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What to Know About the Best Time to Meditate

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

A regular meditation practice can provide a lot of benefits, including less anxiety and more self-awareness. Setting aside time to meditate is the first step in developing a practice that will help you manage stress and improve your overall well-being. But you may wonder when you should meditate for the best results. 

Should you meditate in the morning, before you start your day, or in the evening, before you go to bed? Read on to find out the best time to meditate and for some tips to make the most of your meditation practice, whenever you do it. 

When Is the Best Time of Day to Meditate?

Ultimately, it doesn't matter when you meditate. Pick a time that works for you and stick to it. No matter what time you choose, meditating at the same time every day will help make it a habit. Here are a few tips to get started: 

First thing in the morning. There's a lot to be said for meditating when you wake up. By meditating before you have to deal with family and work responsibilities, you can set a positive tone for the rest of your day. Even if you can't fit in a full session in the morning, you'll get benefits from focusing on deep, slow breathing for just 5 minutes before you do anything else.

During your workday. If you can set aside some time during your lunch hour, the middle of the day can be a great time to meditate. You can refocus and boost your mood and attention for the rest of the workday. A midday break can also help you deal with difficult situations and colleagues that might leave you rattled otherwise. 

After work. Meditating after work can help you draw a firm boundary between home and office. It can refocus your attention on your home life so that you don't let thoughts of work intrude on your free time. 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Meditation Practice

To make the most of your meditation practice:

Find a comfortable position. You don't need to buy a special cushion to meditate, but you should find a comfortable position. You can meditate sitting up, lying down, or even moving around, but you should be able to relax in whatever position you choose. 

Choose a quiet spot. When you begin meditating, it will be easier to focus if you don't have distractions such as cell phones, loud noises, or children. Eventually, you may be able to meditate in a chaotic environment, but make it easy on yourself when you're getting started.  

Focus on your breathing. To help quiet your mind, start by focusing on your breathing. Slow your breathing and count as you inhale and exhale. This will help calm your mind and give you something to focus on besides intrusive thoughts. 

Bring an open mind. Meditation can be difficult, and you may feel like you're failing at times. It's important to keep a compassionate and accepting attitude towards yourself. Try to interrupt any critical thoughts by breathing deeply and letting go of your expectations.    

How to Make Time for Meditation

You don't have to meditate for hours every day to reap the benefits. If you don't have a large block of time to set aside, you can fit meditation into everyday moments. As you go through the day, try a few of these techniques: 

Scan your body. Start at the top of your body and focus your attention on your head. Pay careful attention to any sensations you feel. Work your way down your body, inch by inch, seeing if you feel each part as you focus on it. Notice whatever sensations come up without judging them.   

Walking meditation. If you tend to get sleepy when you're trying to meditate, you might benefit from a walking meditation. This is also a healthy way to combine getting some fresh air and exercise with relaxing. During your walk, slow down and focus on the movement of your legs and feet. Notice what your legs and feet are doing, and repeat action words as you do them, such as "lifting," "moving," and "stepping".   

Mindfulness meditation. To do a short mindfulness meditation, choose something to focus on. It can be a word, a sound, or your breath. Repeat it out loud or to yourself as you inhale or exhale. Just relax and let go as you focus your attention on your sound or your breathing. When your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to your focus. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Psychological Association: "The power of the relaxation response."

Harvard Health Blog: "Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep."

Harvard Men's Health Watch: "Breath meditation: A great way to relieve stress."

Mayo Clinic: "Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress."

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: "Research."

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