There are a million different meditation programs on the market, many of which claim to help you get a better night’s sleep – but which ones actually deliver on that promise?
Today, I’m going to take a look at the Power of Sleep program. This program frames meditation as a tool that can not only help you fall asleep faster but pave the way for a deeper and more restful sleep over time.
Meditation and Sleep: What Does the Science Say?
Can meditation help you drift off to dreamland? Research points to yes. A 2020 piece on Harvard’s Health Blog cites a 2015 study that suggests meditation, along with other forms of mindfulness, can evoke a “relaxation response” that can help reduce stress, which, in turn, may help you sleep better at night.
Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, recommends 20 minutes of practicing mindfulness during the day, choosing a calming focus, which leads to letting go and relaxing.
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he told the Harvard Health Blog. Creating this sense of relaxation during the day will make it easier to revisit that state at night.
How Does the Power of Sleep Program Work?
The Power of Sleep program is a 2-week program. There are 15 total classes, and the overall goal is to meditate for 10-15 minutes per night. You will take only one class a day, with the exception of the first day. The first week is a beginner-level class, but the classes in the second week are slightly longer and more advanced.
The program is designed to be done before bed, and because of this, most classes are locked until you complete them in order, so you cannot start week 2 without finishing up your classes in week 1. I did see the option to skip the last class of week 1 if desired, but for the purpose of getting everything out of it, I stuck to completing each class.
Just a heads’ up: To complete the course, you’ll need a Peloton subscription. These can be purchased alone or with equipment. Peloton offers two membership options, both of which will give you access to Power of Sleep.
Ready to meditate? Let’s get started!
Class 1: 5-minute Intro to Sleep Meditation
The first class of Power of Sleep may trick you. I had laid down in the dark and prepared my space for the first meditation session. However, this was actually the introductory class, so it wasn’t quite time for meditation yet! This class simply lets the user know what to expect as you head into the program.
Class 2: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
This is where the meditation kicked off! It was meant to be a seated meditation, but the instructor noted that you could lay down, too. I laid down because I thought that’d make it easier to fall asleep. Behind the instructor’s voice, a calming instrumental song was played (something I noticed to be a trend throughout the program).
A cool feature to note: you’ll be able to see who and how many people are taking the class in real-time, similar to their workout class format.
This class was all about focusing on your breath, using it as a tool to become aware of and let go of tension. I began to feel quite calm and sleepy. I truly felt that my full focus was on my breath and that I could block out any distractions or anxiety I was experiencing. Because of this, I was able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
Class 3: 5-minute Savasana Meditation
When it came time for class three, I was honestly excited. The first mediation made me ultra-relaxed, so naturally, I had high expectations. This class was specifically geared towards laying down, and I was all about it. The idea stemmed from Savasana, which is a restful pose often done at the end of a yoga class while laying down. The Savasana Meditation consisted of a body scan (a type of meditation where you focus on loosening and relaxing each section of your body one by one).
The body scan also proved to create an impressive level of relaxation for me. I felt even closer to sleep than the class before. It really got me to release all of my tension, causing me to feel quite heavy and sleepy. I loved it!
Class 4: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
While the first two focused on the body, this meditation took focus to the mind. It started with visualizing myself by a riverbank. The dark banks were lit aglow by the warm moonlight above. Next, I was guided to find a paper boat. The instructor set the scene and gave the boat a purpose. I was told then to place all of my worries at the time within this boat, placing it in the river. As it flowed down the river, I slowly let go of these worries.
I have to say, I’m not normally one to buy into all this mental exploration, (I couldn’t even get through Calm’s Harry Styles guided meditation) but I really felt in touch with my inner landscape. It was super eye-opening to visualize all my worries in this way and this helped me relieve my mind of the anxieties of daily life.
Class 5: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
This next meditation covered the contents of your day. I was instructed to lay down and close my eyes, as I inhaled and exhaled. While I inhaled, I would remember a certain event of my day, and as I exhaled, I let it go. I found this meditation to be a relaxing way to potentially let go of any stressors that faced you during the day, as well as celebrate your wins. For example, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for completing a ride that day, specifically one of their Red (Taylor’s Version) classes. So good. Overall, I liked some of the previous meditations better, but I still liked this daily review technique.
Something I would like to reiterate is the importance of a quiet and uninterrupted space. For me, I still had a great meditation and got some needed relief out of it, but there was one moment where my dog was moving around the bed trying to get comfortable, and I felt distracted. When that happened, I just accepted this is real life and I can’t control absolutely everything around me. I pushed through that distraction and got back in focus.
Class 6: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
Also a day-scanning meditation, I was tasked with thinking about things I’m grateful for, things I’m proud of, and things I could’ve done better that day. Immediately, I was all over this idea. It was like daily affirmations in my head, which I was really excited to try. The idea here was to visualize a box during each inquiry. Once each inquiry was introduced, I was instructed to place each of those things I thought of into that box, and tuck it away for the rest of the night.
Now I’ll admit, this one went a little fast for me – I loved the concept, but as each inquiry was introduced, I found the instructor switching into the next one and totally scrambling my thoughts. I had a lot of things to be grateful for! I am a visual person but needed more time to mentally fill my box. I will say that I felt sleepier at the end of this one (I even yawned), but I think this exercise would be better suited for something closer to a 10-minute class.
Class 7: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
This class included a body scan paired with a guided meditation. Unlike the previous body scan session, where we covered each specific body part (feet, ankles, etc.), we focused more generally on the upper and lower body in this one. During the scan, as we found areas of tension, we were told to picture a piece of yarn in a knot and as we scanned across the body we were told to untie the knot. I personally thought this was a strange visualization because tangled yarn is usually hard to undo. (Right?) Though I struggled to visualize this at first, by the end of the meditation I, yet again, found myself feeling sleepy. I would say it got the job done.
Class 8: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
The first 10-minute sleep meditation of the program began by summing up the first week of meditations. The instructor touched on how some instructors and certain meditations may work better for us on a given day and this may change, and I began to remember how I liked their particular voice from a previous class. This is totally based on personal preference, but some voices may feel more calming to you than others.
The class started out with a breathing exercise and led to a visualization. We counted to 3, then 4, then 5, as we inhaled and exhaled. I have to admit, the counting of breaths was uncomfortable for me. I much preferred breathing on my own and not counting it, because slowing down my inhales made me feel uncomfortably full of air.
Next, we were told to visualize our heartbeat and tap on our leg to mimic that. I consider my chest to sort of be my anxiety center and I’ve always had a nervous feeling when it comes to blood pumping, veins, the usual fear of blood and needles kind of thing… so I didn’t much like that part either. I must note that this will likely be a totally different experience for someone else. It personally felt a little too long and caused me some unneeded anxiety but I encourage you to try it out yourself because it could really work for you.
Class 9: 5-minute Sleep Meditation
The 9th class signified the beginning of week 2. Previously, these classes were all locked and unable to be taken until week 1 was completed. This class started out as a bit of an introduction to the second week, and then led into an inhale and exhale breathing exercise. I liked this breathing exercise because it was simply inhaling and exhaling.
The instructor then added a mantra to the inhale and exhale. It went as follows: “My mind is open. My heart is free.” Perhaps if you’re an experienced meditator it may do something for you, but it was a little too general for me. I definitely preferred earlier meditations that dove deeper into real-life events and worries. Even though it wasn’t necessarily for me, I will say I felt pretty relaxed at the end of this session.
Class 10: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
Class 10 signified the first 10-minute meditation of week 2, which covered breath and mindfulness of the body and was designed to set you up for a deeper and more restful sleep.
This started with the usual breathing and turned into a body scan. Again, it wasn’t my preferred area-by-area body scan; instead, it was more general. However, I really liked how the instructor would bring up alternatives to her commands. For example, if our mind wandered while focusing on our breath, she suggested focusing on the sensation in our hands or attaching a word to certain sensations In our body. For me, the word association technique really resonated and turned this one around for me. She spoke less and less toward the end, and I felt incredibly sleepy and tired toward the end of it. This meditation did a good job of helping me disconnect from the device that was playing my meditation, leading me into a deeper sleep that evening.
Class 11: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
Class 11 included another Savasana meditation (building on what we learned on the second day) and further continued the 10-minute trend, being longer and more advanced. Once again, we were guided into a body scan, focusing on breath and leading us into a guided visualization.
I really liked this one because this instructor (Anna Greenberg) went through a much more guided body scan, discussing different parts of the body. I get the most out of a meditation that’s truly guided and doesn’t let the mind wander too much – your mileage may vary, but this made it easier for me to follow and actively participate. I also liked the mention of tension in the chest in her guided scan, because that’s where my stress tends to build up.
Throughout the class, she also used the word “passive” numerous times, which was something I found to be quite interesting. It felt like sort of a reminder to let the mediation wash over you and accept what it offered.
Toward the end, she instructs you to picture yourself lounging in the velvety clouds, and then shifted to the visualization of our bodies drifting along a river. I felt very tired after this one and began yawning and rubbing my eyes. I really liked this one.
Class 12: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
This class started out with focusing inward and the standard breathing exercise. This class used another one of those day-scanning techniques that I had enjoyed during week 1.
This time, we were building up a stack of blocks. It started with all of the people we’d met that day. Once I had my stacked tower, I was instructed to exhale out slowly, which symbolically blew down the tower. In the rubble of the tower, we were told to visualize a jewel that left behind the memory of that day that we could hold onto. Next, we focused on events of that day and then the experiences and feelings we had, completing the same tower and exhaling motions.
At the end of this practice, we imagined picking up all three jewels, bringing them close to our hearts to hold and trust that what we need would be leftover and there for us tomorrow. Overall, I do still love the day scan technique, but I thought the jewel part was a little farther-fetched than I’d like. I thought it was strange to blow down a tower of loved ones that I saw that day. Not my favorite, but I think I understand what they were getting at.
Class 13: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
I was immediately intrigued at the start of this class, as the instructor noted its focus on “letting go” and the gratitude and joys of the day you just had. This was right up my alley and something I definitely needed.
The instructor started talking about the judgments we place on ourselves and others and becoming aware of them. She then got into the topic of forgiveness of others, allowing us to extend and express forgiveness to various people in our lives. It even included a mantra of forgiveness. (Loved this!) This one was especially helpful for me because you could forgive others for wrongdoings you were ready to forgive. You were also invited to forgive as much as you could, even if it wasn’t fully, for people who’d done things you deemed unforgivable.
Next up, was forgiveness of self and identifying the presence of self-blame. Being an anxious person, I especially loved this one. We were invited to say these mantras out loud: “Forgiven” and, “It’s okay.” I felt very light and peaceful and happy at the end of this. There are so many judgments we harbor on both ourselves and others, and for me, it was such a therapeutic and beneficial way to release all of this tension. This definitely helped me relieve anxiety before bed and fall asleep faster. Might just be my favorite of week 2 thus far.
Class 14: 10-minute Sleep Meditation
This class involved being a witness to your own experiences to help you let go of things. The instructor began by congratulating us for sticking with the program and hoping that we got something out of this as far as sleep and even in other areas of life. I was instructed to close my eyes and focus inward, looking at my thoughts and recognizing that I was witnessing my own thoughts and sensations within. The instructor then invited us to tune our awareness inward and acknowledge our position as a witness and accept the idea of clarity and letting go.
I was told to picture myself walking home and going over how I felt. I needed to see myself and my experiences from a different perspective, almost like an out-of-body experience. Throughout this walk, the instructor went through various things that may have happened in our day, whether at work, school, etc., and were invited to let these things go. As I headed to the door to enter my home, I had to actively choose to leave the outward part of my day behind. Upon entering the home, we removed layers, like hats and scarves, to signify shedding the layers of the day.
The instructor then said something really interesting to me: “As you witness yourself let go, there is a part of your consciousness that is actually letting go.” I took this as the visualization of letting go of some of my worries and anxieties of the day can actually help me let them go in real life. Though there was a lot going on, I really enjoyed this one as well. I felt like it covered a lot of ground and really left me feeling less anxious and more relaxed.
Class 15: 15-minute Sleep Meditation
This last class is the first and only 15-minute class in the program. It started with a nice overview of the course and congratulated users on completing it. The instructor also touched on how some nights may have felt better than others, which definitely rang true for me.
To finish up the program, the last class included a breathing technique and a guided visualization. We did a scan of the body during the breathing technique, releasing tension and making the body feel “soft” and “heavy,” terms that these instructors often refer to. This went on for about the first 5 minutes and then we were invited to look towards the freedom to dream. That was kind of the overall theme here, inviting hopes and dreams into your life and speaking them into existence. As we opened up ourselves to new experiences and opportunities, we also let go of the doubt, fear, and negativity within. The ending was perfect, assuring me that I’m exactly where I need to be, and really felt like the program was brought full circle. This last one did feel a bit long but in a good way. It felt like the end of a long project and finally seeing it come to fruition.
Pros and Cons
Now that I’ve taken you through my experience in the Power of Sleep program, let’s discuss some overall pros and cons that stood out to me as far as my own experience or what others may potentially experience.
- Instructor Variety. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to experience the same thing over and over. As I closed my eyes, I enjoyed hearing different voices in each class. I think Peloton did a nice job including about four different instructors, three of which were women, with one being a woman of color.
- Winding Down. Each of these classes ended with the instructor inviting you to doze off to sleep if you desire. I liked this for two reasons. One, it caused me to assess my level of tiredness, which nearly always increased. Two, unlike a Netflix show that might automatically play the next episode and wake you up, this reminder signified a calm end that would actually let you drift to sleep.
- Class Length. This could be seen as a pro or con depending on the way you look at it, but I appreciated the variety of class lengths between week 1 and week 2. I think that this program is meant to show you that even a touch of meditation added to your life can impact your sleep in a positive way. Some may find it to be a pro if a busy schedule only allows you that 5 minutes, while others may appreciate the more extended classes to really dive into meditation further.
- Commitment. This program is more of a commitment than a one-and-done workout class. If you can’t see yourself seeing the program through, Peloton has meditations outside of this program that you can try as well.
- Cost. The cheapest membership is $12.99 a month, so Peloton may not be the most economical route for everyone. Looking for alternatives? Try searching for some sleep meditations on YouTube instead.
Post Power of Sleep: Looking Ahead
The Power of Sleep program was incredibly healing for me. Not only did it help me get to sleep faster and deeper, but it opened me up to the real benefits of meditation in my everyday life. Previously, I had been somewhat of a skeptic, thinking it was never something that would work for me. This program successfully proved me wrong.
Echoing the instructor’s words, you may not have the best experience every single time, but that’s why you stick with it. Some nights it’s going to really click, and others there may be a disconnect. This will only help you become more aware of what works for you.
I personally experienced a big wake-up call in my sleep routine. I found these classes to be extra helpful in getting me to sleep, but I do see myself needing to stick to the actual classes and not running with it in my own head. As I touched on in my review, the guided ones are what work for me best. I enjoy having that guide in my head telling me where to turn next, and when consistently following this method, I do believe my sleep has improved. I also found pretty significant relief in areas of stress and anxiety. Here, I was able to take the little practices I learned in the meditations and apply them on my own. I even found myself using some of Peloton’s methods in my head during stressful periods on a given day.
The word “power” sums up this program’s reach quite well. If there’s something out there that can get me to sleep AND ease stress and anxiety, then Peloton can count me in for many meditations to come.