Falling asleep is one of the most common obstacles to meditation. Maybe you’re sitting at home when your eyes start rolling, and your head starts nodding. Maybe you’re at a meditation center when you find out you’ve been snoring for the past two minutes.
If you want to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of meditation, you’ll need to stay alert. Study these tips so you can apply them the next time you begin to feel drowsy when you’re on your cushion.
GETTING ADEQUATE SLEEP BEFORE YOU MEDITATE
Nodding off as soon as you sit down is a sure sign of sleep deprivation, and the issue is widespread. Almost 80% of Americans are getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, according to a study commissioned by Dr. Oz.
The ultimate solution to staying awake during meditation is getting enough sleep on a regular basis:
Be consistent. One of the most effective sleep hygiene routines is going to bed and waking at the same time each day. Stick to your schedule as much as possible even on weekends.
Adapt your bedroom. Block out distracting background noises and lights. Buy a new mattress or pillow if your old ones make you toss and turn.
Manage stress. Anxiety can keep you up at night. If meditation is the only time you relax enough to sleep, it may be more constructive to take a nap instead of trying to force yourself to stay awake.
STAYING ALERT WHILE YOU MEDITATE
Being well-rested will take care of most of your troubles with snoozing during meditation.
If you need extra help, try these tips:
Open your eyes. Most forms of meditation recommend keeping your eyes slightly open and looking down with a soft focus. If that makes you doze off, try keeping your eyes wide open at least temporarily.
Check your posture. Sitting up straight on the floor or on a chair instead of slouching will enable you to breathe deeper and feel more energized. It also helps to lift your head slightly.
Find your peak time. Is there a time of day when you usually feel more productive? Switch your sessions to first thing in the morning or late afternoon if that’s when you’re in top form.
Walk around. Meditate on your feet. You can make walking meditation your main activity if you’re starting out or use it to supplement your seated practice on those days when you feel especially tired.
Join others. Sitting with a group provides extra stimulation. You may also want to avoid the embarrassment of having someone else wake you up.
Go online. Even if you’re meditating solo, you can find some company on the internet. Browse online for guided meditations you can listen to if your own thoughts are putting you to sleep. You can also watch videos with pleasant images that will keep you engaged.
Turn up the lights. Bright lights trigger hormonal changes that make it easier to stay focused. Sit down in a well-lit room or go outside on a sunny day.
Cool off. Similarly, colder temperatures are bracing. Turn down the thermostat at home or take off your sweater.
Eat light. What you consume counts too. Heavy meals and dehydration are likely to make you want to go to bed. Before meditating, enjoy a small snack like fruit or a green salad. Drink plenty of water or tea.
Reduce stress and increase your mindfulness by creating a regular meditation practice. Developing positive sleep habits and making a few adjustments in your environment can help you meditate without falling asleep.