Does meditation reduce sleep?

In long-term meditators, several hours spent meditation are associated with a significant decrease in total sleep time compared to age and sex controls who did not meditate. Researchers found that reduced sleep is quite common at times of intensive meditation practice, such as multi-day silent retreats. Sleeping less is often considered a sign of meditative ability and progress. Buddhist texts suggest that competent meditators sleep about 4 hours a night.

Meditation is not a cure for recovering sleep and there is no substitute for sleep. But once our sleep count is balanced, those who continue to meditate on a daily basis may find that they need less sleep. Meditation can help you sleep better. As a relaxation technique, it can calm the mind and body while improving inner peace.

When done before bedtime, meditation can help reduce insomnia and sleep problems by promoting overall calm. Meditation can definitely make you sleep less. By meditating, one naturally enters a calmer state of mind. Falling asleep in meditation could also mean that your mind is releasing layers and layers of emotional charge, a process necessary before a true meditative state (i).

Sleep and meditation contribute to the health of both body and mind in strikingly similar ways. The second part of the study looked at the amount of sleep and mental acuity of experienced meditators compared to a group of non-meditators. This tendency has been demonstrated in many different studies, even for new meditators who begin with short periods of meditation. Many people practice meditation just before they go to sleep to help relax their minds, or in the morning to help them have a positive and clear mindset for the day ahead.

Instead of trying to use meditation to replace sleep, use night meditation to help you sleep better so you can receive the benefits mentioned above. In the words of sleep scientist Allen Rechtschaffen, “If the many hours of sleep achieved mean nothing, it is the biggest mistake that nature has ever made. Using breathing exercises as a form of meditation for sleep involves concentrating and regulating your breaths and eventually reducing them, which tells your mind that it's time to fall asleep. Perhaps the main thing to keep in mind is that, as far as the body is concerned, meditation and sleep are two different things.

You can slowly increase the length of your meditation sessions and experiment with shorter sleep times. Multiple studies have taught us that the cumulative effects of sleep restriction are the same as those of a night of total sleep deprivation. Shift work sleep disorder, SWSD, develops in those who cannot recover from staying up all night, even sleeping during the day. Neither of you can replace the other, but if you're looking for better sleep, slow down and meditate.

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