Meditating Instead of Sleep
Can a frequent pattern of meditation entirely replace our need for sleep? Does meditating offer our body and mind the same benefits as a good night’s rest? Relaxation and meditating is proven to increase focus, energy and overall alertness. However, some may argue that sleeping is irreplaceable for the human body.
Ancient myths speak of buddhist monks able to completely eliminate the need for sleeping. Is that realistic, or even healthy for someone to try to practice?
Why sleep is unique
Sleep is needed to restore energy to both the mind and body. The body’s systems restore energy and while in an anabolic state, they are able to repair their cells to allow continuous metabolic functions while the body is awake.
Our mind’s also need the rest in order to absorb the information and memories created from the previous day. Without proper early sleep and REM cycles, our brain does not have the chance to enhance our informational and procedural memory for day-to-day activities.
Additionally, sleep allows the proper distribution and secretion of hormones that facilitate growth.
Dreaming is another unique trait to sleep. Many theorize the different purposes of dreaming and think that it provides pathways to psychoanalyze your conscious mind. Interpretations of dreams are wildly debatable, but the imagery and first-person realistic scenarios aren’t quite obtainable with meditation.
While some can experience surreal experiences with intense practice, focus and repetition from meditating, it’s not comparable to dreaming or the restorative effects present with the state of deep sleep.
When should you use meditation instead of sleep?
Many individuals, on a purely subjective basis, can experience a lesser need for sleep after intense meditation. Or sometimes using it to replace it completely. HOWEVER, this is generally only over the period of a night. This means an individual uses mediation to replace only one night of sleep. And not over a consistent period of time.
Few claims are made to actually use meditation instead of sleep consistently. But those who do claim to be consistently practicing intense amounts of deep meditation and manifests in a sort of “spiritual connection” with the universe.
Many people do use meditation to restore energy throughout their day! You can feel an extreme amount of rejuvenation after an intense mediation session. This is a great source of relaxation and revitalization.
It is proven that meditation can increase brain alertness, similar to how our brain restores while sleeping. Additionally, the study from Behavioral and Brain Functions shows that a consistent long-term pattern of meditation is associated with a decrease in total sleep when compared to controlled groups who did not meditate.
Related Article: Read more information about learning to meditate without falling asleep.