Q+A with Tamara: How to Combat Sleepiness during Meditation

“I keep falling asleep while using the app. As a result I remember almost none of the training.

And I have to listen to the same training (say, day 3) again and again in order to really understand the technique. Is such reaction typical? Is there a way to change this?

-Andrey S.


Great question Andrey.

It’s not uncommon to become sleepy during meditation because for many of us, it’s the only time of day our mind and body settles into a relaxed state.

With the cessation of physical and mental activity our body allows itself to feel the extent of our fatigue. It’s great to have this awareness, but it’s important to remain alert and mindful during meditation. Otherwise, as you suggest, we aren’t able to train and practice effectively.

Here are six techniques you can practice to combat sleepiness:

  1. Maintain proper posture. Maintaining good posture has a great deal do with how alert you are during your sit. Straighten your spine so it’s nice and tall, and each time you notice yourself beginning to slouch due to fatigue, imagine a string at the top of your head pulling you up. When you straighten your back, it will help to maintain alertness.

  2. Don’t meditate on a full stomach. If you’ve just eaten a large meal, that could attribute to fatigue. Try eating lightly before you meditate, or wait for about an hour after consuming a large meal. 

  3. Deep conscious breathing. When you notice yourself getting tired, take a few conscious deep breaths. It can also help to note the breath: Try silently noting to yourself that you’re breathing in and breathing out. Each time you breathe in, say to yourself the words, “breathing in,” and each time you breathe out, say to yourself the words, “breathing out.”

  4. Open your eyes. In order to prevent sleepiness, you can ever so slightly, open the eyes so you’re gazing ahead of you just a few feet. The light hitting your retina will help you stay alert, but make sure not to pay attention to what’s in your line of vision. Once you feel more alert, you can continue your practice with your eyes closed.

  5. Choose the right time to practice. Last, make sure you’re meditating at the best time for you. If you’re meditating at night and feeling tired, you may want to try switching to a morning practice. Different people feel more sharp and alert at different times of day, so test out practicing at various times to see which time of day enhances alertness.

Best of luck!
Tamara


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