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What To Do If You Keep Falling Asleep While Meditating

Do you keep falling asleep during meditation? Does it feel like every time you sit down to finally find some peace and quiet you’re always nodding off?

If so, then these tips are for you. In this post I’ll give a few suggestions to help you stop falling asleep while meditating, and start focusing your awareness to enjoy a deeper feeling of joy, peace, and connected concentration.

Is Falling Asleep While Meditating Bad?

Not necessarily.

Some meditation practices, like yoga nidra and other guided sleep meditations, are specifically designed to lull you to sleep.

Not only that, but all meditation aims at helping you to slow down your brain-waves, in order to enter a deep state of relaxation. This is the same process that happens as you drift off to sleep at night, so it’s no wonder that many people have trouble staying awake during their meditation practice.

That said, if you’re sleeping, you well…aren’t meditating.

The goal is to learn how to find the line between a deep, almost hypnotic state of relaxation, and sleep. You want to be conscious enough that you are aware of everything around you, including the thoughts running through your mind, but relaxed enough that you feel detached from your thoughts and environment.

If you always fall asleep while meditating, try the following tips.

How To Stop Nodding Off During Meditation

  1. Try a Different Posture. The first tip to try when you notice you start falling asleep in meditation is to change your posture. It might sound strange, but getting too comfortable can actually be a hindrance. The goal is to find a balance between comfort and alertness, so try sitting up straight on the edge of a chair or sitting cross-legged with a straight spine, rather than lounging back on the sofa. Read more about the best meditation poses.
  2. Don’t Lie Down. Sometimes, lying down during meditation is a wonderful, relaxing experience, and for many people it is a great way to help relax more deeply and quiet the mind. But, if you’re prone to drifting off, it’s probably not the best option for you.
  3. Don’t Meditate In The Bedroom. Similarly, meditating in bed can be an easy cause of unwittingly falling asleep. Our brains can and should associate your bed and even your entire bedroom with going to sleep, so in some cases using your bedroom as a meditation space can cause your body to enter into a habitual shut-down mode. Again, sometimes this is ok, but the key is to find the right balance.
  4. Do Some Light Exercise Before You Meditate. Another option is to do some light exercise before you meditate. There’s a reason that people do yoga before shavasana: the movement helps to move blood through your body and brain, so you can’t focus and relax without feeling tired. If yoga isn’t for you, try doing a few pushups or jumping jacks before you sit down.
  5. Experiment with New Breath Techniques. The type of meditation you experience is closely linked to your breath. If you’re tired, try working with breath techniques designed to awaken your body and mind. For example, It’s all but impossible to nod off while you’re doing Kapalabhati or Bhramari breath.
  6. Don’t Meditate After a Large Meal. We all know the feeling of fatigue that comes with eating a large, heavy meal. To have the best and most focused practice, you want to keep a lighter diet, and schedule your time on the mat to be before, not after you eat.
  7. Practice a Walking Meditating. Not all meditation has to be seated. You can get just as much benefit from doing a walking meditation practice outside in the park as you can from sitting comfortably at home.
  8. Listen to a Guided Recording. Guided recordings are all about finding the right fit for you. With or without music, listening to someone else’s voice can often keep your mind just alert enough to it stays awake, but peaceful enough so that you aren’t overwhelmed by your own thoughts. Click here to start our daily meditation series.
  9. Use Uneven Breath Counts. One of my favorite practices for focusing during meditation is to use uneven breath counts. This keeps your mind active, helping you to concentrate more fully, and keeping you consciously aware of your breath. Try this 4-7-8 breath technique to get started.
  10. Catch Up On Real Sleep. Lastly, if you always nod off during meditation, it could be a symptom of chronic fatigue. Take the time you need to replenish your sleep, and don’t force your body to stay awake if it is giving you clear signs you need more rest. If this becomes a chronic issue, you may need to consult your physician to ensure it isn’t a symptom of a medical condition.

Kyle Greenfield

Kyle Greenfield is the Founder and CEO of The Joy Within, where our mission is to help you win the fight against stress and negativity by harnessing the power of your natural, inner joy. Kyle has been teaching on meditation, mindfulness, and how to eliminate negative thoughts since 2016. He currently resides in London. You can follow Kyle on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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