Home / Blog May 31, 2023 Updated on January 04, 2024

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Non-Sleep Deep Rest: A Guide to This Brain Boosting Tool

Non-sleep deep rest is a state of mind that you can produce via methods similar to meditation. It relaxes the brain, putting it into a restful state similar to what you might experience before falling asleep. There are many reported benefits such as improved cognition, memory, and sleep.

Non-Sleep Deep Rest: A Guide to This Brain Boosting Tool


Non-sleep deep rest is an umbrella term for practices like hypnosis and yoga nidra that produce a calm state of mind and benefits like reduced stress.

Andrew Huberman coined the term in an effort to make yoga and hypnosis practice more accessible to sceptics.

You can try several guided NSDR protocols via smartphone apps. 

Did you know?
The roots of yoga nidra, one type of non-sleep deep rest protocol, can be traced back as far as 700 BC India. The tradition was passed on orally at that time.

Looking for a way to sharpen your mind? Want an easy path to rest and stress-relief?

If that’s you, non-sleep deep rest could be the solution you’ve been waiting for.

The name is new, but the idea is rooted in older traditions like meditation and yoga. All it takes is learning to sit back, relax, and let your mind carry you away to a peaceful frame of mind packed with brain-nourishing benefits

What is Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

Non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) is a relaxed state of mind usually achieved through some form of meditation or mental exercise. You probably already know what it’s like as most people experience a form of NSDR just after the head hits the pillow at night.

Worried about the links to topics like meditation and yoga nidra that may be taboo for some, Andrew Huberman, the Stanford University Neuroscientist, coined the term non-sleep deep rest. He did this in the hopes that it would reach a wider audience and help more people.

What is Non-Sleep Deep Rest

Non Sleep Deep Rest and Yoga Nidra

Chapter 11 in Progress in Brain Research states that yoga nidra is “The ability to enter the deepest, non-REM delta wave sleep while maintaining awareness both internally and of one’s surroundings.”

According to Andrew Huberman, this falls under the larger umbrella of non-sleep deep rest, which also includes forms of hypnosis. However, he stresses that he respects the tradition of yoga nidra and simply wanted to make the practice more accessible

In other words, yoga nidra is a method of producing a state of non-sleep deep rest. This is typically done through guided meditations that ask you to do mental body scans. As you complete the meditation, your mind floats further into this NSDR state.

Non-Sleep Deep Rest Benefits

While non-sleep deep rest is a fairly new term and hasn’t been studied enough to draw scientific conclusions, yoga nidra has.

Here are a few of the potential benefits.

Non-Sleep Deep Rest Helps With Sleep

NSDR protocols help with sleep by relaxing you and even helping you transition to deep sleep. One study from 2017 even found that it helped insomnia patients fall asleep. This may be because hyperactivity in the brain can be one factor leading to insomnia, and non-sleep deep rest helps the brain reach the opposite state.

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Non-Deep Sleep Rest Helps With Learning

Neuroplasticity is, “The ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections.” And studies have shown that NSDR can boost neuroplasticity by 50 percent after a bout of learning, helping you to set those things you learned in stone.

Other Non-Deep Sleep Rest Health Benefits

Non-Sleep Deep Rest can also help with several other aspects of your health including:

  1. Reduced inflammation
  2. Controlling hypertension
  3. Lowering blood glucose levels
  4. Improved focus and performance of athletes
  5. Reduced stress

 How Do You Practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

You can enter non-sleep deep rest via guided meditations or hypnosis. This usually involves a type of body scan that encourages the practitioner to focus on specific parts of their body, one at a time. This gradually leads to a state of non-sleep deep rest.

Non-sleep deep rest can also be similar to hypnosis. Many sequences get the participant to perform actions such as looking up, relaxing the eyelids, and keeping a hand raised while visualizing things in the mind. Before you know it, you’ve shaken the rust off your mind!

There are plenty of yoga nidra routines that can walk you through the process, or you can try certain apps.

Non Sleep Deep Rest Protocol

If you’ve followed Andrew Huberman, you may have heard him refer to protocols for NSDR. There, he’s basically referring to a repeatable way of achieving the state, usually with a guide. Here are a few non-sleep deep rest apps that can act as a guide

  • Reveri – An app that Andrew Huberman himself sits on the advisory board of, along with Stanford’s associate chair of psychiatry.
  • Insight Timer – Another free app that focuses on different types of meditation, some of which can help induce NSDR.
  • YouTube – You can find several free NSDR protocols and yoga nidra routines here. 

When to Practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest

To get the super-charged benefits of non-sleep deep rest, timing is crucial. But deciding on when to take advantage of this practice depends on what your goal is.

Want to cement some information that you just learned? Try a non-sleep deep rest protocol shortly after a study session.

Want to keep your focus meter maxed out throughout the day? Try doing it after lunch, just before a typical dip in focus.

Struggling with sleep? Give NSDR a shot as you lay in bed.

Of course, there are benefits to doing these guided sessions at other times of the day as well, and adding them to your general daily flow may give you access to health benefits and lower stress levels.

When to Practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest


Have more questions? Here are some common ones when it comes to non-sleep deep rest.

What is Non-Deep Sleep Rest?

Not to be confused with non-sleep deep rest (NSDR), non-deep sleep rest can refer to the stages of sleep that occur before and after slow wave sleep. Stage 1 is the shortest of all stages, making up roughly 1-5 minutes at the start of a sleep cycle. Its purpose is to transition the brain toward deep sleep.

The final stage of a sleep cycle that comes after deep sleep is rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). As the brain cycles through the different sleep stages during the night, REM cycles grow longer, making up about 25% of all sleep.

Can NSDR Replace Sleep?

NSDR cannot replace sleep. As the name suggests, it is non-sleep deep rest, meaning that it has some replenishing features, but it’s not the same as even one sleep cycle. This is partly because rapid eye movement sleep occurs at the end of every sleep cycle, something that isn't replicated in NSDR

Missing out on REM sleep means cutting out vital emotional healing and memory consolidation. Also, NSDR has never been confirmed to have the same overall effects of slow wave sleep.


Non-sleep deep rest is an umbrella term that includes things like hypnosis and yoga nidra within. It’s similar to some forms of meditation in that it involves sitting still with your thoughts and focusing on instruction.

Those instructions usually involve temporarily changing your perception through body scans or focusing on words and images in the mind. Giving it a try could lead to plenty of brain boosting benefits, from improved memory to sounder sleep.