How long should you meditate before bed? The common recommendation is 15 to 20 minutes if you are at an intermediate to more advanced level of meditation.
The immense benefits of meditation can be reaped even if you do just 10 minutes at a time.
The key aspect to benefiting from meditation lies not in the rest it gives you or in the silence but in the fact that your brain enters an altered state of consciousness.
This Theta state of mind well beyond just rest. It is a state of mind that is still a mystery to us from a scientific point of view but the benefits of it is slowly starting to emerge in numerous scientific studies.
Meditation is like exercise.
How much you need or how long you need to do it is all relative.
Meditating before bed time is a popular time for most working people but it also comes with the danger that you may fall asleep or struggle to switch off from the day’s stressful activities.
The Right Amount of Time To Meditate Before Bed Time
Whether you are on a spiritual journey, looking to manifest your best life or just somewhat interested in improving your life then you undoubtedly know about meditation.
This ancient spiritual practice has found its way into the western world and even into western medicine in the last 10 years.
While spiritual teachers, yogi’s and numerous ancient cultures knew about the benefits of meditation of centuries, science is only now catching on.
In the last 5 years, there have been dozens of studies by top universities and researchers into the science of meditation and the effects it has on the mind and body.
According to research, the recommended amount of time to meditate is 20 minutes.
There are a lot of if’s and but’s connected to that time frame of 20 minutes and we will discuss that a bit later.
The 20 minutes is the average time that it takes for the brain (according to EEG studies) to ‘level out’ at the Delta state of mind.
Most people who have a job and a busy life, the best times to meditate are before work and after work.
This usually translates to a time for meditation when you first wake up and a time for meditation just before bed time.
How long should you meditate before bed time or when you first wake up?
The recommended 20 minutes is certainly a good goal but it is by no means set in stone.
1. Beginners May Struggle
In some ways, meditation is a skill. It’s not hard but it does require consistent effort to learn how to sit still and to be still.
We live in a world with so many distractions and very few people seem to be able to be quiet by themselves for more than 10 minutes.
When you first start meditating, 5 minutes will feel like an hour.
Your mind will fight you every step of the way. Doing the recommended 20 minutes may be excruciating for you.
How long should you meditate before bed if you are a beginner? Doing 2 to 3 5-minute sessions is probably the best way to start training your mind.
2. The 20 Minutes is a Clinical Guide
The recommended 20 minutes for meditation is a rough time limit that most meditation practitioners go by because it represents a ‘good’ time frame and allows you 5 to 10 minutes to settle down and still have enough time in the Theta state of mind to benefit from it.
Transcendental Meditation, as well as Mindfulness Meditation, recommend 40 minutes of meditation a day but most of the time this is split into 2 sessions.
Where meditation is practised in clinical settings the optimal time frame is usually 20 minutes and is often lead by someone – which makes it a bit easier to stay focussed for that amount of time.
3. Practise Changes Your Goals
When you first start practising meditation it is a bit like starting to train for a marathon if you haven’t run in 10 years.
It’s really hard to force yourself to put your shoes on and get yourself out the door.
Usually, when you hit the road you are fine and you slowly get in the groove. As you get fitter and stronger you start enjoying it. Soon you start to love it and before you know it you crave the running.
I went 3 years without missing a single day of running.
Meditation is just like that.
At first, it is tough. You most likely won’t be able to do more than 5 minutes before wanting to reach for your phone or some distraction.
Once you get ‘fitter and stronger’ and you really experience the bliss it becomes something you crave.
It’s no longer a chore or something that you feel you ‘have to do’.
As you get better and better you will soon be able to reach a meditate state much faster. You will also be able to remain in that state for longer.
There is no limit to how ‘deep’ you can go in meditation. Those who reach very high states of consciousness through meditation often spend an hour or more at a time in meditation.
While the recommended 20 minutes may well be ‘enough’ it really depends on your level and ultimately on what you want to achieve through meditation.
How long should you meditate before bed if you are more experienced? The short answer is that you should go as long as you can without falling asleep.
Why You Should Not Meditate Before Bed Time
The main reason why you should not meditate before bed time is the fact that you can easily fall asleep.
Meditation and sleep are not the same.
There are similarities in terms of rest, but during meditation, the brain enters a different state than it does during sleep.
The brain experiences a relaxed attention that monitors our inner experiences.
Meditation does not really quiet the mind as many people promote. The mind is still active. The difference is on what the mind pays attention to.
During meditation, the mind moves beyond everyday awareness of thoughts and feelings.
If you had a long stressful day and you finished your workday with a big meal you may be very challenged if you want to put in 20 minutes of meditation before bed time.
You most likely will fall asleep.
The other big issues with meditation before bed time is if you had a rough day.
Sometimes it can be incredibly hard to switch off if you had 8 hours of go-go-go.
So, how long you should meditate before bedtime is just one part of the problem. Having a good routine can really help you get over most of the issues.
The Best Meditation and Bed Time Routine
We are all different and respond to stress, food and sleep in different ways. You and only you know yourself.
If you are serious about meditation and really want to tap into the magic of what meditation can do in your life then you might want to reconsider your bed time routine.
Here’s what I would recommend based on what worked for me.
- When you finished with work for the day, be finished. Once you switch your computer off then switch your work off in your mind too.
- Do something different than work after work. Exercise is by far the most effective way to reset your mind.
- If you need a big meal, have it over lunch. Make dinner a light and healthy meal. Big heavy meals will make you sleepy.
- Avoid the TV. Splonging out in front of Netflix for 3 hours is not a great strategy. The kind of stuff the TV feeds your mind is not constructive. Spend an hour reading something inspiring or uplifting.
- Spend time with someone who makes you happy. Taking an hour of your evening and just being with someone you love and who makes you happy recharges your batteries.
- Set a specific time for meditation every evening. From 9 to 9:30 I set aside for meditation. Sometimes it went for longer sometimes it’s A struggle to make it to 30 minutes but this time frame does not change.
- Make sure you have at least 30 minutes between meditation and bed time. This ensures that you don’t confuse mediation time with sleep. You will be far less likely to fall asleep.
How long should you meditate before bed time? However long you can – proving you stay awake and you are able to reach that meditate state.
With practice, it gets easier and often time just 10 minutes of meditation can benefit you immensely – especially on days where you are pressed for time.
I find that the biggest thing is to actually make the time to do it. Schedule it and plan it in. Make it as important as eating dinner or brushing your teeth.
In the end, 10 minutes of meditation will get you much further than an extra 10 minutes of sleep.