A few of my articles have discussed when it’s best to meditate. However, I’ve received some feedback that leads me to believe there is still some confusion on the topic. So, I figured I should clarify the point a bit, especially when it comes to meditation and sleep.
This is from another article I wrote:
“The best time to meditate is shortly after waking, preferably between 5am and 7am. While some people jump out of bed and go meditate, I have a habit of doing a couple of minor physical activities, such as making my bed, so my body knows that I’m awake and doesn’t want to fall asleep again in meditation.
“Many traditions recommend meditating twice per day. If that is the case with your technique, the next best time to meditate is early evening, preferably between 5pm and 7pm.
“Don’t try to meditate just before bed. Using meditation as a tool to fall asleep is counterproductive. If you do this, your body will associate meditation with sleep and you’ll have a VERY hard time staying awake long enough to complete the practice.”
You want your meditation practice to become just that—a regular practice, distinct from any other activity. Over time, you’ll find that your body and mind become accustomed to the practice, making it easier for you to enter a meditative state quickly.
Meditating at the same time every day, in the same place every day, and in the same sitting position every day are just a few of the habits that can help your body learn that it’s time to meditate.
When you meditate right before bedtime, however, you’re likely to fall asleep. Your body already associates lying down in general with sleeping, so you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not meditating in a sitting position. Your body also knows when it’s bedtime, so if you lie down (even if you sit down) and close your eyes around bedtime, you are probably going to fall asleep before you conclude your meditation.
Since we know that meditation and sleep are not the same thing and that meditation provides its own enormous set of benefits, you’re sabotaging your own practice if you set yourself up to fall asleep during every meditation.
The other downside to meditating right before sleep—even if you can stay awake every time—is that meditation tends to make your mind clearer and more alert. Many of my students tell me that they feel much clearer mentally and more physically energized after completing their morning meditation. In fact, many wouldn’t miss that early morning appointment with themselves because it prepares them for their day, sharpening their minds and increasing their stamina.
In conclusion, remember that not all bodies are the same. I give the best meditation advice I can, but in the end you know yourself better than I do. Whatever time you choose to meditate will likely be the best time for you.
I hope this has been a helpful article for those who have expressed confusion about timing their meditation.
Enjoy, and happy meditating!