Meditating when sleep deprived

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
philosopher
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Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby philosopher » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:09 pm

I find that meditating is much easier and more pleasant when I am alert and well rested, but this is sometimes a rarity. I take walking meditation even when quite sleep deprived and am wondering if there are any specific tips for dealing with fatigue and sleepiness during the practice. I assume it's probably optimal to meditate when well-rested, but oftentimes I have to wake up very early in the morning to have time for my morning meditation before heading out for the day. Meditating in the evening is easier because I can take a nap beforehand. Do you have any tips for scheduling meditation sessions, etc, to deal with this? Do sleepiness and fatigue eventually go away after one has been practicing long enough, so that one can stay alert even when moderately sleep-deprived?

:anjali:
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Clarence
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Clarence » Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:46 pm

There is a tradition in Thailand where, at the end of one's retreat (21days or more), one has to meditate continually for 3 days and nights. Don't know how they do it but sounds pretty cool.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:10 pm

We can learn more by doing what is difficult and unpleasant than we can by doing what is easy and pleasant.

There's no need to go looking for difficulty, but when it comes, make good use of it. When you're really sleep deprived, you may sometimes nod off during meditation. Never mind, that was still a useful session, and better than that extra time spent in bed before skipping breakfast and rushing off to work.
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Kim OHara
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:36 pm

Many people find that a regular meditation practice reduces the need for sleep. I even knew someone, years ago, who meditated one hour per day just so that he needed two hours less sleep per night and gained a whole hour for useful activity. So he said, anyway. :juggling:

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:52 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:We can learn more by doing what is difficult and unpleasant than we can by doing what is easy and pleasant.

There's no need to go looking for difficulty, but when it comes, make good use of it. When you're really sleep deprived, you may sometimes nod off during meditation. Never mind, that was still a useful session, and better than that extra time spent in bed before skipping breakfast and rushing off to work.


Sadhu! I have to wake up between 4 and 4:30 to get in my morning meditation session of 45 minutes. It's ebb and flow really but the venerable's advice is priceless. I must admit though, I had a five year stint where I fought sleepiness just about everyday. Stick with my friend! :heart: :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Dan74
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Dan74 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:03 pm

It can be done. Just keep going!

Sometimes fatigue passes and inspite of being tired one can sit very alert.

Sometimes not.
_/|\_

philosopher
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby philosopher » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:11 am

Thank you all for the advice. In one of Ajahn Munindo's talks I recall him saying that if one is sleepy, sometimes it's best to just take a nap, but I wasn't sure what to do with predictable sleepiness at certain times during the day - i.e. mornings. I appreciate the encouragement. I will practice with the sleepiness and fatigue.

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Last edited by philosopher on Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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marc108
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby marc108 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:55 am

tea! i believe there is a good reason tea is so tightly interwoven into Buddhist culture.

http://www.tea-time.com/home.asp?menuit ... &pageId=87
The story goes that Bodhidharma had taken a vow to spend nine years staring at a wall in constant meditation. Five years into his meditation he experienced extreme tiredness. One day he fell asleep during meditation. Angry on his failure he cut off his eyelids and threw them to the ground. The story goes on that where Bodhidharma's eyelids landed, the first tea plant grew. Committed never to fail again after this incident and thanks to the tea plant extract he had successfully completed the meditation.


Also power naps and sleeping in 1.5 hr intervals.
http://sleepyti.me/
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/hea ... s-rem-nrem
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_nap#Benefits
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."

philosopher
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby philosopher » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:41 am

marc108, thanks for the recommendation about tea. Also, are you referring to polyphasic sleeping? i.e. limiting all sleep to 1.5 chunks to reduce total time spent sleeping? I have experimented with polyphasic sleeping and am always interested to hear others' experiences with it. I wasn't terribly successful on the schedule I chose - one 3.5 "core" sleep at night with 3 20 minute naps throughout the day. On that schedule, every time I'd try to meditate I'd invariably drift off, so I'd always meditate right before naps. Eventually I gave it up though and found that my mindfulness improved dramatically going back to mono- or biphasic sleeping.

:anjali:
philosopher

ps. LOVE that sleepytime website -- thanks! I am well aware of how waking up at different parts of the sleep cycle affect my perceived levels of drowsiness and sleepiness. This is an awesome tool for quick calculations!

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Jay1
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Jay1 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 pm

If I understand correctly, non-rem sleep is equivalent to meditation. It follows that via meditation you'll need less sleep. However, there's that rem sleep that you need couple hours of (or something like that) and it can't be replaced by meditation...

philosopher
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby philosopher » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:41 pm

Jay1 wrote:If I understand correctly, non-rem sleep is equivalent to meditation. It follows that via meditation you'll need less sleep. However, there's that rem sleep that you need couple hours of (or something like that) and it can't be replaced by meditation...


Interesting.. do you know which exact non-REM stage (there are several non-REM stages) is considered equivalent to meditation? I'd be very interested to read more about this.

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Jay1
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Jay1 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:55 am

philosopher wrote:
Jay1 wrote:If I understand correctly, non-rem sleep is equivalent to meditation. It follows that via meditation you'll need less sleep. However, there's that rem sleep that you need couple hours of (or something like that) and it can't be replaced by meditation...


Interesting.. do you know which exact non-REM stage (there are several non-REM stages) is considered equivalent to meditation? I'd be very interested to read more about this.

:anjali:
philosopher


No, I've read about this long time ago when I discovered that I need significantly less sleep. I imagine that easily the first two stages to be covered by meditation, though.

:namaste:

sadhakadharma
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby sadhakadharma » Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:24 am

meditating while sleep deprived. i personally wouldn't recommend it, because the mind is very hazy and disoriented at that point in time (at least for me) which makes it difficult to even begin with solid concentration, and if you're constantly fighting to stay focused and centered amidst that mental fogginess, the meditation never began.

I would say, be well rested, do not make your meditation scheduled and dogmatic. this will lead to clinging of results, which will block you from enter the more profoud layers of awareness. maybe investigate the subtle aspects of your diet and how they affect energy/wakefulness. also, try and free up a little time on your schedule. You could always fit small meditation sessions into the spare free moments, and if you have a day where you are free, try and use these days to go hiking or maybe camping for a day/night. this way you have daily practice, but you could do a one day a week intensive.

the lack of space in modern mans schedule is in my opinion the justification for renunciation. The Dhamma is a meditative path. The training involves prolonged devotional meditation, daily. The householder life in this day and age does not align with this. In Buddhas time, householders could practice the dhamma because of the lack of modern industrialization and commercialization. They usually lived simple quiet lives and had the time and a good environment to develop deep penetrating insight. Our modern culture is one big distraction. Social media, entertainment, news, sports. All of this is sensual pleasure. Yes we can practice mindfulness, but we should keep in mind that in the eightfold path there is "right mindfulness" and "right meditation"

I personally believe the original sangha, the nomadic/homeless sangha needs to be revitalized.

Pinetree
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Re: Meditating when sleep deprived

Postby Pinetree » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:58 pm

This is a fairly comprehensive sleepy advice:



. I assume it's probably optimal to meditate when well-rested,

Not necessarily, if I remember correctly, Ven. Yuttadhammo even mentioned that sleepiness can be a great meditation object.

- Yes, in my experience, and to a certain extent, they go away with gaining meditation experience

- Scheduling is not that important (in terms of when to meditate), but if you find that most of the time you are sleepy, that will slow down your progress, so try to schedule some times when you are less sleepy aswell

- For me, alternating walking and sitting meditation is often easy and helpful, and when I'm sleepy, I reduce the duration, so I may be meditating in 5 minutes batches - walk 5 - sit 5 - walk 5 - sit 5 - walk 5 - sit 5 (and often, after the first 5x4 = 20 minutes, I can meditate longer without being sleepy)

- Doing only walking can be an alternative

- I would avoid stimulants, especially regularly, they mess up with your metabolism and you may end up exhausting your body.

- try to find a balance in your daily schedule so that you are properly taking care of your body and allowing it to rest

Finally, there are many methods, and sometimes, one method will work better, other times, another method will help.


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