Body scan meditation for a good night’s sleep



One of the most practical uses of the body scan meditation technique is to help you go to sleep, sleep more soundly and allow you to go back to sleep should you awake.



One of the possible inhibitors to falling asleep, staying asleep and going back to sleep can be stressful situations during the day that drive agitating thought patterns which trigger you physiologically, releasing adrenaline that increases our heart rate and blood pressure which can keep you awake.


When you are doing a body scan your attention is focused on present moment physical sensations.  Because your full attention is on a physical sensation, you are distracted from your anxiety producing thoughts.   If you can focus long enough the thoughts and the emotions associated with them will eventually stop. When the thoughts slow down the mental anguish eases that allows the body to relax.   If you consciously focus on relaxing the muscles it will produce an additional soothing and calming impact.

Body Scan – instructions

  • Lie on your back with your hands to your sides.
  • Do not move.  Just lying still has a very relaxing impact.
  • You should feel comfortable. You should neither be too cold nor too hot.
  • If you are comfortable, allow your eyes to close.
  • Breath long, slow and deep for at least two minutes.
  • Allow your lungs to fill completely and to empty completely.   It may help if you pause between breaths.
  • Slowly go through each part of your body in detail.

For Each part of the body

  • Focus on it.
  • Relax it.
  • Feel the sensations in that part of the body.
  • If you don’t feel anything that is OK, just continue to focus on it.
  • Notice as you relax and focus you will become more sensitive to the sensations and feel them strongly.
  • Be curious about each part of the body.
  • Can you feel the air on your skin?  Is there a tingling sensation?
  • Continue to breath long slow and deep for as many breaths as you can.

When you have completed the body scan

  • Feel your whole body relax.
  • Imagine that your body is so light that it will float.
  • You can repeat the process again or try one of the other approaches below.

Goal vs Process

  • Treat this technique as a process that helps you relax.
  • If your goal is to fall asleep you might be frustrated if you fail to go to sleep. Consider the body scan a process that allows you to relax and improve your concentration even if you don’t fall asleep.

Other inhibitors to sleep besides stress.

  • You may notice that some drinks like coffee can impact your sleep. If you are having trouble falling asleep it might be due to what you have had to drink or eat.
  • If you are in pain the body scan might help but if the pain is severe you may need medications.

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    Other options – for sleep

    Both of these counting techniques help you go to sleep because it forces you to focus your attention on counting and takes your mind off of whatever thoughts are driving your emotions.   Doing the counting with the long slow breath has a relaxing effect.

    Option 1 – Backwards from 100

    • First start breathing long slow and deep to relax your body.
    • Start counting backwards from 100 by 3’s. 100, 97,94 etc.
      • If you don’t make any mistakes you should end up at 1.
      • If you don’t end up at one see if you can openly accept your little mistake without judging or blaming yourself.
    • Take a long slow and deep breath for each count
    • The outbreath should be longer than the in-breath.

    Option 2

    • Start Counting backwards from 40.
    • On the even count breathe in and on the odd count breathe out.
    • 40 in, 39 out, 38 in, 37 out etc. until 20
    • From 20 to 0 count backwards and there is a full breath for each count. 20 in and out, 19 in and out etc.

    Insight Timer

    Click on the this link while in your iPhone and it will bring up the App in the app store. It is free.

    After the Insight Timer app is loaded and you look a this email on your smart phone
    Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation & Sleep. by Casey Conerly – click on this link



    • One possible sequence:
    • Right Hand thumb,
    • second finger,
    • third finger,
    • fourth finger,
    • fifth finger,
    • palm of your right hand,
    • back of your right hand,
    • wrist,
    • forearm,
    • upper arm,
    • right shoulder,
    • right hip,
    • thigh,
    • hamstring,
    • knee,
    • calf,
    • ankle,
    • heel of the right foot,
    • Repeat for the left side of your body.
    • Your neck,
    • your jaws,
    • your tongue,
    • your eyebrows,
    • your eyelids,
    • your forehead.
    • The top of your head.