Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

Meditation and sleep are undoubtedly different. Where Sleep serves to recharge your vitality and assist in recovery, meditation, helps us to combat the stress that made us tired in the first place.

Meditation and sleep are both viable ways to relax the mind and recharge the body, but can one really replace the other?

Is Meditation Better Than Sleep?

Meditation cannot replace sleep entirely, but it can help make the sleep you do get more productive. 

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, working full time, or starting your own business, sometimes there just isn’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and feel like you’ve had enough rest. 

If you’ve experienced this, you may have asked yourself if there is a way to fit more recharge time into your day, perhaps with meditation?

A study conducted by Oregon State University’s College of Business suggests that about 10 minutes of meditation replaces about 44 minutes of Sleep.

However, this study is not super conclusive as it only observed overworked people inclined to business who were already somewhat sleep-deprived.

The body is always going to require a good amount of sleep to heal and recharge. Meditation can help you go to sleep fully relaxed and without any stress, the perfect recipe for full, uninterrupted sleep. 

Can Meditation Replace Sleep? - meditating in bed
While meditation can't replace sleep entirely, it can help us fully recharge.

How We Feel Afterward

Rather than feeling sluggish in the morning, meditation helps us wake up fully revitalized.

We typically feel a little slow, dull, and groggy when we wake up in the morning (or even after taking a nap).

On the other hand, we usually feel refreshed and focused after completing a meditation session.

The reason for this is simple: endorphins.

If you’ve ever felt a “runner’s high” you’ve experienced these euphoric hormones.

Meditation boosts these chemicals the same way, with benefits enduring long after each session.

Like joggers hitting the asphalt, day after day, chasing that post-run euphoria, meditation has many of the same properties and is equally addictive in its own right.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep? - women running
Meditation releases endorphins, similar to 'runners high.'

The Breath

As compared to our waking state, during sleep, our breathing is slower and deeper but equal in terms of oxygen intake.

With meditation, as the mind quiets, our bodies require less oxygen to function. Therefore rate of breath will often diminish dramatically.

Researchers have even observed master meditators and yogis having the ability to decrease their physiology down to a level where heartbeats stop entirely.

While your average meditator isn’t looking to perform these kinds of feats, this physiological control level simply isn’t possible with regular sleep.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep? - man yawning
We require less oxygen when meditating.

Awareness & Consciousness

Our level of awareness is another clear distinguishing difference between sleep and meditation.

While meditating, we stay highly conscious of both our surface level and subconscious thoughts.

Due to a relaxed mind, you allow new, creative and insightful thought to bubble to the surface, which you can then take full advantage of.

When we sleep the opportunity to utilize this relaxed state of thinking is mostly taken away from us due to our consciousness not being available to observe it.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep? - light bulb moment
Meditation can help lead to those 'light bulb moments.'

Can Meditation Help Me Sleep Better?

In essence, meditation teaches us to stay rooted in the present, which allows us to avoid the thoughts and feelings that disturb our sleep.

Meditation is commonly practised right before going to bed to assist calm the mind or in the morning to help get the brain clear and focused for the day ahead.

When it comes to sleep, meditation allows you to get into bed without that whirlwind of thoughts that can keep us up, tossing and turning well into the night.

Stress caused by agonizing over the past or worrying about the future is a significant cause of insomnia.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep? - women sleeping
Meditation is proven to help aid in better quality sleep.

What Type of Meditation Can Replace Sleep?

The best type of meditation to help sleep is the one that enables you to relax the most.

This can vary from person to person; however, an excellent place to start would be meditations specifically designed to aid in sleep or body scan meditations like Yoga Nidra which help’s relax the body and prepare’s the mind for rest.

If you cant fit in meditation before bed, then waking up 20 to 30 minutes earlier to meditate in the morning might be the perfect solution.

Meditating in the morning can help you set your intentions for the day, help you feel more awake, and leave your mind disciplined and focused.

Key Facts
  1. 10 minutes meditation can be the equivalent of 44 minutes sleep.

  2. Meditation can release endorphins, making you feel refreshed and focused.

  3. When we sleep we breathe deeper but take in the same amount of oxygen. When meditating we require less oxygen and our rate of breath diminishes.

  4. In meditation we can take advantage of the creative thoughts we have in a relaxed state. These thoughts can’t be observed when sleeping due to us being unconscious.

  5. Meditation reduces stress which is one of the main causes of insomnia.