Can Meditation Replace Sleep? The human body needs an ample amount of sleep to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ignoring this fact can cause an adverse effect on your physical and mental health.
One of the most important things to remember in your daily routine is not to compromise your sleeping schedule as it is essential to have 7-8 hrs of sound sleep daily.
Unfortunately, not all of us, have the ability to fall asleep quickly and soundly. Some of you may experience trouble sleeping peacefully while others can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow.
Whatever category you fall into you may be interested to hear the role that meditation can play in impacting your sleep schedule as well as the quality of your sleep.
Meditation and sleep go hand in hand, some people even meditate purely to improve their sleep pattern. Once they achieve this, the same meditation practice can even reduce your duration of sleep, but this is a sign of progression. It is extremely important to understand that both sleep and meditation have their own significance and performing meditation and having sufficient sleep is always important.
Meditation vs Sleep
It’s important to make the distinction that when we meditate, we are not sleeping. However, the body is resting at a deep level with a much lower breath and heart rate than in the eyes-open state. There are moments when it might appear that we are no longer meditating. That the mantra has disappeared, and nothing is happening. We are not aware of this at the time, but usually just afterwards. When we become conscious that we have been in a transcendental state. A point between being fully conscious and asleep, when we have moved beyond the range of normal perception. The brain has stopped presenting and processing thoughts, and everything is very still and calm.
It is not uncommon for your first meditation of the day to be thought-filled, and you’re second to be a bit more ‘sleepy’. The second meditation deals with the fatigue and stress accumulated during the day, since your first meditation. By repeating two meditations daily we re-energize ourselves at a profound level. Stripping away accumulated stress which has been clouding our responses and reactions.
Meditation is not an alternative to sleep, but rather a wonderful tool to feel deeply rested and ensure that when we get into bed we are in the best possible frame of mind to get a full night of nourishing ‘shut-eye’.
So, Can Meditation Actually Replace Sleep?
Now, you may be thinking, Awesome, so mediation basically counts as sleep, right? Not quite. Unless you’ve spent at least two hours a day meditating for the last three years or more, you’re probably not going to notice a difference in your sleep needs on a regular basis by taking up meditating. In other words, don’t skimp on sleep at night and try to bounce back with a midday meditation. However, if you feel like you need to refocus in the middle of the day, maybe opt for half an hour of meditation instead of half an hour of napping. Not only will you increase your alertness and improve your reaction time, but chances are you’ll feel a lot less groggy afterward, too.
However, replacing sleep entirely is not a good practice. Nothing can replace sleep.
There are plenty of sleep benefits and here is a list of just a few of them-
- Boosts memory
- Improves immune system
- Stress reduction
- Helps weight issue
- Improves learning performance
- Improves athletic performance
- Increases concentration power
- Enhances creativity
These benefits cannot be achieved by meditation alone and thus a healthy sleep is necessary to achieve them. Sleep for 7-8 hours each night to experience long-term benefits.
Maybe Not Replace, but Meditation Can Decrease the Amount of Sleep You Need?
Meditation is performed to rejuvenate your mind and has a profound impact on your health.
Technically, it helps in solving sleep-related issues, but there is more to add in this context.
The number of hours of sleep needed to feel refreshed and rejuvenated will vary for each of us depending on the frequency of meditation and other factors as well.
Although sleep is important by reducing hours (while staying around 7-8 hours) you are not destroying the quality of your sleep. Rather you are increasing your mental strength. You feel fresh and positive after waking up even though you may not have slept as much as you did in college.
Below are the key points that summarise the impact of meditation on sleep:
- Meditation increases the Melatonin level (chemical) in the body that is critical in having a sound sleep. Stress prevents the body from generating Melatonin. As meditation reduces stress, allow yourself to generate this chemical naturally through regular practice.
- Meditation trains your mind to divert the thoughts that occur around bed-time, providing you with deep and efficient sleep. Your body doesn’t need more hours of sleep, and thus your sleep efficiency increases naturally.
- Meditation controls the brain and body when they come in reaction to internal or external stimuli. Your body reduces the ability to release stress hormones, and you don’t need more rest. Hence it is logical to experience less sleep with more meditation.
No matter how often or how long you meditate, replacing sleep with anything else is not an option. The combined effect of sleep and meditation is the formula for excellent results. If you’re worried about comfort while meditation then the best meditation cushions can have a huge benefit. While one factor that holds beginners back is what they should be doing with their hands during meditation. Our tip is not to worry too much and just concentrate on your breath.