The Nuance

Is There a Perfect Time of Day to Meditate?

Some factors to help you figure it out

Markham Heid
Elemental
Published in
4 min readJul 11, 2019

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Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

PPick an ailment, mental or physical, and there’s probably research that shows meditation can treat it. Studies have found that meditation can help people with depression, pain disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and high blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health.

While the term “meditation” is used to describe many different practices, such as mindfulness or transcendental meditation, all of them involve periods of quiet focus that are intended, at least in part, to strengthen concentration. And much of the research suggests that 15 to 20 minutes a day is the minimum amount of meditation time required to capture health and wellness benefits.

For aspiring meditators, and even for some experienced om-ers, carving out time for a formal meditation practice can be tricky. “In the decade that I’ve been meditating every day, the only time that has proven always available is when I fall asleep at night,” says Michael Mrazek, director of research at the Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “There are inevitably at least a few minutes after I’ve kissed my wife good night when there are no competing external demands for my attention. So I’ve turned those minutes into a very consistent opportunity for mindfulness practice.”

Mrazek says that with meditation, as with exercise, the most important thing is that a person puts in the time. If that means practicing in the morning one day and before bed the next, that’s fine.

On the other hand, meditating at a set time each day is a great way for someone to cement meditation’s place in their routine — and therefore make a habit of it, says Miles Neale, a clinical instructor of psychology in integrative medicine and psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and author of Gradual Awakening, a book about Tibetan Buddhist contemplative practices. Establishing a set time for meditation also solidifies the practice’s importance in a person’s life, he says.

But is there an ideal time of day to do it? It depends.

“It’s definitely easier to stay focused if you meditate at a time of day when you’re…

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Markham Heid
Elemental

I’m a long-time contributor at TIME and other media orgs. I write mostly about health. I grew up in Michigan, but these days I live in southwest Germany.