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March 31, 2021

Do Guided Meditation Journeys Work if You Fall Asleep?

In my Guided Journeys work at the Irish Pagan School, one of the most common concerns that students have is do guided meditation journeys work if you fall asleep?

Because it happens to most of us, at some point.

Look, Basic Meditation is about relaxation. As I always say in my workshops (remember when we could meet in person for live events?!) and online classes, if somebody doesn’t fall asleep when I lead a guided journey, I’m not doing my job right.

Ok granted, sometimes the soft snores can be a little distracting for other workshop participants, I’ll not lie. But that’s not an issue we have during the online work, at least!

I’ve been told that my voice is very soothing, and my Irish accent lovely, even in my regular YouTube and Facebook videos. It’s bound to have an effect when I’m deliberately using my Guiding voice and energy.

As I said, falling asleep during meditation is a very normal occurrence. But let’s look at it a bit more.

Why Do You Fall Asleep During Guided Meditation or Journeys?

According to one of the leading meditation apps Headspace, when we’re meditating (especially at the beginning of developing a practice), we’re going for a balance between relaxation and focus. Achieving that can be tough!

If you are too much on the focus side of things, concentrating on a script or the exact words of a guided journey, you can end up tense and even a little stressed.

And if you’re too much on the relaxation side of things, it’s easy to drift on into a little power nap. One minute you’re all blissed out being led on a lovely beach journey… next thing you know you’re waking up in a puddle of drool and suddenly worried that parts of you may have gotten lost on the way back from the Otherworld.

It takes some time and some regular practice to find that balance, but that’s ok.

First off, if you’re like the vast majority of us trying to survive and thrive in this thing we call modern life, you’re feckin’ exhausted, like, most of the time.

If you’re not sleeping enough at night (experts recommend 7-9 hours, but it is different for everyone so knowing your own cycles is crucial), it’s kind of a given that your body is going to take the chance to drift off once you get comfortable, relax and close those eyes. Sleep is important yeah?

If you’re doing a guided meditation at times when you’re naturally on a low energy ebb, catching a snooze is going to be even more likely. Think… after a meal, after working a full day, first thing in the morning (for some folks), or right before bed.

These are actually great times to form a meditation habit, mind you, given that they are at natural break times during the day, or times when relaxation is most needed. Just be aware of the other factors at play here too, which may be contributing to the inadvertent slumber.

Honestly, it’s ok to just keep going with the practice, even if you’re sleeping, and I’ve found that you’ll reach a natural balance between that relaxation and focus ideal, as well as being more rested generally and less likely to sleep.

This could take a couple of days or a couple of weeks, even a couple of months to swing into balance. Just trust the process and listen to your body (and maybe focus on getting your sleep hygiene and routines in order to help yourself along a bit more.)

So… DO Guided Meditation Journeys Work If You Fall Asleep?


It’s only your conscious mind that checked out. During sleep, your subconscious takes over completely (having been working in the background while you were awake).

Although we are still very much in the dark about what EXACTLY is happening while we sleep, it’s pretty clear that the subconscious mind has access to pretty much all of your brain resources.

As my Guided Journey Programmes are very much designed to work with the subconscious and the unconscious parts of your mind, not having your conscious mind ‘in the way’ can even be a bonus to your work.

Although of course the end goal is to experience and then integrate what we learn, so sleeping through Journeys ALL the time will stall that process a little, admittedly. But you’ve got time to practice!

While your body and mind (and spirit) figure this out though, there’s no harm being done.

The Guided Meditation Journeys I teach are organised with your safety as paramount, so there is a very clear process for the path you take – through the darkness, to the beach, across the water (at Level Two) and to your destination. Then back again through exactly the same steps, with all of your bits and pieces present and accounted for.

(This is not, unfortunately, the case with many ‘guided meditations’, so please do be careful if you’re engaging with some random guide who you may not know or trust to have your best interests and security in mind!)

If this is a thing that does bother you, and you don’t want to wait for your system to sort itself out (that is my best recommendation, just to be clear), there are a few things you can do to swing that balance more towards focus for the time being, and hopefully stay awake during your Guided Journeys.

  • Don’t meditate or journey after a big meal, as your energy will be diverted to digestion.
  • Make sure you’re well hydrated though, which is energising, and drink some water just before you begin your practice.
  • Choose your time window carefully so sleep and waking are well separated – avoid the time just after you wake up, and just before you go to sleep.
  • It’s maybe best to avoid meditating in bed altogether, or in any location that you might usually have a deep rest or even a nap in, such as your couch.
  • Try sitting outside in the fresh air, even better if there’s a fresh breeze or some good brightness – but do be aware of the soporific effect of a warm and sunny afternoon!
  • If you are lying down, bend and draw your knees up so you have to maintain their position – if you nod off they will drop to either side and wake you up.
  • And if you are sitting up, have tried everything else and you’re still dropping into a snooze, try holding something in your hand that would drop to the floor if you fall asleep, so the noise would wake you.

Hopefully all of this will put your mind at rest about whether guided meditation journeys work if you fall asleep, but you can also join the Facebook group that is dedicated to my particular Guided Journeys in the Irish Otherworld method.

If you would like to take a beginner class on this topic, to get you started, you can find one here – The FREE Foundation Class in Meditation and Guided Journeys at the Irish Pagan School.

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About the Author

Irish Author, Educator, and Guide to Ireland. Co-Founder of the Irish Pagan School, Eel & Otter Press, and Pagan Life Rites (Ireland).

Lora O'Brien

Join our Tuath (community, tribe) to get Course and Scholarship info, and regular (free) Irish resources on topics such as Mythology, History, Society, Spirituality, Storytelling and Travel directly from Lora O'Brien and the team at the Irish Pagan School.

  • I’m adopted. From an American settled Irish family [Kent], to an American settled [mostly Irish McCollum] family. I’m a …not too sure Christian, Green Witch, Druid? Pagan? Very drawn to The Morrigan, and strangely you. No, not gay…would have found out by now since I’m 65 and stlll do love a man. Not now, but whenever it suits me. Dabbled dark witch in my teens. Scared the bejabbers out of myself, hurt someone. Not badly, but enough. Now Green. Known that for years. Empath coming out strong. Didnt know that. Just felt…is that the right word ? Other people VERY strongly. Animals much more so. Get VERY confused. Then people, not mine, but others get hurt. Then I want to alone with animals in woods. Especially bats. Do I sound as though I am, bats I mean? Tattooed with a dog with wings, flowers, 4 leaf clover. 7 piercings…headed for 3 more tats. One a black cat, my favorite, looking out sitting on 4 hash marks. Got 5 lives left. I died 3 times between 30 Mar 20 and 8 Oct 20 [not Covid], in surgeries then 99% dead on 8 Apr 21. In my disabled car. Fool hit us threw us 30 feet. My back is broken, but right on the spot it was repaired before December, Friday the 13 2019. So I can walk, just. Birthday is anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. I have a “habit” of saying things…. then they happen. So I try not to. Like the wreck. Predicted it 2 days b4. Almost all people
    I know, except closest to me are afraid of me. Suits me though, most of them are either idjuts or morons. Not in the literal sense or to be mean/cruel, but with an I. Q. pushing 150, basic chit chat is snore inducing. No one here knows what to do except say, “I’ll be right back.” Then run like hell.
    Not to insult you. It’s very odd. The expression on your face. I get that one a lot. My kids are grown 39, 27. They see that look n get nervous. Except I’m blonde silver/white we could be sisters. My e-mail. They think they’re funny. Don’t mess with mum I tell them. They call me Salty Devil Woman. The Salty made it too long. So year of birth an chop the Salty. Fun telling people what it is. I love the pause.
    So, do you think there is Pagan too. In this crazy gene pool?
    Hope I amused you at the very least.

  • Thank you for being gracious. I was feeling bad that I keep falling asleep. I am a director of nursing working very short staffed with the scheduler out, no manager on one unit, and multiple call offs a day, so working the floor and running the building, too for ten to 15 hours every day with an hour commute either way. I tried to quit, and my boss asked me to stay until the scheduler comes back from leave in another month. Something has to give. I have been in nursing 31 years. I am tired, much too exhausted to keep this up. I am getting to the point that I hate nursing. I wake at 3 am every night. Thank you for the grace. I got teary eyed just knowing I am not judged for “doing it wrong.” I appreciate your service to the goddesses and to people. Take care of yourself. You are a gem.

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