man in between meditation and sleep

Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

Before we start – I am no ‘guru’ nor a spiritual expert. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and wanted to start a blog from my perspective of trying to create a daily routine that allows me a glimpse of the stillness they can bring. I try to link out to as many reputable sources within these posts as I can, some of these external links enable me to earn a commission which helps towards the running of the blog.

The human body needs 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 in 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: Differences and Similarities

People sleep to get enough rest and the same calming state is the purpose of meditation.

Regular meditation practice promotes positive changes in the body that are similar to the ones that occur by sleeping. Meditation results in decreased heart rate, increased metabolism, stress reduction, maintaining a good weight, high functioning of the nervous system, and overall develop a good immune system. The same can be achieved by sleeping calmly. The word ‘calm’ is mandatory to experience the above benefits. Disturbed sleep may even cause increased health issues, and bring imbalance to your mind and body.

If you are running out of time and need to compromise your sleep hours to focus on the other tasks, then you are opening the doors of physical and mental problems. Sleeping is not a waste of time; instead, it leads you to the path of everlasting healthiness.

Meditation requires you to be fully conscious, whereas, in sleep, the body and mind remain in the unconscious state. Scientifically, sleep and meditation are inversely proportional.

Your sleep intensity reduces when there is an increase in meditation practice. Beginners, who meditate one to three times a week for 5-10 minutes, may experience sleep promotion and relaxation benefits that are vital for smooth functioning of the body. As your Meditation practice increases, you may notice a decrease in your sleep period. Due to these benefits, meditation has also been known to help fight insomnia.

Therefore meditation is a natural therapy to solve sleep disorders.  Sleep problems arise because of the constant flow of thoughts in your mind. Meditation requires focussing on your breath to have control over the mind. The constant worry about your past, present and future end slowly, thereby preparing your mind to openly accept the life’s experiences. Once you reach this level, you will be able to sleep peacefully. If you do currently suffer from a sleep disorder than a creative way to ease your self into meditation is to do so while lying down the last thing at night.

So, Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

Meditation relaxes your mind and leads you to the path of tranquillity.

Practically, by meditating (especially meditating by lying down), most of you will be on the verge of sleep and this is great practice for falling asleep quickly. One particular effective tactic is visualization meditation, rather than letting your mind unconsciously thinking negative thoughts you can project positive vibrations just before you fall asleep, allowing them to manifest themselves as you sleep.

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.

Charlie Morley

I'm Charlie. I’m not a ‘guru’ or yogi with ten vipassana retreats under my belt. Far from it. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and want to create a daily routine that allows me to be present, mindful and in touch with consciousness and thought I would blog about the process.