I fall asleep within moments of hitting the pillow these days, but it hasn’t always been so easy. I’ve struggled with insomnia during various stages of life, and there’s one remedy, that’s both free and without side effects, that I’ve fallen back on time and time again: mantra.
“I’m thankful for this time to rest” is a mantra and a mentality that has truly saved my sanity on more than one occasion.
What Exactly Is “Mantra” Anyway?
Mantra is a Sanskrit word, which can be translated as “mind release.” The practice of mantra involves repeating a particular sound, phrase, prayer or word over and over again, to aid in concentration and meditation.
Overarousal of the mind is often the culprit when it comes to difficulty falling asleep (or back to sleep), so anything that slows brain activity and moves us toward a more dreamy, meditative state is going to be a sleep aid. In other words, relaxing the mind through mantra can create an internal environment conducive to sleep.
How to Use Mantra For Better Sleep
LET GO, TO SLEEP
Sleep does not respond to pressure. The more we crave it, and the more we command our body and mind to succumb, the less likely we are to get a taste of the elusive slumber we so very much crave. This is the great irony and frustration of sleep — it cannot be willed.
In our achievement-driven society, most of us find this truth to be quite dissatisfying. The greater the desire and the harder the work, the greater the likelihood of success, right? Well, wrong — when it comes to sleep. Contrary to the mindset we embrace as we push toward our goals, drifting off to sleep is all about letting go. Letting go of the push, letting go of our day, letting go of our constant stream of thoughts, letting go of our go-go-go-minds and our desire for control, and allowing our dreamy state of consciousness to bubble to the surface.
As we learn to loosen our craving for sleep, we allow sweet slumber to find us, rather than us desperately pining for it. Mantra is a simple and accessible tool to help calm down our brainwave activity and facilitate our “letting go”
MY FAVORITE MANTRA FOR SLEEP
“I’m thankful for this time to rest.”
Gratitude plus an invitation to rest the body – you can’t beat this combination when it comes to a pro-positivity and pro-sleep frame of mind. You may not sleep all night, but you can definitely rest!
SAMPLE SLEEP MANTRAS FOR PARENTS
If a statement or positive affirmation such as the above feels too tedious, you could try the mantra:
I rest. I rest. I rest.
Or even more simply,
Rest. Rest. Rest.
Or, perhaps the word peace or calm resonates more with you than rest. For example, “I am thankful for this peace,” or “I am peaceful,” or “Peace. Peace. Peace.” or “Calm. Calm. Calm.”
CHOOSING A SLEEP MANTRA THAT WORKS
Truly, any positive statement, prayer, sound, or word can be an effective mantra at bedtime. By repeating your mantra as you lay in bed, you’ll release your tired mind of its tireless preoccupations.
Combat Parental Sleep Deprivation With a Sleep Mantra
When I crawl into bed, and take notice of my cozy sheets and blanket, comfortable mattress, and my general satisfaction with the fact that no one needs me at that particular moment, I truly feel grateful for the opportunity to rest. Couple that with “I am thankful for this time to rest” as a mantra, and sleep tends to find its way to me in my comfortable bed…pretty quickly, in fact.
When you use a sleep mantra, you’ll let go of your fixation on sleep as a goal, and allow your attention to focus elsewhere. You’ll also set yourself up for a win, because the goal with mantra is simple: repeat the mantra and don’t sweat it if your mind wanders — just bring your attention back to the mantra whenever you notice that it’s drifted elsewhere.
As your mind wanders, and you bring it back to your mantra, you’ve also strengthened your power concentration. You’ve infused your subconscious with positivity, activated the parasympathetic nervous system, and created an internal environment more conducive to sleep. All of that while just laying in bed!
Fall Asleep Faster
So tonight, how about making your goal mantra and relaxation, rather than sleep? Take the pressure off of yourself! And well, to put it bluntly, you simply can’t force sleep no matter how hard you try, so what’s the point? Plus, the benefits of repeating a mantra are profound, and far healthier stressing, tossing, and turning. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll fall asleep before you get a chance to realize that you’ve reached your goal of relaxation.
Sleep Mantra FAQs
CAN MANTRA HELP MY BABY AND CHILD(REN) SLEEP BETTER TOO?
You bet your sweet sleep it can! Mantra is an awesome tool for activating the parasympathetic nervous system (aka the Chillax Mechanism). And when we’re calmer, our babies are too. Studies show that children mimic their caregivers’ emotions. So when you’re anxious or frustrated, your child absorbs this crappy emotional energy. When you’re peaceful and chillaxed, they absorb this too. Scientists call this phenomenon neuroregulation. Do you want your baby to absorb the chillax or the crazy? Mantra can help!
Try repeating a mantra or affirmation as you snuggle at the end of the bedtime routine, or as you lay your little one down for sleep.
DO I HAVE TO REPEAT THE MANTRA OUT LOUD?
While chanting aloud can be especially impactful (via stimulation of the vagus nerve, if you want to go deeper into the science), mantra, whether it’s silent, recited, whispered, or chanted at full blast, is a powerful tool. So if you’re concerned about being heard, or you’re too damn tired to chant, feel free to do so in your head. But I urge you to try chanting aloud sometime — your baby will love it, your kiddos might just leave you alone, and if you have a co-parent or partner, they can deal or join — because the feeling of the mantra vibrating through your body can be a natural high that all parents deserve to experience.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER MANTRAS I COULD TRY?
Any positive statement, prayer, sound, or word can be an effective mantra at bedtime. Don’t get too hung up on picking the right sound or words.
“It’s time to let go.”
“Each breath relaxes me more.”
“I welcome rest into my mind and body.”
“All is well and I’m at peace.”
Liz Harden, MPH, believes that every human deserves stellar sleep. As a sleep coach for more than nine years, Liz leads Little Dipper Sleep – a sleep coaching practice based in Chapel Hill, NC, serving clients worldwide. She and her team provide flexible, inclusive, evidence-based sleep coaching packages, programs, and classes to parents of kiddos, from newborns through elementary school and beyond. Known for creating the Mindful Method for SleepTM, Liz’s process equips parents with the mindset tools and scientific insight they need to thrive and confidently set the stage for peaceful naptimes and bedtimes.
She shaped this approach with her Masters in Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, a certification from the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, multiple certifications in yoga (including kids yoga), and years working with The Baby Sleep Site and Huckleberry, the expert sleep app. Today, as an advocate for all tired humans, Liz is passionate about helping all families discover the magic of stellar sleep regardless of income level or background.
Liz currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband and two kiddos who sleep well now but definitely didn’t come by it naturally. Her family also includes two ducks, Fluffy and Daffy, whose quacking thankfully doesn’t keep everybody awake.