Whether you’re new to meditation or a seasoned pro, the mere thought of it may conjure up an image of an upright, blissed-out instructor sitting still for hours on end. This picture-perfect idea can feel inaccessible for many of us—and might even be intimidating enough to dissuade you from picking up or continuing the practice. However, you don’t need to be serene and statuesque to meditate—or even stay seated, for that matter.
Enter: meditating in bed. Below, see why it’s not only okay to meditate while lying down, but also beneficial for your mind, sleep, and general well-being.
Can You Meditate Lying Down?
It’s absolutely fine to meditate while lying down, says Peloton yoga and meditation instructor Kirra Michel. While the standard upright, cross-legged lotus meditation position (or another seated variation) can help some stay grounded and focused, it’s not necessarily the superior pose. (It's also not the only posture to provide all of meditation’s benefits.)
“The mind does tend to be more alert and active when we are in an upright position. That’s one of the reasons meditation is usually taught in a seated position,” Kirra explains. That said, sitting up certainly isn’t a practice must-do.
“Meditation is not limited to any one posture,” Kirra clarifies. “You can still meditate lying down, and even while walking.” Many yoga classes even end with savasana, aka corpse pose, in which you lie down to rest, recover, and reap the full mind-body benefits of your physical practice.
Long story short? It’s absolutely okay to meditate in bed—and there are even some benefits that come along with it.
Benefits of Meditating in Bed
Meditating while lying down is accessible for everyone, from complete novices to meditation masters. It’s especially attractive for those who build up pain or tension in the body (like the neck, back, or hips) while sitting for long or even short periods of time. If the thought of staying still and seated is enough to keep you away from meditating at all, know that reclining in a supine position—yes, even in bed—is totally fair game.
“If you are in a lot of physical discomfort or even pain while in an upright meditation seat, or have trouble sitting comfortably for the entire length of the meditation, lying down is a great alternative,” Kirra shares. “If you are in physical pain while meditating, it’ll be hard to allow your mind to focus on anything but the pain. Lying down in a comfortable, sustainable position will help [you] relax and focus, allowing you to potentially get deeper into your meditation.”
For some, meditating in bed may also feel more approachable than getting set up in an upright position, making it easier to get started.
How to Meditate in Bed
If you choose to meditate in bed, chances are you’ll either try to relax or try to sleep. Or, if you’re like me, you may meditate upon waking up to start your morning in a mindful, calming manner before downing your first cup of coffee and tackling your daily tasks.
Below, check out the types of meditation that are great to practice in bed, the perks of practicing them, and tips to situate yourself for success.
Meditating in Bed for Relaxation
“Lying down is obviously recommended for a sleep meditation or yoga nidra practice, [as] both require the body to fully relax,” Kirra says. For reference, yoga nidra is an ancient tantric technique with the ultimate goal being complete relaxation, rather than focus or contemplation.
Clinical studies demonstrate the diverse benefits of yoga nidra, such as:
Improvements in red blood cell counts and blood glucose levels
Relief from mild depression and anxiety
But yoga nidra isn’t the only practice great for meditating in bed. “Any meditation can be practiced lying down—including calming meditations, body scans, and more,” Kirra continues. With your body and mind at ease, you’ll be able to tap into the experience more deeply and comfortably to successfully benefit from your practice.
According to a 2018 review in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, mindfulness meditation at large has the power to positively influence mental health and cognition by:
Transforming negative thought patterns and maladaptive behaviors
Reducing emotional reactivity
Want to get started? To meditate in bed for the purpose of relaxing, Kirra suggests:
Lying on your back with feet about hips’ distance apart, placing your hands a few inches away from your body with palms facing up.
Making sure your body is supported in a way that feels sustainable and comfortable. “If you need a pillow under your head or neck, [use] it,” she advises.
You can also reach for other props as needed. “If your back feels any pain when lying down with legs extended, try putting a pillow, a bolster, or blocks under your knees or calves.”
Also good to know: Unless you’re meditating in bed at night with the specific intention to catch your Zzzs (more on that below), Kirra advises you try your best not to drift off to sleep. Of course, you can meditate on your own, but many people find it helpful to listen to guided meditations, such as those available on the Peloton App. For non-sleep meditations, instructors will helpfully cue when it’s time to open your eyes and resume your day, providing the built-in benefit of preventing unintentional snoozing.
Mediating in Bed for Better Sleep
Meditating in bed with the goal of falling asleep may entail a slightly different protocol. “Some meditations help give us energy, [while] others help us cultivate certain qualities such as kindness or empathy—but sleep meditations are geared toward truly calming the body down, quieting the mind, and setting the stage for sleep,” said Peloton yoga and meditation instructor Kristin McGee previously.
Guided sleep meditations may also have hazier tones, music to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the nerves that help you relax), or specific cues to help lull yourself to sleep. Plus, you’re absolutely encouraged to drift off into dreamland before the meditation ends.
To meditate in bed for better sleep, try following snooze-friendly standards like:
Setting up a cool, dark, and quiet bedroom environment
Tucking yourself in under your bedding
Lying down in your preferred sleeping position
Staying active during the day may also complement a sleep-focused meditation practice, as exercise and meditation can be the perfect pairing for better sleep. According to a 2020 randomized control trial in the journal Sleep Health, healthy adults new to exercising or meditation experienced significant, lasting improvements in sleep quality within eight weeks of starting either practice. (Just imagine the one-two punch from including both in your wellness regimen.)
That said, you may experience relief from insomnia or poor sleep after meditating for a shorter time frame—even as little as two weeks, as one writer discovered after completing Peloton’s Power of Sleep program.
For those who find seated meditations intimidating, fussy, or uncomfortable, meditating in bed is a surefire way to reap the rewards of the mindfulness practice with ease. Whether you choose to tune into a guided meditation upon rising, for a midday reset, or as a soothing pre-sleep ritual, rest assured that lying down is neither wrong nor ill-advised. So lie back, relax, and allow yourself to meditate on your own terms—and even better, in the comfort of your own bed.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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