Could Sensate be the Answer?
Stefan Chmelik is co-founder of and inventor of the Sensate stress reduction system, which is based on his over three decades of clinical experience working with anxiety, stress and trauma. His mission is now the company's mission - to positively impact the lives of 100 million people by 2025.
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Have you heard about Non-Sleep Deep Rest? It is a new term popularised by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiologist at the Stanford School of Medicine, to describe a protocol for resting your mind and body during the day designed to reduce stress, feel calm and fall asleep more easily, and backed by scientific research.
Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) is a term coined by Dr. Andrew Huberman to describe certain self-directed states of calm. Sundar Pichai , CEO at Google,also recently shared that he is a big fan of NSDR.
By learning how to relax through Non-Sleep Deep Rest protocols, you can learn to control the mind through the body, giving you the ability to control stress and anxiety.
As Huberman says, ‘You can’t use the mind to control the mind’: You cannot control thinking with thinking. But we can calm the mind by relaxing the body. And this is where NSDR and techniques with the same rationale come in.
To transition from alertness to sleep the body needs to relax so that the mind can follow. This is the power of Sensating. Using your Sensate daily does exactly what it says on the box, Relax, and is an easy, simple and enjoyable way to gain the benefits of NSDR without having to learn the three techniques Huberman advises for NSDR (Hypnosis, Yoga Nidra, a Short Shallow Nap) as it provides all three in the one session.
Here are some other tips from the Team Sensate:
NSDR can be achieved through various techniques and practices, some of which include:
Meditation: There are various forms of meditation, such as mindfulness, loving-kindness, and transcendental meditation, that can help you achieve a state of deep relaxation. Practising meditation regularly can help reduce stress, improve focus, and promote a sense of calm.
Yoga Nidra: Also known as yogic sleep, Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation practice that leads you through different stages of consciousness, allowing you to enter a state of deep relaxation without actually falling asleep. This practice is believed to offer benefits similar to sleep, such as stress reduction and rejuvenation.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): PMR is a technique in which you sequentially tense and relax different muscle groups in the body. This practice helps to release tension and promotes a sense of relaxation throughout the body.
Deep Breathing Exercises: Engaging in deep, slow, and controlled breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's relaxation response. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
Visualization: Also known as guided imagery, visualization involves mentally picturing calming or restorative scenes, like a peaceful beach or serene forest. This practice can help you relax your mind and body, leading to a state of deep rest.
Non-Sleep Deep Rest practices can provide several benefits, such as improving focus, reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing overall well-being. These techniques can be used in combination or individually, and regular practice can enhance their effectiveness.
In addition to Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR), there are other types of rest that can provide physical, mental, and emotional benefits. These types of rest may include:
Sleep: Sleep is the most obvious and essential form of deep rest. It allows the body and mind to recover from the day's activities, helps consolidate memories, and contributes to overall well-being. Prioritizing good sleep hygiene, including maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime, can improve the quality of your sleep.
Napping: Short naps during the day can provide an opportunity for the body and mind to recharge, particularly when they are limited to 20-30 minutes. Napping can help improve alertness, reduce fatigue, and enhance mood.
Quiet time: Setting aside time for quiet reflection, reading, or engaging in a calming hobby can provide mental rest and help reduce stress. This type of rest may not be as deep as sleep or NSDR, but it can still contribute to overall well-being.
Social rest: Interacting with supportive friends and family members can provide emotional rest by allowing you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Feeling understood and valued can help reduce stress and improve mental health.
Active rest: Engaging in gentle physical activities, such as stretching, light yoga, or leisurely walks, can provide a form of active rest. This type of rest helps to loosen tight muscles, improve circulation, and promote relaxation without taxing the body.
Sensory rest: Limiting exposure to environmental stimuli, such as noise, bright lights, or screens, can provide sensory rest. This type of rest allows your senses to recover from overstimulation, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Mental rest: Taking breaks from mentally demanding tasks or engaging in activities that require minimal mental effort can provide mental rest. This type of rest allows your mind to recover from cognitive strain and can help prevent burnout.
To achieve optimal well-being, it's important to incorporate a variety of restorative practices into your routine. This can include a combination of sleep, NSDR, and other types of rest that cater to your individual needs and preferences.
What about boredom? I’ve been reading that boredom is essential for my brain to recharge and also to make space for creativity.
Boredom is an emotional state characterized by a lack of interest, engagement, or stimulation. It is generally not considered a type of rest, but it can indirectly lead to rest or have restorative effects under certain circumstances.
While boredom may not be a pleasant experience, it can serve as an opportunity for the mind to wander and engage in creative thinking or problem-solving. During periods of boredom, the brain can switch to a "default mode network" (DMN), a pattern of brain activity that occurs when the mind is not focused on a specific task. This state allows for mental rest, self-reflection, and introspection, which can be beneficial for personal growth and emotional well-being.
Boredom can also act as a signal that you need a change in your environment, routine, or activities. It can motivate you to seek out new experiences or challenges that can be more engaging and fulfilling. In this sense, boredom can indirectly lead to rest by encouraging you to engage in activities that are more restorative or better suited to your needs.
However, it is important to note that boredom is not inherently restorative. If boredom persists and is not addressed, it can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, or even depression. It's essential to recognize and respond to boredom by finding ways to re-engage with your environment or seek out new experiences that provide mental, emotional, or physical stimulation.
Can there be too much of a good thing? Whether rest, sleep, or even boredom – can too much rest be an indicator of something else?
Yes, there can be too much of a good thing, including rest, sleep, and boredom. While these states can be restorative and beneficial in moderation, excessive amounts may indicate underlying issues or contribute to negative outcomes.
Too much rest: Chronic inactivity or excessive rest can lead to physical deconditioning, muscle atrophy, and reduced cardiovascular fitness. It may also contribute to feelings of lethargy, low mood, and reduced motivation. Engaging in regular physical activity is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.
Too much sleep: While adequate sleep is crucial for physical and mental health, excessive sleep (known as hypersomnia) can be a symptom of an underlying health issue or sleep disorder. Conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy can cause excessive sleepiness. Additionally, consistently sleeping too much may lead to negative health outcomes, such as increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Too much boredom: Persistent boredom can be a sign of dissatisfaction with one's environment, routine, or activities. It may also indicate an underlying mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety. If boredom becomes chronic and interferes with daily functioning or overall well-being, it is essential to address the underlying causes and seek professional help if necessary.
In summary, while rest, sleep, and boredom can be beneficial in moderation, excessive amounts may indicate underlying issues or contribute to negative outcomes. Striking a balance between rest and activity, as well as addressing any persistent or extreme states, is crucial for maintaining overall well-being. If you are concerned about excessive rest, sleep, or boredom, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying causes and develop an appropriate plan of action.
In conclusion, understanding and incorporating various types of rest, including NSDR, can significantly enhance your overall well-being. Embracing boredom as an opportunity for creativity and self-reflection can also be beneficial. Remember, moderation is key; maintaining a healthy balance between rest and activity is essential for a fulfilling and healthy life. So, take the time to explore these restorative practices and make them an integral part of your daily routine. Happy resting!
Non-Sleep Deep Rest References
- Training attention for conscious non-REM sleep: The yogic practice of yoga-nidrā and its implications for neuroscience research
- Huberman Lab Podcast #8: OPTIMIZE YOUR LEARNING & CREATIVITY WITH SCIENCE-BASED TOOLS
- The Tim Ferriss Show: Dr. Andrew Huberman — A Neurobiologist on Optimizing Sleep, Performance, and Testosterone (#521)
- Replay of Learned Neural Firing Sequences during Rest in Human Motor Cortex
- Consolidation of human skill linked to waking hippocampo-neocortical replay