Non Sleep Deep Rest aka NSDR

In today's fast-paced world, many people struggle to become more focused and productive. Attaining these attributes requires proper sleep and a healthy lifestyle. However, many people get inadequate sleep due to their busy schedules and commitments. It leads to fatigue, anxiety, and a weakened immune system. It also impairs cognitive functions, making concentrating or thinking difficult. Fortunately, you can cope with these issues by non-sleep deep rest (NSDR). It is a revolutionary concept that goes beyond traditional sleep. It offers a unique and profound method of rejuvenation and replenishment for the body and mind. NSDR holds the key to unlocking this extraordinary potential, allowing you to tap into an effortless yet powerful form of relaxation. It also offers a gateway to deep relaxation that is highly efficient and accessible to everyone. In this blog post, you'll explore non-sleep deep rest. You'll also learn about its benefits and a guide on how to practice it. So, let's dive into it.

What is Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

Non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) is a technique that helps relax the body and mind while avoiding the need for sleep. It involves using techniques such as guided meditation, breathing exercises, and visualization to help users enter a state of deep rest without falling asleep. This technique minimizes brain frequency. It's the same phenomenon that happens during deep sleep. The only difference is that non-sleep deep rest helps you achieve the same benefits without sleeping. NSDR transcends the limitations of traditional sleep by offering a gateway to deep restoration. It is an innovative approach that promises to rejuvenate both mind and body. It taps into the hidden potential of our beings. It unlocks the secrets of true rest, revealing the remarkable capacity of our bodies to regenerate, heal, and thrive beyond the realm of sleep. The term "non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) was coined by a well-known researcher and neuroscientist,  Dr. Andrew Huberman. He has been practicing NSDR for a decade at Stanford University. According to his experience, this practice can restore the body and mind to an optimal state, like sleep. He believes that specific breathing in NSDR puts the body in a deep relaxation state by reducing heart rate. It combines techniques such as guided meditation, focused breathing exercises, and visualization to help users access a deep-relaxation state while avoiding the need to fall asleep.

What’s the Difference Between NSDR and Yoga Nidra?

NSDR has roots in an ancient practice, yoga nidra, that has been around for thousands of years. Yoga nidra, also called "yogic sleep," is a guided meditation technique that takes you into deep relaxation. Yoga nidra, also known as "yogic sleep, the practitioner is guided through a series of body movements and mental exercises designed to reach a state of deep relaxation. Though NSDR and yoga nidra involve similar techniques for relaxation, yoga nidra is more complex. It includes mantras and finding intentions that are not part of NSDR. Here are some more differences between the two practices:

Conscious Awareness

One of the key distinctions between non-sleep deep rest and yoga nidra lies in the level of consciousness maintained throughout the practice. The practitioner remains fully awake and aware in non-sleep deep rest, consciously experiencing deep relaxation. On the other hand, yoga nidra guides you into a state of relaxed awareness, where you are partially conscious but also more receptive to the subconscious mind.

Purpose and Intent

Non-sleep deep rest primarily focuses on attaining deep relaxation, reducing stress, and rejuvenating the mind and body. It offers a break from the constant mental chatter and provides a sanctuary of tranquility amidst the busyness of life. Yoga nidra extends its purpose to self-exploration, healing, and personal transformation while offering deep relaxation. Yoga nidra meditation can help uncover and release deep-rooted tensions, beliefs, and patterns, facilitating profound inner growth and self-discovery.

Precautionary Measures

Yoga nidra is a complex practice and is not meant for everyone. As it taps into a state between consciousness and unconsciousness, it should be practiced under the guidance of a trained teacher. Moreover, people suffering from some mental disorder or traumatic experience should be cautious before attempting yoga nidra. Non-sleep deep rest, on the other hand, is a relatively simpler procedure. You can safely practice it without any special guidance. However, both practices require adequate preparation prior to commencing them.

How does NSDR Work?

Non-sleep deep rest is an experiential practice that requires conscious effort and awareness. It involves lying comfortably, focusing on your breath, and slowly relaxing your body. It consists of brainwave patterns similar to 90 minutes sleep cycle, wherein the brain oscillates between alpha and theta waves. The slow brain wave frequency involves in this practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for the body’s rest and repair. It helps reduce cortisol levels, lowers heart rate, and relaxes muscles. It also helps regulate negative emotions like anger, fear, and anxiety.

Moving from Beta to Alpa Brainwave State

When interacting with our external world, we are in the Beta brainwave state. It is a fast-paced and active brainwave activity that allows us to think, analyze, and act quickly. Most people spend most of their time in the Beta brainwave state unless they are engaged in creative and relaxing activities. In NSDR, when you move into the internal world by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, you enter the Alpha brainwave state. The alpha brainwave state is slower in comparison to the beta wave. As your brainwaves transition to the alpha state, your nervous system relaxes, and you move into a trance-like state.

Alpha Stage

When your brainwaves are in an alpha state, your body is relaxed but somewhat aware of the environment. You can still be aware of any external sounds or felt sensations. It is a soothing and relaxed state in which the brain is more open to positive suggestions. It stimulates the release of serotonin and other hormones that help to relax the body. This state opens your creative mind. You begin to have ideas and feel more creative.

Transitioning from Alpha to Theta Stage

As you move from the alpha state to theta, your brainwave activity slows down even more. It happens after about 20 minutes of relaxation. You may feel your body almost melting into the floor as you relax. Theta brainwaves are associated with deep meditation, dream-like states, and access to the subconscious mind. This stage is much like REM sleep, where you see dreams. The difference is that in this stage, you are conscious and aware. As you enter the Theta stage, you may experience vivid imagery, enhanced creativity, deep insights, and a heightened spiritual connection. This stage is often associated with accessing deeper levels of intuition and healing. You experience visiting past memories, dream-like scenes, and insights that can come up. You experience all these things on a screen in your mind. You can watch these scenes, stories, and visions unfold in front of you. The things that flash in your mind can be negative, positive, or neutral. They are usually a reflection of your inner self and can give insight into what you need now. It is an incredibly powerful state that many people find beneficial for their well-being. You can deepen your understanding of yourself and gain insight into any areas of life you need to work on. It is a healing stage that enables you to tap into past events without charging stress, anxiety, or fear.

Transitioning from Theta To Delta Stage

Transitioning from the Theta to Delta stage in NSDR allows you to reach the deepest levels of relaxation and regeneration. Delta brainwaves are associated with dreamless sleep, physical healing, and rejuvenation. You can experience a deep sense of calm and peace in this stage. It is the stage in which healing takes place, both physically and spiritually. As you enter the Delta stage, your body and mind enter a state of profound rest and recovery. This stage is believed to support cellular repair, immune system functioning, and overall well-being. When your body is at its deepest rest, your mind is unaware of being awake. You may experience a sense of profound stillness and deep rejuvenation. Moreover, you may have a feeling of being completely refreshed upon awakening.

How to Practice NSDR?

NSDR can be practiced anywhere, anytime. It's a simple technique and doesn't require any special equipment. All you need is a comfortable and quiet place to relax your body and mind. Here are the steps to follow to achieve a successful NSDR session:
  • Select a peaceful area where you won't be easily disturbed. Choose a comfortable chair or cushion that supports your posture. Create a soothing ambiance by using soft lighting or candlelight. Disconnect from electronic devices and minimize distractions.
  • Take deep breaths and focus on each inhalation and exhalation. Controlled breathing exercises can induce a deep sense of relaxation. Allow your body to relax by tensing and releasing muscle groups one at a time. Concentrate on all parts of your body and relax completely. Starting from your toes, tense and relax each muscle group, working your way up to your head.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation helps release tension from your body. You need to maintain a relaxed state for 10 to 30 minutes to get the most out of NSDR. This step helps release physical tension, enhances body awareness, and induces a state of deep rest and tranquility.
  • Conscious breathing techniques can profoundly impact your ability to experience non-sleep deep rest. Explore deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing or alternate nostril breathing. These techniques activate the body's relaxation response, lower stress levels, and promote a sense of calmness and balance. Guided meditation and breathwork can expand consciousness, increase self-awareness, and deepen relaxation.
  • After your non-sleep deep rest session, gently awaken your body by slowly stretching and bringing your awareness back to the present moment. Take a few minutes to reflect on the experience and the sense of renewal it has provided. Open your eyes gradually and move your body.

What Does Science Say About NSDR?

Research shows that non-sleep deep rest slows down brain wave frequency. It is the same process that occurs during slow-wave sleep (SWS). It is the fourth stage of sleep and is also called deep sleep. It is crucial for memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. Studies have revealed increased release of growth hormone in this stage, which improves cell regeneration and encourages healing. Moreover, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system and slows down the sympathetic nervous system. The measurements of brain activity show similar shifts in wave frequency between NSDR and SWS. It indicates that non-sleep deep rest can replicate many effects of slow-wave sleep, including improved mood, reduced stress, and increased alertness. These aspects make NSDR a fruitful technique for people who experience difficulties falling asleep or don't get deep sleep. It can help them relax and recharge their bodies and minds without spending hours in bed.

Benefits of Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR)

In our world of constant stress, finding a way to destress is essential. Non-sleep deep rest is a powerful tool to help you achieve that. It brings numerous benefits. Here is an overview of the advantages of NSDR:

Enhanced Mental Clarity

During NSDR, our minds enter a profound state of relaxation. It allows mental clutter and stress to dissipate. Mental clarity potentially helps decision-making, problem-solving skills, and overall cognitive performance. By giving our minds a break from constant stimulation, NSDR enables us to recharge and regain focus, ultimately boosting our productivity and creativity.

Heightened Intuition and Creativity

NSDR provides a unique opportunity for our subconscious mind to process information, connect ideas, and generate new insights. By accessing deeper levels of consciousness, NSDR can unlock our intuition and stimulate creativity. During this profound rest state, our minds can explore uncharted territories. It leads to innovative problem-solving, artistic inspiration, and heightened self-awareness. A study shows that NSDR enhances dopamine production, encourages pleasure and motivation, and helps us reach our goals. It has a calming yet energizing effect on the body that can last for days. The research also indicated improved theta activity in the brain, which may lead to greater mental clarity and enhanced creativity.

Enhanced Learning and Memory

NSDR is a state of deep relaxation and rejuvenation that shares similarities with the benefits derived from traditional sleep. By engaging in NSDR practices, you can experience significant enhancements in learning and memory. Your neural circuitry significantly alters whenever you learn something new. While practicing NSDR, your brain can integrate this new information into its existing structure and make sense of it better. During this practice, the brain consolidates information, strengthens neural connections, and processes experiences, improving cognitive abilities. Whether you're a student, a professional, or someone looking to expand your knowledge, NSDR can help you absorb information more efficiently and enhance memory retention.

Improved Focus

In today's age of distractions, maintaining focus has become increasingly challenging. From electronic devices to everyday activities, it seems like something is always competing for our attention. Moreover, inadequate sleep leads to a short attention span and difficulty focusing on tasks. NSDR offers a valuable solution by improving focus and concentration. By intentionally entering a state of deep relaxation, you can train your mind to filter out distractions and maintain a heightened state of awareness. Regular NSDR practice allows you to hone your focus, leading to increased productivity, better decision-making, and improved ability to concentrate on tasks. According to Dr. Huberman, NSDR replenishes neurochemicals. By increasing dopamine, serotonin, and other neurochemicals, NSDR helps to establish a balance between the mind and body. It, in turn, leads to improved overall health and well-being.

Better Sleep Quality

While NSDR is different from traditional sleep, it complements and enhances the quality of your rest. NSDR techniques can help regulate sleep patterns, promote relaxation, and reduce stress. The deep rest experienced during NSDR allows your body to rejuvenate and repair itself, resulting in a good night's sleep. By incorporating NSDR into your routine, you can bid farewell to restless nights and wake up refreshed and energized. This practice stimulates parasympathetic activation, which is responsible for calming and relaxing the mind and body. It also helps to reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and the time it takes to wake up.

Effortless Stress Relief

Today a lot of people are suffering from stress and anxiety. Chronic stress leads to a weakened immune system, increased risk of depression and anxiety, and other mental and physical health issues. NSDR is a powerful stress reduction tool, going beyond traditional methods such as meditation or relaxation techniques. During NSDR, your mind enters a state of deep relaxation while remaining consciously aware. This profound relaxation helps release built-up tension, promoting a sense of calmness and tranquility. By allowing your mind to enter a state of non-active awareness, NSDR enables you to let go of stress and worry, ultimately leading to a more balanced and rejuvenated state of being.

Fitness Performance

NSDR can also have a profound impact on your fitness performance. During physical exercise, your body undergoes stress and fatigue. NSDR aids in post-workout recovery by allowing your body to enter a state of deep relaxation, promoting muscle repair, and reducing inflammation. Additionally, NSDR techniques can improve your mind-body connection, leading to better coordination, balance, and overall athletic performance. Whether you're a professional athlete or a fitness enthusiast, NSDR can provide the competitive edge you need to excel.

Enhanced Pain Management

NSDR has demonstrated remarkable benefits in managing and alleviating various types of pain. NSDR enables the body to activate its natural healing mechanisms by inducing deep relaxation. During this process, endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, are released. They offer relief from chronic pain conditions and acute discomfort. The meditative aspects of NSDR can also help redirect attention away from pain, reducing its perceived intensity and allowing for a greater sense of comfort and well-being.

Can NSDR Boost Your Productivity?

NSDR can be beneficial for those looking to boost their productivity. It significantly improves your concentration on workplace tasks. It gives your body and mind a chance to rest and recover from the stresses of work. Engaging in NSDR can also help to improve your focus and productivity in the long term. Furthermore, it can help to reduce fatigue and increase energy levels, allowing you to stay alert and productive throughout the day. Additionally, it can help to improve your cognitive performance and decision-making ability, allowing you to think more clearly and make better decisions. By adding NSDR into your daily routine, you can increase your mental clarity and efficiency.


The concept of "non-sleep deep rest" presents a fascinating perspective on well-being that extends beyond traditional notions of sleep. By exploring alternative methods to achieve deep rest, individuals have the opportunity to tap into the profound benefits of relaxation and restoration, even without conventional sleep. Embracing the potential of non-sleep deep rest opens up new avenues for individuals to optimize their lives and enhance productivity. With its versatile nature, NSDR has the potential to be an effective and powerful tool in promoting mental and physical well-being. So, if you are looking for a way to improve your overall health, give non-sleep deep rest a try.


What is the difference between sleep and NSDR?

Sleep is a period of unconsciousness. In contrast, NSDR is an active process that involves slowing down your body and mind to reach a deep state of relaxation.

What does Huberman recommend for non-sleep deep rest?

Huberman recommends guided meditation, breathwork, and body scanning as techniques for achieving non-sleep deep rest.

What is the meaning of NSDR sleep?

NSDR stands for Non-Sleep Deep Rest. It refers to a state of relaxation that can be achieved without conventional sleep. It is a process of slowing down brainwaves to reach a deep state of relaxation.

What is the NSDR protocol for sleep?

The NSDR protocol is a set of practices designed to help individuals achieve non-sleep deep rest. These include breathwork, body scanning, and guided meditation.

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