Meditation and Sleep

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

Meditation and Sleep

Postby SamKR » Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:05 am

Do regular meditators have experience of having less need of sleep? Does their sleep hours reduce?
Also, if you practice observing sensations do you tend to observe (without conscious intention) the sensations during the sleep too?
Could you share your experiences...
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Re: Meditation and Sleep

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:29 am

In my personal experience, an hour of meditation reduces the need for sleep by an hour. I rarely do more than 2 hours in a day tho.

I have not experienced mindfulness extending into sleep. I have on a number of occaisions awoken in a deep meditative state though, which is a truly weird experience.
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Re: Meditation and Sleep

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:59 am

Hi Sam
Generally, yes. The longer I have meditated, the less sleep I need. However that changes if my work is particularly physically demanding or I swim on the day. Then, I need more sleep for my body to recover on that day or the days after it.
Yes, one can become aware of sensations during sleep. Sometimes it happens when I am on retreat or from time to time in daily life when my practice seems to be firing particularly well. I've also had the experience of meditating throughout my sleep. As you know, during the 10-day course you are given instructions on maintaining awareness of sensation while you are falling asleep and also when you first wake up. Eventually, this awareness will creep into your sleep state more and more. Don't stress about it if you are not observing sensations during your sleep. Its more important to focus, initially, on the time you're on the cushion and over time, you'll be able to extend that awareness during other periods of the day and also during sleep.
All the best.

Ben
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Re: Meditation and Sleep

Postby Moggalana » Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:05 pm

SamKR wrote:Do regular meditators have experience of having less need of sleep? Does their sleep hours reduce?

Yes, participants of a traditional three-year-retreat (in the tibetan tradition) are known to have a significant lower need of sleep. After a few weeks or months, it settles somewhere at about four hours per night. A secluded retreat atmosphere, wich provides little sensory input, and the amount of meditation (~12 hours a day?) seems to do the trick.
SamKR wrote:Also, if you practice observing sensations do you tend to observe (without conscious intention) the sensations during the sleep too?
Could you share your experiences...

Once, on my way home from a weekend lecture course with a tibetan lama (Mingyur Rinpoche), I fell asleep in the train, but continued to be aware of my mindstate and the remaining sensory inputs (especially sounds). Mingyur Rinpoche mentioned a technique called sleeping meditation, and I tried to apply it, which seemed to have worked. Check out: http://www.mengstupiditis.com/2009/05/m ... ongey.html
Sounds similar to what Ben mentioned, doesn't it?
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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