This Sleep Meditation EP Is Repairing My Toxic Relationship with Rest
After incorporating Black Girl In Om's "Beauty Sleep" meditation into my bedtime routine, my entire perspective on sleep is shifting.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a rocky relationship with sleep. I vividly recall being in pre-K, counting down the minutes until naptime before I could even tell time on an analog clock. Unlike some of my peers, I wasn't one to fight sleep — I embraced it. But by the time I reached college, my relationship with sleep had done a 180: Instead of taking the time to get adequate rest, I often found myself sleeping only for survival, squeezing in 15-minute naps when I could, and getting little to no sleep for days to "balance" demanding school, work, and interning schedules. It felt like overnight, I'd fallen into the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" narrative that's often pushed onto young people chasing their dreams.
Fast-forward to June 2020, my sleep schedule was in its worst shape yet. No matter how hard I tried to get a good night's rest, my anxious thoughts about what was happening in the world, from COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter protests, kept me awake and on-edge. And when my racing thoughts weren't keeping me up, the fireworks that blanketed New York City that summer would. The constant lack of sleep left me feeling out of control, unmotivated, and off-balance. (Related: How to Sleep Better When Stress Is Ruining Your Zzz's)
Since then, the fireworks have (finally) ended, but my anxious thoughts at bedtime haven't. Instead of counting sheep, I often find myself thinking about my loved ones, their well-being, financial stability — the thoughts go on and on and on.
I've already been taking steps to turn my sleep habits around, from candlelit nighttime showers to silky pajamas to watching what I eat and drink close to bedtime (yes, I have an actual bedtime). But what's really helped to calm my racing mind at night lately? Black Girl In Om's "Beauty Sleep" guided meditation.
In case you're not familiar with Black Girl In Om, the platform was created by yoga and meditation guide, Lauren Ash to "catalyze" healing for Black women on a spiritual journey toward wholeness. BGIO offers everything from complimentary meditations to guided plans that help you with spiritual intention and alignment. The platform also has a guided sleep meditation titled Beauty Sleep, and after listening to it at bedtime for the past month, my perspective on rest has totally shifted. (Related: Meet Lauren Ash, One of the Most Important Voices In the Wellness Industry)
Beauty Sleep, which is available on all streaming platforms (as well as a free YouTube video), is meant to help you work toward getting the quality sleep you deserve through guided meditation. The EP was created to challenge the narrative that, "for Black womxn, the idea of survival [relies] on the inability to rest and properly care for ourselves", BGIO shared on Twitter. "The Beauty Sleep EP combats this story, one listen at a time, by centering rest as a priority and creating the space to consider what it means to thrive instead of survive."
The EP is split into three parts: Divine Rest & Ease (which focuses on affirmations), Divine Rejuvenation & Fullness (which explores meditative visualization and embodiment), and Divine Intention Regeneration (a body-focused meditation that encourages you to sink into your bed, toe by toe, limb by limb).
I've started listening to BGIO's Beauty Sleep EP just as I'm crawling into bed at night. After enjoying my nighttime shower, I grab my silky PJs, a sleep mask, and a weighted blanket, letting Lauren Ash talk me to sleep with her soft, soothing voice once I'm under the covers. My usual anxious thoughts will sometimes linger at first, but as Ash guides me into a comfortable sleeping position and recites affirmations such as "I am worthy and deserving of rest," I slowly begin to focus on her words instead of the thoughts of the day. (Related: Try This Guided Meditation the Next Time You Feel Overwhelmed with Anxiety)
To be clear, I'm not an experienced meditator in any form. But since incorporating BGIO's Beauty Sleep meditation into my sleep routine over the past month, I've noticed some small but impactful changes in my sometimes-toxic relationship with sleep. Most notably, my attitude toward sleep's place in my life has changed. Instead of thinking of sleep as something I have to get out of the way, I'm looking at it as a beautiful gift that I deserve. Much like the balanced breakfasts that start my day and the many upbeat playlists that help me power through work, sleep is evolving into an act of self-care. Truthfully, my quality of sleep hasn't changed tremendously. But I have noticed I'm able to fall asleep more quickly most days of the week because I'm looking forward to giving my body the rest it deserves. (Related: How to Use Sleep Meditation to Fight Insomnia)
The key to finding a sleep routine that works for you is staying open to trying different things and sticking with what helps you achieve a good night's rest. As someone who doesn't have much experience with meditation, I wasn't sure how Beauty Sleep would affect my relationship with sleep, if at all. Now, I can't imagine going to bed without it.