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  • Shiv Pathak

Non-Sleep Deep Rest: What is it and how can I benefit from it?

Deep sleep is one of the most effective ways to support energy levels and get us ready to face the challenges of the day ahead. But deep sleep is not always possible – late nights, early starts, interrupted sleep cycles and a whole myriad of things can prevent us from getting those glorious 6-8 hours of sleep.

Non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) is designed to put your mind into a deep rest state whilst remaining awake and alert. The result for some is increased focus, calm and productivity for the day. The term was coined by Dr Andrew Huberman (I strongly recommend his podcast The Huberman Lab), a neuroscientist and tenured Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

NSDR is very similar to a traditional yoga practice called Yoga Nidra, which translates to yoga sleep. It’s a type of guided meditation that takes between 10 and 60 minutes. You lie down and listen to a script which takes you into a deep relaxation. Often it involves a body scan meditation, where you focus on different parts of the body in turn, as well as breathing exercises. There are many great videos or podcasts out there,we recommend trying out some of RosalieYoga’s videos on YouTube, which last 5 to 15 minutes, some of which you can easily practice from your desk at work.

This type of meditation and deep rest is extremely restorative and refreshing. There has been neuroscientific research on the impact of Yoga Nidra which shows that it is associated with numerous psychological and psychological benefits such as red blood cell counts, blood glucose levels, hormonal changes as well as releases in dopamine, the “feel good” hormone. Neuroimaging studies have shown how Yoga Nidra, or NSDR, impacts the brain through this dopamine release and increased cerebral blood flow. It’s also been shown to reduce mild depression and anxiety.

How does NSDR help?

Essentially, NSDR helps to slow down brain waves just as we see in sleep, especially in the deep-sleep phase of the sleep cycle. To understand more about slow-wave sleep there is an excellent journal article you can read - Strengthening sleep–autonomic interaction via acoustic enhancement of slow oscillations.

NSDR comes with a host of benefits. Those cited by Dr Huberman include:

  • Improved memory retention

  • Better sleep

  • Stress relief

  • Better learning through enhanced neuroplasticity

So before an important meeting or a taxing piece of work, find a quiet environment, load up one of the many yoga nidra videos available online and start benefiting from NSDR today. And don’t forget to track the improvements in the Evexia App!

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