Tired of feeling exhausted even after a full night’s sleep?
Looking for a powerful tool to recharge quickly and boost your energy and performance?
Look no further than non-sleep deep rest (NSDR). This innovative practice, also known as yogic sleep or Yoga Nidra, takes relaxation to a whole new level.
*I’ll be using the term Non-Sleep Deep Rest and NSDR interchangeably throughout the article.
What is Non-Sleep Deep Rest?
Non-Sleep Deep Rest works by guiding you into a deep state of relaxation that mimics the restorative benefits of sleep. By consciously entering a self-induced, sleep-like state, you can experience the restorative levels typically achieved during sleep.
It’s like hitting the reset button for your mind and body.
But the benefits of NSDR are go much further than that: Improved sleep quality, reduced stress levels, heightened focus, and enhanced cognitive performance are just a few.
The Origins and History of Non-Sleep Deep Rest and Yoga Nidra
The foundations of Non-sleep deep rest can be traced back centuries to yoga nidra, an ancient meditation practice designed to guide the body into complete and conscious relaxation. The term “yoga nidra” essentially translates to “yogic sleep” in Sanskrit, giving a sense of its deeply restful state.
Yoga Nidra was brought to the West in the 20th century by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who incorporated elements of tantra, yoga, and meditation. It gained more widespread recognition when physician Richard Miller began researching the effects of yogic sleep on reducing stress and improving health in the 1970s.
Since then, yoga nidra has evolved into new forms like NSDR that emphasize entering a sleep-like state while remaining fully conscious and in control. The goals are similar – to relax the nervous system, integrate mind and body, and tap into inner resources for healing.
NSDR has been recently popularised and promoted by Dr. Andrew Huberman, professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford (Andrew Huberman Lab). I highly recommend checking out his podcast and YouTube channel- Huberman Lab.
How Does Non-Sleep Deep Rest Work?
Unlike traditional sleep, NSDR involves consciously guiding your mind and body into a deep sense of rest. By engaging in techniques such as body scanning, progressive muscle relaxation, and sleep meditations, you can access a state of deep rest that resembles the restorative benefits of deep non-REM sleep.
When we engage in Non-Sleep Deep Rest, we enter a self-directed or self-induced state that mimics sleep-like conditions.
This conscious “sleep” allows us to truly rest and recharge, even without hours of traditional sleep.
The Science Behind NSDR
The science behind NSDR is rooted in the principles of neuroscience, specifically the role of brain wave frequency in our mental and physical health. By reaching a deep sense of relaxation through techniques such as body scans and progressive muscle relaxation, we can alter our brain waves and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Research shows that NSDR boosts neuroplasticity, enhances cognitive performance, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, decreases anxiety and pain levels, and more. Regular practice yields cumulative benefits as the nervous system learns to tap into deeper states of relaxation.
Benefits of Regular NSDR Practice
As mentioned above, this relaxation method has many benefits.
- Improved sleep quality – enhanced recovery so you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up more refreshed.
- Heightened focus and concentration – Calming mind chatter improves attention span, learning, and working memory.
- Reduced stress levels and anxiety – By activating the body’s relaxation response, you can relieve both acute and chronic stress.
- Increased energy levels and productivity – The deep rest fights fatigue and brain fog, boosting motivation and performance.
- Enhanced emotional resilience – Lower stress reactivity promotes emotional balance, positivity, and perspective.
- Accelerated physical healing – calms the nervous system to speed up tissue repair throughout the body.
- Sharpened cognitive skills – Deep relaxation enhances creativity, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities.
- Improved overall well-being – Greater mind-body awareness deepens self-connection and contentment.
How to Practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest
You can practice NSDR whenever you feel like you need to quickly recharge your batteries, relax your nerves, and clear your mind.
From my personal experience, I find it most beneficial early in the morning when I feel like I haven’t slept well or in the afternoon when the day has been challenging and I need to “plug into a supercharger”.
Some people find it very beneficial in the evening as it helps them wind down, quiet their mind, and even fall asleep faster and easier.
My favourite way to practice NSDR is to follow a guided audio (you can find some of my favourite ones below). If you become experienced with the technique, you can self-guide through it.
A typical duration of an NSDR session is between 10-30 minutes. The main element is the body scanning technique.
Research shows that the more you practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest the more effective and efficient you become at it and the wider range of benefits you’ll gain. To get maximum benefits, it’s recommended daily.
However, as we all know, rigorous practice often becomes a barrier, and many people feel that: If I can’t do it properly, then I won’t do it at all.
For that reason, I recommend using NSDR whenever you need to. If it’s once a week for a quick recharge. That’s fine.
Better once a week than never.
My favourite NSDR Apps and Guided meditations.
Below is a list of my favourite guided NSDR audios/videos.
There are thousands of versions across the internet and YouTube in particular, so find the one(s) that you like the most.
10 Minute versions
20 Minute versions
30 Minute versions
I find that the 30-minute versions have the biggest impact. But when the time is tight 10 minute versions do also help.
In our fast-paced, “always-on” world, stress and exhaustion have become far too common.
Yet quality sleep and rest are absolutely vital for both physical and mental health.
Fortunately, the ancient wisdom tradition of yoga nidra has evolved into the powerful mind-body practice of non-sleep deep rest (NSDR). Now, we can consciously tap into deep restorative states without needing to actually sleep for long hours.
By spending just 10-30 minutes in NSDR daily/regularly, you can recharge your batteries and enhance your sleep, cognitive skills, productivity, and overall well-being.
So why not start trying it out today?
Try out one of the many non-sleep deep rest protocols and make this simple practice a pillar of your self-care routine.
Be patient, stick with it, and soon you’ll be functioning at your highest potential.
I hope this helps.
Common Questions about non-sleep deep rest
Can NSDR boost productivity?
Yes, NSDR can help boost productivity. By engaging in regular NSDR practices, you can reduce stress and promote relaxation, which leads to increased focus, enhanced creativity, and improved overall cognitive function. It allows you to recharge and reset your energy levels, making you more productive and efficient in your daily tasks.
Can you replace sleep with NSDR?
No, NSDR should not be considered a substitute for sleep. While NSDR can help improve the quality of your sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, it is not a replacement for a good night’s sleep. Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and NSDR should be used as a complementary practice to support and enhance your sleep routine.
Is non-sleep deep rest legit?
Yes, non-sleep deep rest is a legitimate and scientifically backed practice. Research conducted by neuroscientists such as Andrew Huberman at Stanford’s Huberman Lab has demonstrated the wide range of benefits associated with NSDR. The practice has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reduce stress levels, and promote overall well-being.
Can you do NSDR while sitting?
Yes, NSDR can be practiced while sitting. Find a comfortable chair or cushion that supports your body and allows you to relax fully. The key is to find a seated position that promotes relaxation and minimizes distractions. Some individuals may find it easier to enter a state of deep relaxation while lying down, but sitting can also be a viable option.
What is the difference between deep sleep and meditation?
The main difference between deep sleep and meditation lies in their state of consciousness. Deep sleep is a natural and essential state of rest during which the body repairs and rejuvenates itself. On the other hand, meditation is a voluntary practice that involves consciously quieting the mind and cultivating a state of present-moment awareness. While both deep sleep and meditation are important for overall health and well-being, they serve different functions in optimizing our physical and mental states.
Is NSDR and yoga nidra same?
Yes, NSDR and Yoga Nidra are essentially the same practice. Yoga Nidra, which translates to “yogic sleep” in Sanskrit, is a form of guided meditation that induces a state of deep relaxation and rejuvenation. It is often referred to as NSDR or non-sleep deep rest because it allows you to experience the benefits of deep sleep without actually falling asleep.
Is NSDR Better Than a Nap?
While both NSDR and napping can provide rest and rejuvenation, NSDR offers a more comprehensive and restorative experience. Napping can be a quick fix for tiredness, but NSDR goes beyond just physical rest. It helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promotes deep relaxation, and offers numerous other benefits such as improved sleep quality, reduced stress levels, and enhanced creativity.
What are NSDR protocols?
NSDR protocols are structured sequences of techniques used during NSDR sessions to induce the deepest possible state of restorative relaxation.
Some common protocols include:
- Yoga Nidra – Rotating awareness through different parts of the body while remaining deeply relaxed.
- Body Scanning – Methodically bringing attention to physical sensations in each part of the body.
- Breath Awareness – Following the natural inhale and exhale of breath.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Alternately tensing and releasing muscle groups.
- Sleep Meditations – Combining mantras, imagery and mindfulness to mimic sleep.
Following a structured NSDR protocol keeps your mind focused during the session. Over time, you may develop your own personalized practices. But it’s good to start with evidence-based protocols to maximize your chances of entering a deeply restorative state.
When is the best time to practice NSDR?
NSDR can be done anytime you want a quick recharge. It’s great before bed to improve sleep quality. During the day it boosts energy and productivity. Do it post-workout to accelerate muscle recovery.
How often should I do NSDR?
Ideally, aim for 10-20 minutes of NSDR daily. Consistency is key to experiencing the full benefits. But even occasional short sessions provide benefits as well
How long until I notice a difference?
You should feel short-term benefits instantly after your practice. However, the long-term benefits build cumulatively so expect to notice initial effects like improved sleep and lower stress within the first 1-2 weeks if done daily. Longer-term practice unlocks deeper transformation.
Are there any risks?
NSDR is very safe when practised correctly. Just avoid while operating vehicles/machinery since it induces an altered state of consciousness. Check with your doctor if you are recovering from a serious medical condition.