It depends on you!
That’s the short answer. I’ve meditated both at night and in the morning and at all times in-between. Sometimes I preferred one time of day, and other times I preferred another. Honestly, what mattered most was when I had time to do it and when would be the quietest space for a meditation session (usually) in my home.
Meditation in the Morning Might Be Best If…
- If you are an early bird and you get up easily and are quickly wide-awake without coffee or tea or other stimulants. Contrary to what a lot of meditators think, your mind must be wide awake in order to meditate correctly. You’re training your mind to focus on something small and with full attention, so if your mind isn’t ready to work at an early morning hour, it isn’t going to work out so well for you then.
- If you have a busy house, and morning time before everyone wakes up is quietest. When you’re beginning your meditation practice, and even if you’ve practiced for years, you probably need your space to be almost silent in order to get a good meditative session in. I remember I did. If dogs were barking or the TV was going, even in the house next door, it could affect my meditation. If you can wake up before everyone else, the morning might be the best time for meditating for you!
- You work all night. For a while I was working night shifts at a personal care home for people with mental disability and challenges. I was still very awake in the morning when I returned home and it was quiet at 7 am. so I would sit for a meditation session for 20 minutes and it usually went well. If you work at night, you might consider meditation in the morning. At least try it!
- You drink coffee or tea during the day and it has you anxious or antsy even still after dinner. Or worse, you have tea or coffee after dinner regularly! It’s very difficult to have a good meditation session after drinking anything with caffeine. If you can meditate in the morning before your first caffeinated beverage, it could be the best time of the day for you.
Meditation at Night Might Be Best If…
- You have a stressful day job and you need time to relax. Give yourself that time to relax with meditation after work and dinner. The focus for most of your session can be to relax the body and mind. Don’t worry so much about focusing on the breath right away unless it calms you. Look at each muscle group in your body and go through them, even tensing them as you think about them and then feel the release and relief as you stop flexing each one. This focus on the relaxation of the body can really relax the mind too and prepare it for a great meditation session.
- You can stay awake until after the kids or whomever you live with is already sleeping. Night time can be the quietest time of the 24-hour day, and I think it usually is. Anytime after 9 pm. is probably pretty quiet unless you live on a busy street filled with traffic. In that case you might want to invest in noise-cancelling headphones (at Amazon). They help so much and can bring your meditation sessions to a new level. I wish these cool gadgets were available 20+ years ago when I was beginning to meditate.
- You’re a night-person. You love the night time, you’re full of energy and your mind is very awake at night – even around midnight is perfect for some people. For me, I tended to get sleepy meditating after 11 pm. but sometimes it was perfect for me.
For me, meditation at night right after dinner, around 7 pm. was the right time for me most often during my practice. If you eat a light dinner that doesn’t make you too sleepy, that can help. At the end of the day, I used meditation as a time of relaxation to be honest. For weeks, meditation came secondary to relaxing during this 20 minutes each day that I gifted myself. I was stressed after work and even though I ran before dinner to relieve some stress, I found that it wasn’t enough. This is why I started to meditate in the first place!
Experiment and see when the best time(s) are for you to meditate. Also, see if you can be flexible and find a couple different times that work for you so you have some sort of options when something might creep up and try to take the place of your daily meditation session.
To help ensure that your meditation program goes well and gives you quick benefits so you keep practicing, you should do what you can to find a couple of good times to meditate during the day. If you can’t get rid of caffeine completely, see if you can adjust and take it after your session if you have to. If you meditate in the evening and you are a caffeine fiend that needs your fix, see if you can cut down on your caffeine toward the end of the day. There’s nothing worse than a mind that won’t stop churning out thoughts while you’re trying to reign the mind in and focus on the breath.
Best of luck to you!! Let me know in the comments of any challenges you’re having!