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Non-sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) and Yoga Nidra: An Exploration of the Benefits of Mindful Rest

In our fast-paced world, where productivity and efficiency are highly valued, rest has often become neglected. However, research has shown that rest is essential for optimal health and well-being. Non-sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) and Yoga Nidra are two practices that offer a unique form of rest that can have profound benefits for both the mind and body.

NSDR is a state of rest that is deeper than sleep, yet one remains awake and aware. This state can be achieved through various practices such as meditation, visualization, and conscious relaxation. The benefits of NSDR include reduced stress and anxiety, improved immune function, increased creativity and intuition, and improved cognitive function [1].

Yoga Nidra, also known as "yogic sleep," is a guided meditation practice that leads one into a state of NSDR. In this practice, one is guided through a series of body scans and visualizations, allowing the mind and body to fully relax and release tension [2]. Research has shown that regular practice of Yoga Nidra can lead to reduced stress and anxiety, improved sleep quality, and increased feelings of well-being [3].

Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has discussed the benefits of NSDR and Yoga Nidra in several of his lectures and podcasts. In one of his podcasts, he explains how NSDR can lead to an increase in the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that plays a crucial role in brain plasticity and learning [4]. He also discusses how Yoga Nidra can activate the parasympathetic nervous system,

Downregulating the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is important for overall health and well-being. The SNS is responsible for our body's "fight or flight" response, which is triggered when we are faced with stressful situations. In contrast, the PNS is responsible for our body's "rest and digest" response, which helps us relax and recover from stress. Chronic activation of the SNS can lead to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety. By activating the PNS through practices like NSDR, we can counteract the negative effects of chronic stress and promote relaxation, which can help improve our overall health and well-being.[5].

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, NSDR and Yoga Nidra can also be helpful in managing chronic pain and improving overall physical health [6]. These practices can be incorporated into one's daily routine as a way to promote rest and relaxation, which can have a positive impact on both mental and physical health.

In conclusion, Non-sleep Deep Rest and Yoga Nidra are two practices that offer a unique form of rest that can have profound benefits for both the mind and body. Incorporating these practices into one's daily routine can promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and increase overall feelings of well-being.


  1. Centenary Edge. (2021, May 25). Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR): What Is It And How to Achieve It. ://

  2. Sharpe, E., Lacombe, A. (2021). A closer look at Yoga Nidra: Sleep Lab Protocol. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, (31), 97-106. doi: 10.17761/2021-D-20-00004

  3. Innes, KE., Bourguignon, C., Taylor, AG. (2005). Risk Indices Associated with the Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease, and Possible Protection with Yoga: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, 18(6), 491-519.

  4. The Huberman Lab Podcast. Episode 11: Neural Mechanisms of Deep Rest. Accessed April 16, 2023.

  5. The Huberman Lab Podcast. Episode 19: Rest, Recovery, and Yoga Nidra with Chelsey Korus. April 16, 2023.

  6. Koley M, Satish Kumar KV, Bhargava R. Effect of yogic practices on subjective well being. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2004;48(1):59-64.


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