Meditation as a Partial Alternative to 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.
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Ren
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Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by Ren » Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:58 am

Some weeks after starting a night shift work (finally found a job! correct livelihood is one of eight afterall...) I have had trouble going to sleep some days.

A few days ago, I gave up and decided to stop trying to go to sleep and meditate instead. I meditated for ~1 hour straight and around 2 hours total. Later, I got some actual sleep. The next day I slept as usual. The day after that, I meditated and then slept.

It has worked wonderfully. ^^

Is there a formal practice, sutta, book, study or personal experience regarding using meditation as a partial alternative to sleep?

Caodemarte
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by Caodemarte » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:35 pm

You can find old meditation advice that recommends doing a meditation session if one suffers from insomnia or wakes up in in the night since one should not waste the time. I don’t know of any longer or specific texts on the subject, probably because the emphasis is usually on staying awake.

However, I have often heard that properly done meditation is more restful than sleep. I find that this reduces the need for sleep, but if I am rested before going to bed it may interfere with falling asleep so I mediate a half hour to hour before sleep (this is not quite your situation).

I have also been told that if one can lightly hold the meditation method with eyes closed, laid out in bed, one can quickly have a deep sleep and wake up with the meditation method.

Garrib
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by Garrib » Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:36 pm

Sometimes I notice that "my" mind continues chattering away constantly while I sleep - it is really, really annoying, and frustrating! A good meditation session (for me) is one in which the thinking mind calms down considerably - The body needs rest yes, and sleep (or even relaxation) can provide this. But I think the mind needs rest too - rest from worrying, thinking, fantasizing, and so forth. Even relatively small breaks in the monotonous onslaught of thinking can be incredibly rejuvenating, in my experience. If you could abandon thinking completely through practicing Jhanas, you might be able to get by on relatively little sleep.

dharmacorps
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:10 pm

I notice during periods where I have been meditating a lot and things are going well, concentration is on point, etc, that I need less sleep, and the sleep I do have is lighter. Sometimes I lie on my right side and watch the breath and can't tell if I am asleep or in meditation but it is restful anyway. It is often dreamless. But then if my meditation isn't going well, I can have trouble sleeping and will wake up a lot.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:45 pm

Garrib wrote:
Sun Oct 08, 2017 2:36 pm
Sometimes I notice that "my" mind continues chattering away constantly while I sleep - it is really, really annoying, and frustrating! A good meditation session (for me) is one in which the thinking mind calms down considerably - The body needs rest yes, and sleep (or even relaxation) can provide this. But I think the mind needs rest too - rest from worrying, thinking, fantasizing, and so forth.
I think this is the key to the effect that everyone here (so far) has noticed: that meditation can replace some of the need for sleep.
Years ago I knew someone who reckoned his only reason for continuing with meditation was that it gave him more productive hours in every day - if he meditated one hour, he was happy with 5 hours' sleep but if he didn't meditate, he needed 8 hours' sleep. Net gain: 2 hours per day. :smile:

:namaste:
Kim

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bodom
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by bodom » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:22 pm

The Buddha is said to have only slept four hours a night. Ajahn Chah spoke of needing less and less sleep the more he meditated as his mind was in a continuously restful state he could do without. However those of us laypersons who work 40-50 hours a week at work, and even more so those with a physically demanding job, sleep is of vital importance. Personally as i am one of the above i wouldnt forgo sleep to meditate, but as one who sometimes struggles with insomnia, i will meditate if im unable to. So to sum up, i would say those who are able to access deeper levels of concentration and 'rest' the mind would be able to forgo sleep for meditation. If not, get some rest.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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BasementBuddhist
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by BasementBuddhist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:14 pm

I get at most 5hrs of sleep a night because of my work schedule. I find a good solid block of meditation on waking up really helps.

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Ren
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Re: Meditation as a Partial Alternative to Sleep

Post by Ren » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:21 am

It seems it was documented. Thanks for all the contributions ^^

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