One of the best ways to unwind, reduce tension, and let go is meditation. Undoubtedly, a lot of people had attempted meditation, but some of them quit up after discovering that they invariably fell asleep during it.
In fact, meditation may be a bit too successful at promoting calmness. In some circumstances, it may even induce sleep.
If you’ve practiced meditation for some time, you’ve probably encountered this situation. So how can you maintain your calm while staying awake?
The relationship between sleep and meditation
It has been demonstrated that meditation increases happiness and enhances sleep.
While there is a lot of evidence to back up the advantages of meditation for sleep, there is less proof to back up the reasons why you might feel tired when you’re sitting on your cushion.
Several potential causes include:
- Meditation and sleep have comparable brainwave patterns
- Sleep deprivation or daytime fatigue
- Eating too soon after practicing meditation
- Practicing meditation in bed or the bedroom
- Exhaustion caused by stress or disease
In some instances, meditation states resembled sleep phases 1 and 2, or non-REM sleep.
Additionally, researchers found that when compared to resting states, alpha brain waves increased at all meditational depth levels.
Some researchers observed an increase in theta waves and a decrease in core beta and low gamma waves in deeper states. In other words, brain waves associated with relaxation increased whereas brain waves associated with high alertness and problem-solving decreased.
Essentially, it was discovered that meditation was a type of consciousness that was separate from both alertness and sleep but possessed traits of both. The EEG findings indicate that it is roughly in the middle.
When you meditate, you play on the thin line between concentration and relaxation, awakeness and sleep. You might occasionally veer a little too much toward sleep if you practice consistently enough.
Sleep deprivation or daytime fatigue
One result of meditation is that it helps you become aware of things you would not have previously noticed. This is a general advantage, while it could initially have some negative effects.
Your body may respond to your meditation practice by inviting you to get some much-needed rest if you’re already worn out, worried, overburdened, or lacking sleep.
If you’ve always been a type A or a go-getter, it could take some time for your body to get used to the novelty of being motionless.
And if you enjoy staying up late, your meditation routine might shed some light on the negative affects being a night owl has throughout the day.
You’re probably receiving a signal that you need more rest and relaxation (R&R) in your life if you find that you have to fight to stay awake while meditating.
Eating too soon after practicing meditation
A feeling of tiredness can frequently be brought on by a full stomach. If you ate a huge dinner, your body may be working extra hard to digest the food afterward. The digestive process might drain mental energy and contribute to some mental fog.
Practicing meditation in bed or the bedroom
Many people do meditation in their beds. However, your brain may receive a cue to take a nap if you meditate in bed.
Even if you’re just close to your bed, this can still be the case. Try to schedule your meditation at a different location as a solution.
Exhaustion caused by disease or stress
Exhaustion is another factor that could be contributing to your meditation-related sleepiness. Your energy levels may certainly decrease over time if your body has been battling an illness or is continuously in a fight-or-flight response to stress.
Chronic stress can result from trauma, sickness, or negative living conditions like racism.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition characterized by excessive exhaustion that doesn’t improve with rest and isn’t brought on by a medical illness, may also be used to explain depletion.
According to one idea, persistent stress may cause adrenal fatigue, a mild form of adrenal insufficiency that may be a sign of Addison’s disease.
Whatever the reason, there is a ton of evidence suggesting that sustained stress can result in weariness.
It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if you think you might have one of the disorders mentioned above in order to get a proper diagnosis and course of treatment.
How to maintain alertness while meditating
The greatest ways to stay awake when meditating can be determined once you identify what may be making you feel sleepy.
To stay energized in your practice, try these strategies:
- Practice outside of mealtimes.
- Practice outside of the bedroom
- Establish a dedicated area for meditation.
- Exercise outside.
- While you are meditating, stand or stroll.
- Ensure that you are getting enough rest and sleep.
- Use a bench for meditation.
- Open your eyes while you meditate.
- When you’re most aware, meditate.
- Remain hydrated.
- Using music to meditate.
- Do brief, repeated sessions.
- Do not struggle.
Even while it would be easy to meditate during your lunch break, it might be more beneficial to do it before you eat.
In this manner, your stomach will be empty and you can postpone eating anything that can make you drowsy until after your session.
If your schedule prevents you from doing your meditation away from a meal, try eating a lighter meal before you go.
Meditate outside of the bedroom
Simply having your bed in your line of sight may cause connections with sleep, as was previously indicated.
Find a place to meditate outside of your bedroom, if you can. You might discover that separating your sleeping area from your Zen zone makes all the difference; it doesn’t have to be elaborate.
Establish a dedicated area for meditation
You may teach your brain to identify a particular location with meditation using the same logic that led you to associate your bed with sleeping.
If you have the space, you can set up a small area of your living room or a spot on the wall just for meditation.
To help induce quiet and create the right atmosphere for mindfulness, consider adding a colorful rug, a singing bowl, a trickling fountain, an encouraging painting, or a statue that makes you think of peace and tranquillity.
Meditating outside is another technique to stimulate your body.
By meditating outside, you will receive more vitamin D than usual. Your senses will become more alert to the life and bustle of the natural world while you meditate outside.
Meditating outside can add an entirely new level, whether it’s due to chirping birds, a gentle wind, or the warmth of the sun shining down on you.
There is a ton of evidence that spending time in nature helps improve mental health, and activities like woodland bathing and cottagecore are growing in favor.
While you are meditating, stand or move.
Try standing up as you meditate for a surefire way to stay awake during your session.
If you like to sit down while working, it can be challenging to fall asleep when standing up, but it also provides an opportunity to improve circulation and extend your body.
You can even try walking meditation to take it to the next level, which involves slow, purposeful movement timed with the breath to create a sense of attentive present.
Ensure that you are getting enough rest and sleep.
It’s possible that falling asleep during meditation is merely a natural part of learning the art of alertness. If you routinely struggle to stay awake during your sessions, there might be a more serious issue at play.
It’s crucial to avoid acting valiantly and pushing through exhaustion. That is not the purpose of meditation.
If you feel like you need more sleep, pay attention to your body and think about your sleeping patterns.
Also keep in mind that rest and sleep are two separate concepts.
Even if you receive the required amount of sleep each night, your lifestyle or circumstances throughout the day may still be wearing you out.
If you can, schedule a separate period of rest throughout the day from your nightly sleep. This can be accomplished by taking breaks from work, going for short neighborhood walks, or just relaxing with a hot beverage.
Apply a bench
A very physical strategy that can help prevent tiredness is using a meditation bench.
Because meditation benches are often made of wood and are firm, it is challenging to become too comfortable and nod off.
On a meditation bench, you have to work a little harder to maintain your balance, so the extra effort can also keep you awake.
Keep your eyes open as you meditate.
Try switching to open-eye meditation if you’ve been doing meditation with your eyes closed. Your brain may receive a signal from this indicating that it is time to awaken.
Choosing a specific area to concentrate on while you meditate with your eyes open may be beneficial. Typically, it’s advised to look around two or three feet in front of you with a soft focus.
Meditate when you’re alerted
There is no ideal time of day to meditate, and you don’t have to force yourself to stay awake at your drowsiest hour.
Instead, make the most of your natural alertness by practicing meditation throughout that time of day.
To enhance your chances of staying awake while you meditate, choose a time when your energy levels are high, whether it’s just after your morning shower, just before lunch, or in the evening after the day is through.
Water consumption has many advantages.
According to research, dehydration can impair cognitive performance and cause people to feel anxious, depressed, angry, tired, and confused.
You can stay alert, focused, and in a better mood by drinking water before and after your meditation session.
It won’t harm you to spritz some cold water on your face as a last resort if hydrating doesn’t work.
Listen to music while you meditate.
Additionally, using a guided meditation might keep you alert. You can get just the right amount of stimulus from the additional auditory information to be alert and focused without being overwhelmed or distracted.
Practice frequently and briefly.
Numerous studies contend that brief daily practices produce behavioral impacts that are comparable to those of longer, more intense practices. Additionally, you have a lot less chance of dozing off during a brief session than you would if you were sitting for extended periods of time.
Defy your will
There’s no need to resist if you’re having trouble staying awake in the middle of a meditation session. You won’t receive a medal for remaining alert throughout every sitting period.
It’s highly possible that if you feel drowsy, your body is just trying to tell you that it needs a little more sleep. Allowing oneself to nap is okay if you have the time and space.
You’ll probably learn to better control your energy and awake state as you develop your practice. You can’t speed the process or force it at the same time.
Accept that you’re dozing off for the time being. Have faith that as you keep practicing, you’ll gradually gain more control over your state of mind.