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25 Nov 2011

Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

Meditation results in a deeper relaxation of our minds. Benefits of meditation are so widespread and well known. So is it possible to eliminate the need of sleep with meditation? Is meditation superior to sleep?
The short answer is NO. And we will see why.

There are many experiments designed to test the effects of meditation. Bruce O'Hara, from the University of Kentucky conducted one such experiment. He gave a vigilance test to his subjects. Then he repeated the same experiment following a period of conversation, meditation and napping. He was amazed that all of his subjects performed better after meditation than any other activity including sleep. But when he repeated the test after one hour, it showed that the positive effect was short lasting. O'Hara conducted further studies and concluded that it takes two hours of meditation to replace one hour of sleep.

Meditation vs Sleep
The reason for the confusion between meditation and sleep lies in the assumption that they are both equal. Sleep occurs in different stages of light and deep sleep. Sleep is characterized by delta waves. During sleep our bodies relax and the minds switched to 'auto pilot'. This restful state is required to restore damaged cells and tissue.

Meditation produces theta waves in the frontal area highlighting deep relaxation. Alpha waves appear on the posterior part of the brain and signifies wakeful rest. There is hardly any delta waves during meditation.

Despite leaving your mind rested, meditation and sleep are two different forms of relaxation. So you might feel refreshed after a period of meditation, but it is not a substitute for sleep.

Meditation can improve your sleep
Sleep and meditation compliment each other. When you sleep well, it helps to meditate better. And meditation enhances the sleeping experience in more than one way. During meditation the serotonin levels in your body goes up. Low serotonin levels are linked to insomnia and depression. Those who meditate regularly sleep better. Meditation increases the REM sleep. Meditation can also be used just prior to sleep at night. It can calm your body, so you can quickly fall asleep and attain deep sleep. Meditation during the day can help you get through your work with less tension.

Share your own experiences on the effects of meditation on sleep.


  1. i just wanted to say that this site is one of the better sites there is. belive it or not but i feel suicidal at night when im in bed. there are those days i wonder if a bullet in the head is the only option for rest. I hate going to sleep cuz of what i feel at night. this is the reason i cant have a ordinary job and i hate myself for it. im forced to live poor cuz of this curse. my girlfriend falls asleep in les then 15min, im all alone at night, i close my eyes for 3-6 hours before i fall asleep. i hope that every single living thing on this planet gets the rest they deserve. its now 03:40 in Sweden, i pray that ill go to sleep soon.

    1. Thanks for your comments about the blog. We always try to bring the best sleep tips in an easy to understand format.

      Going back to your problem with insomnia, have you discussed your problem with your doctor? Do you fall asleep during the day?

    2. You should try Melatonin supplements. It helps with insomnia. It's not a drug so you don't get dependent on it:

    3. medicinal cannabis may help your problem a lot, i have extreme anxiety and depression. i just cant stop thinking and calm my mind to relax at all. Cannabis has helped me to live a good and enjoyable life. but it is not for everyone. it worked wonders for me.

  2. I guess Melatonin is not a "drug" as it is produced in the body ( to make you sleepy). But if you take it regularly i believe that the body adapts and don't produce it. Now it does not need to because there is already enough. So in the long run, if you take it, you will basically be back to where you started, only you need to pop Melatonin to get to bed.

  3. I have been meditating for a couple of years now, and I work really early in the morning (like 4am early) and to make a long story short I get home at 1am. Knowing full and well that I couldn't get up after being asleep for such a short period of time, I did a test. See, this situation had happened before, and I was tired once 8 or 9 am came around and I was in absolutely terrible shape. So for a half hour, I meditated before going to work (without sleep, mind you.) That day, I was not tired until about 2 or 3 pm. So there is, in my opinion, a level of rest obtained, rest assured not the full amount that you get with a good night's rest, but still a level that can be acquired with enough experience. I have since started meditating after I wake up for work, and I have a lot more energy during the day then I would if I hadn't of mediated.

  4. Hello everyone, please read this, choose if it is correct, or incorrect, and if you think it is correct, then tell other people about it. Sleep tight ��


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