Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

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cayley_hamilton
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Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by cayley_hamilton »

Hello, I stopped meditation one year ago because of difficulties and problems. I restarted gently and do no more than 1/2h per day.

4 days ago, I was just thinking about dhamma and just not clinging, then my mind started again to arose with sukha and energy and is concentrated by itself even the night, I was like "ok you're like this problems you had 1 year ago.. now let's just stay calm and eqanimious", and I remained equanimous during the whole time (which is a big progress for me ! :twothumbsup: )

Then at night what happened for 2 days:

Every time sleep comes, my awareness is still here, then I enter in the sleep with awareness for like 3 or 4 seconds and then a hypnic jerk occurs on its own (it could be the whole body who jerks sometimes) and then I'm back in a space of awareness and still no sleep. Sometimes it happens the same thing but with "auditory comments" or kind of "hallucinations" and same -> it ends up with a jerk and the sleep stops. Which means I do not sleep at the end (with or without awareness in any case I do not sleep). Then I tell to myself "ok then just let your mind and body rest in this silence laying down your bed" and I just let it like this. Sometimes I also tell to myself "try to actively mind wander/internally distract yourself" so that this too much awareness will decrease and you'll be able to sleep", but generally it doesn't work and again I just remain still and do nothing instead of sleep.

Eventually the third night I eventually felt asleep with medics. I was not panicked at all during the whole 3 days.

The thing is, I cannot resume py practice if it has sleep consequences? Again I have to stop as I did 1 year ago?

Could long time without sleep damage me (if I didn't took medics the 3rd night for example what could happen)?

Or do I have to learn to "sleep with awareness" ? If so, how, because I have those weird jerks which break entering in sleep by itself? How do long term meditators, with sleep?
narhwal90
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by narhwal90 »

Speaking as moderator here; dharmawheel cannot offer medical/mental health advise. I suggest you would likely be well served by consulting with a doctor with respect to sleep and a teacher with respect to meditation. Personally I have found that isolated do-it-yourself efforts are not productive in the long run.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Kim O'Hara »

I have had a similar experience, but only when I was meditating far more than usual (on a 4-day retreat).
Because of the situation, I had a fairly good idea of the reason and that it wouldn't last, so I didn't need to worry about it. Sleepiness wouldn't have been a problem either, because I wasn't going anywhere, but I wasn't actually sleepy next day anyway.

Many years before that I was doing mantra meditation (Hindu tradition) and a friend told me his main reason for keeping it up was that he needed less sleep: if he meditated 2 x 20 mins per day he only needed 4 or 5 hours sleep each night instead of 8, so it gave him an extra 3 hours of useful waking time every day.
In that same period, I found that 2 x 20 mins was too much for me because it kept me a bit too floaty, too disconnected from daily life. I cut back to once a day and that was fine.

So no, your experience isn't all that unusual.

My interpretation was that meditation removes some of the need for the dreaming sleep that we supposedly use to subconsciously sort out our experiences, and that just sitting was so near total relaxation that we don't need so much physical rest either.

But narhwal's advice is good. Talk to a teacher if possible.

:namaste:
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Last edited by Kim O'Hara on Fri Jan 05, 2024 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Thu Jan 04, 2024 11:14 am Hello, I stopped meditation one year ago because of difficulties and problems. I restarted gently and do no more than 1/2h per day.
People who meditate often assume that therefore whatever other issues they are having are connected with meditation but this isn’t always the case.
Read:
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/parasom ... pnic-jerks
And talk to your doctor
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl ... %20452–453).

https://sleepopolis.com/education/hypna ... g%20asleep.

AFAIK (and obviously we are not sleep professionals here) hypnogogic states are a completely normal part of falling asleep, so are involuntary muscle twitch, etc.

So, the issue is probably related more to the insomnia, I’d get a sleep or psych consult -and- talk to a meditation teacher.

I’ve found that meditation has prolonged my awareness of the hypnagogic state, and sometimes I can be in it for some time while also being conscious.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Queequeg »

I don't know if this is relevant - I found when I was engaging in long, intense practice (10+ hours) I actually didn't need as much sleep, functioning on 4-5 hours and not feeling sleepy at all. I also observed that my waking and dreaming states were not so distinct, if that makes sense.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
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Grigoris
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Grigoris »

If you have been prescribed medication and are meant to take it regularly, then you should.

You do not have to learn "sleep with awareness". It is hard enough doing "awake with awareness", let alone "sleep with awareness". :smile:

Like PadmaVonSambha commented: The sleeplessness may not be connected to the meditation, it may be a case of correlation, rather than cause.

That said, it may be a good idea to meditate early in the day, rather than later at night.

It also may be an idea to look at other types of practice, rather than strict meditation.

Mantra practices, ritual chanting, offerings, etc... can also give the same positive outcomes as meditation, without being strict meditation.

One last thing: If you are taking medication for a bipolar condition, then stopping medication may trigger a manic episode (or withdrawal, which may have similar symptoms). So PLEASE (if you are bipolar or have another metal health condition), continue taking your medication, and if the sleeplessness persists for more than a few days, go see a doctor.

PLEASE
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by seeker242 »

narhwal90 wrote: Thu Jan 04, 2024 1:34 pm Speaking as moderator here; dharmawheel cannot offer medical/mental health advise. I suggest you would likely be well served by consulting with a doctor with respect to sleep and a teacher with respect to meditation. Personally I have found that isolated do-it-yourself efforts are not productive in the long run.
I would agree with that as sleep problems are not inherent to just doing meditation. During retreats where we are doing 10 hrs a day, that is when I get the best sleep I ever get.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Ayu »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Thu Jan 04, 2024 11:14 am ...
Could long time without sleep damage me (if I didn't took medics the 3rd night for example what could happen)?

Or do I have to learn to "sleep with awareness" ? If so, how, because I have those weird jerks which break entering in sleep by itself? How do long term meditators, with sleep?
I believe, these questions cannot be anwered in general without knowing the individual. Every advice could be helpful or be like poison. Giving advice here is like trying to hit a target while being blindfolded.

I only want to add to this discussion, that the general advices in the old scriptures are absolutely not helpful in my case. Seemingly, 2000 years ago yogis tried to access insight by minimizing sleeping time. But that's a really hard remedy.

Modern scientific brain research found out that sleep is a basic important need. It's not at all useless (as they thought in ancient times) and actually many wholesome healthy things happen while we are sleeping. Maybe ancient times were profoundly different from our modern nervous times.

When I was a very young adult, an episode of psychosis was started, because I was unable to sleep for some days. Maybe I slept three hours within four days. And I soon woke up with gross nightmares. Fortunately, I found help in an psychiatric hospital, I took refuge there for one month.

Since that time, for the next four decades of my life, developing the habit of having an undisturbed sound sleep for at least 6 hours is absolutely necessary for my wellbeing. If I try to experiment with any yogic practices that intervene in my natural sleeping flow, I feel really bad. The result of such practices is just like the opposite of what is intended.
cayley_hamilton
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by cayley_hamilton »

Thanks for your answers, but saying that there is no link between meditation and sleep is an error. There is of course a strong causality between them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054695/
In a qualitative study in our laboratory, a meditator who had completed a 3-month Tibetan-style shamatha retreat (12–15 h/day), reported that for the first 2 weeks of the retreat, her sleep duration initially increased to 8 h/night before gradually diminishing to 1.5–3 h/night by the eighth week. Buddhist texts suggest a nocturnal sleep time among proficient meditators of approximately 4 hours.
Between my 1 year break I had no one experience like this. Once I started to re-practice then it started again.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by PeterC »

If you're taking medication and having sleep issues, first see a doctor, eliminate that possibility before worrying about meditation, however clear the relationship might seem. Then, go to your Dharma teacher and discuss the meditation. If you don't have one, find one, etc.

Don't get individualized advice on the internet about your health and your meditation from people who don't know you. It's a really, really bad idea.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Tao »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Tue Jan 09, 2024 6:06 pm Thanks for your answers, but saying that there is no link between meditation and sleep is an error. There is of course a strong causality between them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054695/
In a qualitative study in our laboratory, a meditator who had completed a 3-month Tibetan-style shamatha retreat (12–15 h/day), reported that for the first 2 weeks of the retreat, her sleep duration initially increased to 8 h/night before gradually diminishing to 1.5–3 h/night by the eighth week. Buddhist texts suggest a nocturnal sleep time among proficient meditators of approximately 4 hours.
Between my 1 year break I had no one experience like this. Once I started to re-practice then it started again.
If I understand you well, that "jerking" is not real, they're false signals from your body while aproaching sleep paralysis. I've been there some times, but it's not that easy for me... jerking and voices are common phenomena at that point.

What you relate is a surprinsingly facility without training to be aware while getting slept.

After the jerking will come sleep paralysis and then you will enter deep sleep or lucid dreams, depending on the situation.

It seems you have too much facility to do that, I dont know why and I highly doubt a doctor can help you except with drugs, but you can try.

>my mind started again to arose with sukha and energy

And I think it's related to this.
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Grigoris
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Grigoris »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Tue Jan 09, 2024 6:06 pm Thanks for your answers, but saying that there is no link between meditation and sleep is an error. There is of course a strong causality between them.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054695/
In a qualitative study in our laboratory, a meditator who had completed a 3-month Tibetan-style shamatha retreat (12–15 h/day), reported that for the first 2 weeks of the retreat, her sleep duration initially increased to 8 h/night before gradually diminishing to 1.5–3 h/night by the eighth week. Buddhist texts suggest a nocturnal sleep time among proficient meditators of approximately 4 hours.
Between my 1 year break I had no one experience like this. Once I started to re-practice then it started again.
They asked ONE person and drew conclusions from their account. That is NOT scientific evidence nor is it evidence of causality.

But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that you are not looking for clarification regarding any of the questions you are asking here on the site, you are merely looking to legitimate your rather unusual views.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Tue Jan 09, 2024 6:06 pm Thanks for your answers, but saying that there is no link between meditation and sleep is an error. There is of course a strong causality between them.
There may be
Or there may not be.
It depends in the person.

Meditation might be having some effect on sleep
But might not be what is causing sleep problems. How can anybody here know the answer?

When I can’t sleep, I drink a cup of espresso coffee and then I can sleep. Obviously this is not a remedy for most people.

You might need to balance more meditation with more vigorous physical activity or exercise.

You can ask a sleep doctor and do an overnight sleep study where they can monitor your brain activity.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by Bristollad »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Fri Feb 02, 2024 8:36 am When I can’t sleep, I drink a cup of espresso coffee and then I can sleep. Obviously this is not a remedy for most people.
Hah! Me too. I quickly learned at University, trying to complete essays due the next morning, that coffee acts like sleeping tablets to me! If I need to stay awake, I'm far better off drinking water or squash.
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Re: Please tell me how a meditator is supposed to sleep

Post by kirtu »

cayley_hamilton wrote: Thu Jan 04, 2024 11:14 am Hello, I stopped meditation one year ago because of difficulties and problems. I restarted gently and do no more than 1/2h per day.

4 days ago, I was just thinking about dhamma and just not clinging, then my mind started again to arose with sukha and energy and is concentrated by itself even the night,...
As others have said, we are not medical professionals. Also, if you a have medicine for a sleeping issue then take it. See a doctor first.

For some people (many/most people ?) meditation *CAN* tend to reduce the necessity to sleep (so from 8-12 hrs/day, down to 6-8 hrs per day and even less for some people).

However the type of meditation and it's effects can vary from person to person. I used to practice a Taoist "energy-cultivation" meditation. I could not do this late at night because I would then get less than 4 hrs of sleep on average and over time that would be a problem.

In general, "sukha and energy" arising and "concentrated by itself even at night" from a Taoist POV (I don't know how this would be viewed exactly by a Buddhist medical doctor, like a Tibetan amchi) means that your qi, your vital energy (there's more than one so I should say "vital energies"), is out of balance.

There are different ways that balance can be restored but in general these are exercise (which tends to sort of "drain" qi [except that it mostly doesn't but there is no other good way to describe this - if I said "circulate qi" that would also be not actually correct]), correct diet and eating at the right times and numerous other mundane things. Exercise is probably the best thing overall as it will physically tire you. If real exercise is not doable then take walks.

There are other methods to rebalance yourself but outside of the obvious mundane things, these methods are somewhat esoteric. This sleep effect issue is well-known but I have never really seen a specific Buddhist remedy to it aside from the mundane stuff.

If the mundane methods don't work and the problem persists, go to a big city and find a good acupuncturist/acupressurist (which presents another set of problems) and get treatment.
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