used to all the distractions in life that we have lost that connection with our Self which can only be found in the silence.
God’s one and only voice is silence.– Herman Melville
Guided meditations make it easier as it takes you by the hand and walks you through the process.
While it does make meditation easier to the untrained individual it also comes with some challenges and falling asleep is most certainly one of the big issues.
Is It Ok To Fall Asleep During Meditation?
The first thing to understand is that your subconscious mind never sleeps. Sleep is a function of the body and the conscious mind.
The simple proof is that when you are asleep, any alarming sound will instantly wake you. Your subconscious is always awake and aware – always alert and ready to respond if needed.
This fact became a very interesting point of attention in the late 1980’s when the idea of subliminal recordings took off.
The basic premise is that you can ‘program’ your subconscious mind while you are asleep or not fully aware and awake.
Because your subconscious mind is always listening, the idea is that you can ‘feed’ your mind positive and empowering messages for change while you are asleep.
While there is some debate about how suggestions reach the subconscious, for the most part the subliminals do work – even though they work much more subtle than most would try to sell you.
With guided meditations there is a level subliminal ‘programming’ and when you are falling asleep during guided meditation there certainly still is some benefit.
Will you get all the benefit from it if you fall asleep?
If your guided meditation revolves around visualization it often requires your conscious awareness.
When you involve your conscious, subconscious and superconscious all at the same time you will gain the most.
If your guided meditations lead you into a deep sleep it may not be entirely bad either. Many people fail to reach that really deep sleep because of surface level worries, stress or anxiety.
Ultimately you need to get clear on why you are meditating.
If you are looking to get something specific out of it through a guided meditation then you might want to explore some of the ideas below on how to stay awake during meditation.
The Problem With Guided Meditation
Guided meditations are essentially audio tracks that you can listen to where someone’s voice will guide you through the meditation.
It usually has some calming audio in the background or some binaural beat that attempts to simulate certain brain wave frequencies.
Meditation is often made out to be much more complicated than it really is. In really basic practices, you simply need to close your eyes, turn your attention inwards and focus on your breathing.
Meditation is ultimately about reaching an altered state of consciousness.
Guided meditation is how most people learn to meditate or start meditation. It is also a popular way to explore different meditation practices and techniques by following the guidance of someone who is skilled and/or experienced.
It makes meditation easier but there are two issues that you will most likely encounter.
The first is that guided meditation is passive. You are not required to engage yourself in any way other than to listen.
This is one of the big reasons why many people are falling asleep during guided meditation.
The second issue is that most people believe that the audio track will create the change ‘for them’.
The idea of just listening to some audio track and having your entire life change by itself is ludicrous.
Even with guided meditation your active engagement and consciousness is needed to be fully aware and engaged with what you are doing if you were to get the maximum benefit from it.
How To Stop Falling Asleep During Guided Meditation
- Do Not Meditate Close To Sleep Times
- Identify Your Peak Times
- Find The Right Place To Meditate – Cool, Light
- Do Not Lie Down
- Walking Meditation
1. Do Not Meditate Close To Sleep Times
Meditating close to sleep times is the most likely to cause you to fall asleep during guided meditation.
This includes shortly after waking up and close to going to bed at night.
If you do not get enough sleep at night, the early morning when you first wake up means you are very likely to doze off again to make up for the lack of sleep.
Meditating at night close to sleep time can also cause you to doze off – especially after a long day when you feel tired and need rest.
2. Identify Your Peak Times
We all have ‘peak times’ during the day when we are most alert and most awake. These times vary greatly for individuals.
Many people are most alert mid-morning while others are most alert in the early evening.
Late afternoons tend to be the least alert time. These times often correspond to meal times and if you have a heavy lunch or dinner, the period shortly after tends to be the worst times to meditate.
Identify your peak times when you feel most alert and awake and try and use your guided meditations during these times.
It may not always be possible due to work or other commitments but try and find a more productive and alert time and set aside 20 to 30 minute blocks within these times.
Meditating during your peak times will undoubtedly get you the most out of your meditation and minimize the chances of you falling asleep.
3. Find The Right Place To Meditate
Where you meditate is just as important as when you meditate. A warm, dark and cozy room is probably the worse place to pick and while the bedroom is a popular choice it is also the ‘best place’ for you to be falling asleep during guided meditation.
Your brain is conditioned to fall asleep under certain conditions. The bedroom is often associated with sleep as well.
Find a room or even a place outside that is not conducive to sleep. A room that is filled with light, well ventilated and cool will be much more suited to keep you awake.
Many meditation practices centre around breathing and breathing techniques. Actively engaging in breathing not only helps you focus your attention but it also active keeps you engaged.
With guided meditation it tends to be more passive and because you are not engaged in your breathing you tend to doze off.
When your breathing becomes shallow it tends to simulate sleep and if you combine this with your eyes being closed you can easily fall asleep during guided meditation.
By actively focusing on your breathing you can simulate ‘wake time’ breathing and stay awake. The benefits of active breathing is that it also keeps you more engaged.
Staying hydrated may sound like generic advice and is something we hear all the time but it is incredibly important in how alert you may or may not feel.
We often get busy and we fail to listen to our bodies. Drinking plenty of water on a consistent basis is vital to your general health.
If you are prone to falling asleep then make sure that you remain hydrated. Make a conscious effort to drink more water and stay clear of sugary drinks as they tend to have the opposite effect.
You can also have some water close by when you are meditating and when you feel yourself dozing off, some water can help wake you up – especially some cold water.
6. Do Not Lie Down
Most people will fall asleep when they lie down – especially if they are tired or even just when the room conditions are conducive to sleep.
When you lie down for meditation it often leads to sleep because it simulates sleep. Most meditation practices assume a sitting position without any back support (like a chair).
When you are sitting upright, it is very hard to fall asleep. You may still doze off but that will most probably only happen if you are very tired and sleepy.
Avoid lying down as that it one of the main reasons why most people fall asleep during meditation.
7. Walking Meditation
Meditation does not have to be in a quiet room by yourself. Walking meditations are becoming more popular.
The idea is that when you walk at a consistent pace it has a meditative effect anyway. The fact that you are active and moving actually makes for the idea conditions to do guided meditation.
Try and do this in more secluded settings. If you can go for a walk in the woods or in nature it will work far better than crowded urban settings where there are people who can distract you.
Walking meditations are also a great way to combine being active with your meditation practice.
Falling Asleep During Guided Meditation – Conclusion
If you are falling asleep during guided meditation, don’t let that put you off. It is very normal and even natural – especially if you are new to meditation.
Listening to guided meditations even when you are asleep still offers some benefit since your subconscious mind is always awake, aware and listening.
Meditation however helps you reach a superconscious state of mind. This is where the real ‘juice’ comes from.
Being aware and conscious and transcending to a different state of mind allows you to make conscious contact with your Higher Self.
As you become more experienced and start getting used to meditation you can move on from guided forms and utilize more active and engaged meditations.
Staying awake will help you get the most out of it and ultimately give you a much deeper and fuller experience.