Headspace has made a name for itself as a meditation app, but it’s also great for sleep. The free version has “sleep-casts,” which are 45-55 minute-long audio experiences (kind of like adult bedtime stories) that help you visualize calming experiences, like a slow moving train or a walk through a garden. There are new stories every night, so you you’ll never get bored. If you upgrade to the paid version, you’ll get access to more than 40 themed meditation courses (like for sleep and stress), plus many more sleep-cast and music options to help you wind down.
This super simple app lets you choose from a bunch of different sounds (like thunder, wind, white noise, and even the buzz of a coffee shop) to create your ideal sleep soundtrack. You can create a combo of sounds you love that you can save in the app for future use. Pro tip: If you’re using it overnight, keep your phone plugged in—otherwise, you may wake up to a dead battery.
With Pzazz, you can set a timer for the length of sleep session so it plays a soothing dreams cape (read: combo of music, voice overs, and sound effects) while you snooze; then, you can wake up to the built-in alarm. You’ll need to upgrade for more advanced features, like the ability to choose different sounds, but the app offers a seven-day free trial.
Slumber offers a combination of experiences to help you fall asleep, whether it’s meditation focused, a six-part bedtime story series, or the sound of a warm Jacuzzi. You can also choose a background noise (like rain or the ocean) to play for up to 10 hours after the main track ends. New sleep-inducing stories and meditations are added each week, and you can listen to them all if you upgrade to the premium version (otherwise, you can get many episodes for free).
Calm’s app is super easy to use, and the Sleep Stories section has bedtime stories (for kids and adults!) read aloud by people with soothing voices, including celebrities like Matthew McNaughton. Only a few stories are included for free, but getting a subscription unlocks a huge library of meditations made specifically for sleep — plus categories like stress and ASMR!
If you want to learn how you slept, the Sleep Cycle app is for you. It tracks your sleep patterns and provides tips to optimize your snooze time. Plus, it has a an alarm clock that gently wakes you up when you’re in your lightest sleep phase so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Just keep in mind that no sleep tracker is 100 percent accurate so if you’re really struggling with your sleep, you may need to see a dedicated sleep specialist.
Ten percent happier
If you still haven’t found a sleep app that works for you, 10% Happier is worth a shot. It offers a wide range of meditations — including ones for sleep — that range from three minutes to 45 minutes to help you relax and fall asleep. There are also meditation courses spanning a variety of genres and the option to message a coach for extra support.
20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia
Do you have trouble sleeping at night, or suffer from insomnia? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 30 to 40 percent of adults have difficulty sleeping, and 10 to 15 percent suffer from chronic insomnia.
You know what it feels like to not get enough sleep… The next day you feel lethargic, have trouble focusing, and lack motivation. But, did you know that insomnia can have more serious health consequences?
Chronic insomnia can put you at greater risk of various medical conditions, such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a weak immune system that can leave you vulnerable to diseases. It puts you at greater risk of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Insomnia can affect your memory, judgment, and sex drive. It can even shorten your life expectancy.
The good news is that in most cases, there are some simple solutions. In this article, we’re going to focus on guided meditations for sleep. I’ve reviewed several meditations available on YouTube, and provided you with my top 20 picks.
But before I give you the list, I think it’s a good idea to give you a better understanding of the nature of insomnia. This will give you a better idea of which guided meditations for sleep will work best for you, and can improve their effectiveness.
Causes of Insomnia
There are various causes of insomnia. They can be either a medical condition, psychological problems, stress and anxiety, or simply lifestyle.
Medical conditions can include allergies, stomach and intestinal problems, chronic pain, lower back pain, breathing problems, and more. If you have one of these problems, or suspect another medical condition may be keeping you awake, I suggest consulting with your physician.
Psychological problems, mainly depression, are common causes of insomnia. Depression leads to changes in mood, which can affect hormone balance, and therefore, lead to difficulty sleeping. Studies have also shown that insomnia can make depression worse.
Stress and anxiety are also common causes of insomnia. We often ruminate about the past, and worry about the future. Sometimes, we may feel stressed out and overwhelmed by our responsibilities. And sometimes, it is just our overstimulated mind that is keeping us awake.
For some people, lifestyle can be a cause of insomnia. Some people work odd hours that make it difficult to keep a normal sleep pattern, or get enough sleep. Sometimes, they don’t have enough time to unwind before they go to bed.
Food and diet can also affect your sleep. A heavy meal or empty stomach can make it difficult to sleep. It’s a good idea to have a light snack before bed, something that is low in sugar, as too much sugar in your bloodstream can give you a feeling of anxiety.
Alcohol, while it can help you fall asleep, will actually disrupt your sleep later in the night. Too much caffeine, or drinking it too late, can also make it difficult to sleep. Nicotine is another substance that can disrupt your sleep.
How Meditation Can Help
Although insomnia can have several causes, the good news is that meditation can help in various ways. The main way that meditation can help you sleep better is by reducing stress and anxiety. The way it works is rather simple. Meditation helps calm your thoughts, and by calming your thoughts, you reduce the feelings associated with those thoughts.
Meditation can calm just about any racing mind. But it would help to reduce some of the things that are overstimulating your mind, such as too many activities, and excessive background noise. Basically, any sensory stimulation will create a chain of thoughts, and if your day is filled with activities and noise, then your mind is being overstimulated.
For the most part, meditation is a break from sensory stimulation. While the guided meditations for sleep have music and a voice to guide you, the sounds are slow and soothing, which help slow your mind down.
Meditation is a powerful antidote for depression. Studies have shown that when done properly, it can be just as effective as antidepressant medication. If you suffer from depression and want to try meditation as an alternate treatment, be sure to consult with your doctor first.
Meditation can even help address some of the physical causes of insomnia. Studies have shown that meditation can ease physical pain, especially lower back pain.
20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep
Here are 20 guided meditations for sleep. They are divided into 4 categories:
- Deep relaxation
- Binaural beats
- Unguided meditation
I divided them to give you a selection of the different types available.
It’s not clear which type of meditation is more effective than others at helping you sleep. While they’re all intended to help you sleep better, they have slightly different goals, and mechanisms for aiding your sleep. Based on the explanations and descriptions below, you can choose the one(s) that suits you best.
The meditations vary in duration. Some are under an hour, while others are several hours long. Most have guiding words at the beginning, which eventually fade out, leaving you with soft soothing music to help you drift off to sleep.
You can listen to them as long as you want as you lie down to sleep, or you can even play them while you sleep. This is more a matter of preference.
As the term suggests, the deep relaxation meditations will help you calm your body and mind. They generally use a body scan to relax each body part, and the soothing voice and background music help calm your thoughts.
When listening to the meditations, keep in mind that relaxing the body and mind is a process. Don’t expect perfection. That is, it’s okay for your mind to wander off, or get distracted. Instead of forcing your body and mind to relax, just ‘allow’ them to relax.
1. Guided Meditation for Sleep… Floating Among the Stars (Jason Stephenson) (1 hr. 2 min.)
Jason Stephenson has some of the best quality meditations on YouTube. His voice is soothing, and he has the right choice of background music. His recordings have a good balance of music and voice volume. As the title suggests, this meditation gives you a sense of floating among the stars.
2. Guided Meditation – Blissful Deep Relaxation (The Honest Guys) (18.5 min.)
The Honest Guys also have good quality recordings. In this meditation, the music is soft and slow-moving, with gentle waves in the background. This is a relatively short meditation you can comfortably listen to right before you go to bed.
3. Fall Asleep So Fast: Guided sleep meditation (Lauren Ostrowski Fen-ton) (1 hr. 17 min.)
Lauren Ostrowski Fen ton has a soft and relaxing voice. The dreams-cape music pitch is well balanced with her voice. Her guided meditation has good positive affirmations that help improve self-esteem.
4. Guided Sleep Meditation – The Happiness of Your Higher Consciousness (Kim Carmen Walsh – Paradigm Meditations) (33 min.)
This recording by Kim Carmen Walsh is designed to help you recognize your own inner happiness. It then guides you into a deep and restorative sleep.
5. Cultivate Self Love While You Sleep: Affirmations For Self-Love Sleep Meditation (Guided Meditations with Nicky Sutton) (2 hrs)
This is a great meditation by Nicky Sutton. The music alone is warm and loving. Combined with her soft voice, the self-love affirmations really touch your heart.
Meditations with Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are a technique that triggers a slow-down in brain activity to make you sleepy. Here’s how it works: Your brain creates brainwaves from the pulses of electrical activity when the neurons interact with each other. Generally, higher frequencies of brainwaves are associated with higher levels of alertness, such as concentration. And lower frequencies are associated with lower levels of alertness, such as deep sleep.
Ingrained in the background music are two tones of slightly different frequencies, one in each ear. Your brain, instead of processing both tones, processes half of the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if you receive a 300-hertz tone in one ear, and a 280-hertz tone in the other ear, your brain will process a 10-hertz tone.
The two frequencies in the meditations are meant to slow down your brain activity for deep sleep. As you may have guessed, you need to listen to these meditations with headphones in order to get the desired effect.
Binaural beats have two more effects that benefit sleep: They raise sleep-promoting hormones. And they reduce pain that may be keeping you awake.
6. Perfect Deep Sleep: Talk-down with Delta Wave Isochronic Tones & Binaural Beats (The Honest Guys) (30 min.)
This is another good guided meditation for sleep by the Honest Guys. As with most of their meditations, it is short compared to most other meditations on YouTube. The music is slow, and the voice is soothing and relaxing.
7. Guided Meditation for Sleep and Healing with Binaural Beats and 3D sounds (Meditation Vacation) (40 min.)
The scene of this meditation is the beach at night with bonfire. Along with the dreams cape music, you can hear the sounds of the waves, and the crackling of an open fire. This meditation will promote healing while you sleep.
8. Deep Sleep Meditation with Affirmations: Unstoppable Courage, Confidence, & Inner Power | Delta Beats (Power Thoughts Meditation Club) (1 hr. 44 min.)
Here is a meditation that boosts your self-esteem. It will help you overcome your fears, so you can develop greater inner strength. The music is calm, the voice soothing, and the affirmations powerful. After a while, the voice fades out and the music helps you drift into a deep sleep.
9. Deep Sleep Guided Meditation: Relaxation Music – Delta Binaural Beat – Dissolve Overthinking (Power Thoughts Meditation Club) (1 hr.)
This is a guided meditation that will help you calm your racing mind. The slow soothing voice forces your mind to follow the slower pace. As with the previous guided meditation, the voice fades away after a few minutes.
10. Guided Meditation for a Deep Peaceful and Calm Sleep (Meditation Vacation) (47 min.)
This sleep meditation uses guided imagery to help calm your body and restless mind. The background music is slow and drifting.
Meditations with Hypnosis
Guided meditations with hypnosis are an effective way to reprogram your subconscious mind for a desired way of thinking or behavior. When we’re in a deep state of relaxation, our mind is more receptive to new information. So during meditation, it is an excellent time to assimilate positive affirmations that can improve the quality of your life.
These meditations will mainly help change your views about sleep. One is geared to facilitate healing, and another will help you deal with stress and anxiety.
11. Deep Sleep Hypnosis for Mind Body Spirit Cleansing (Rain & Music for Guided Dreams Self-Healing) (Michael Sealey) (1 hr. 30 min.)
Michael Sealey is one of the more popular guided meditation artists on YouTube, and for good reasons. The recordings are high quality, and use a good balance of the different elements to achieve the desired effect. This guided meditation uses soft music and guided imagery to promote inner healing while you sleep.
12. Sleep Talk-down Guided Meditation: Fall Asleep Faster with Sleep Music & Spoken Word Hypnosis (Jason Stephenson) (1 hr. 2 min.)
Here is another guided meditation by Jason Stephenson. This one uses hypnosis techniques to promote deep sleep. The music is soft, slow, and heartwarming. Since the voice fades out after a while, you can just start this meditation, and let it play as you drift off to sleep.
13. Guided Sleep Meditation (Let Go Of Stress, Anxiety) Sleep Hypnosis Meditation (Jason Stephenson) (50 min.)
This guided sleep meditation will help you reprogram your mind to release stress and anxiety. It uses guided imagery and soft relaxing music to calm your body and mind for more restful sleep.
14. Sleep Hypnosis Meditation Female Voice – Guided Meditation Sleep (Soothing Music Relaxing) (3 hrs.)
Though not as popular as most other guided meditations, this one uses a female voice and hypnosis techniques to guide you into a deep sleep. Her voice is soft and soothing, and the music is a slow dreamscape that gives you a feeling of floating on air.
15. Guided Meditation for Sleep. Hypnosis with Subconscious Programming To Fall Asleep (Guided Meditations with Nicky Sutton) (1 hr. 16 min.)
Here is another good meditation by Nicky Sutton. The first 18 minutes help you relax your body. Afterwards, the affirmations help reprogram your mind to go into a deep sleep.
Unguided Relaxation Meditations
Although this list of meditations is mainly of guided meditations for sleep, there are some excellent recordings of either just soothing music or sounds of nature, or a combination. Some nature sounds, such as ocean waves, are symbolic of relaxation. So when we hear those sounds, our subconscious mind will associate them with relaxation and sleep.
These are the type that you may just want to play softly in the background while you go to sleep.
16. “UNBLOCK ALL 7 CHAKRAS”: Aura Cleansing & Balancing Chakra (Meditation and Healing) (8 hrs.)
Nice heartwarming dreams cape music.
17. Dreams cape Music for Relaxation and Sleep (Peaceful Productions Studio) (8 hrs.)
Another recording of soft dreams cape music. This one uses Delta waves, the same frequency of brainwaves during deep sleep.
18. Deep Sleep Music: Ocean Waves and Relaxing Music (Soothing Relaxation) (3 hrs.)
This meditation combines relaxing music with ocean waves to lull you into a deep restful sleep.
19. Gentle Night Rain Sounds for Relaxing Sleep (The Relaxed Guy) (3 hrs.)
Some people like the sound of rain to help them relax. This recording is nothing but gentle rain.
20. Angelic Music with Affirmations for Sleeping & Healing (Jason Stephenson) (2 hrs)
This meditation is almost entirely heartwarming music with intermittent affirmations in a soft angelic voice.
How can meditation help with sleep?
When you meditate, a variety of physiological changes occur. These changes initiate sleep by influencing specific processes in your body.
For example, in a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine Trusted Source, researchers analyzed how mindfulness meditation affected 49 adults with moderate sleep issues. The participants were randomly assigned 6 weeks of meditation or sleep hygiene education. At the end of the study, the meditation group experienced fewer insomnia symptoms and less daytime fatigue.
According to the researchers, meditation likely helps in several ways. Sleep problems often stem from stress and worry, but meditation improves your relaxation response. It also improves control of the autonomic nervous system, which reduces how easily you’re awakened.