It sounds counterintuitive: a power nap without the shut eye. But Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) promises to do just that by inducing a state of deep relaxation, that’s like sleep, while still remaining conscious—so you feel relaxed but also refreshed. Racking up 25.6 million views to date, the wellness hack is also taking TikTok by storm.

Non-Sleep Deep Rest was reportedly coined by Dr Andrew D. Huberman, a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, in 2022. It refers to a guided meditation technique that puts you in the same fuzzy, semi-focused state you experience right before falling asleep—when you’re not awake but you’ve also not dozed off yet.

The idea is that entering this sleep-like state for 10 to 30 minutes each day lets your brain rest and reset, so you emerge feeling more focused.

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In a TikTok video, Huberman, who uses NSDR daily, explains that it can: “enhance learning. It can also help you recover from lack of sleep, so on days when you’re feeling fatigued or you can’t focus because you didn’t sleep enough or very well the night before, it can be immensely beneficial. In addition, NSDR can help you get better at falling asleep and staying asleep.” He adds that NSDR also gives you the tools to “lean into the day with more energy”.

Silicon Valley has already embraced Non-Sleep Deep Rest as a mindfulness tool with Google CEO Sundar Pichai famously telling the The Wall Street Journal: “I found these podcasts which are non-sleep deep rest, or NSDRs. So while I find it difficult to meditate, I can go to YouTube, find an NSDR video.”

So, how does NSDR work?

Non-Sleep Deep Rest draws on yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, where guided meditation puts you in a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Clinical studies have shown that yoga nidra meditation is associated with “positive physiological changes” by improving red blood cell counts and blood glucose levels. They also concluded that it reduced anxiety through changes in dopamine (a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation and learning).

As well as listening to a podcast or audio guide, NSDR uses visualisation techniques while focusing on your breathing and sensations in different parts of the body. It also involves slowly ‘scanning’ your body for areas of muscle tenseness.

NSDR step-by-step

After a poor night’s sleep and a hectic morning, I slipped into a meeting room to listen to Huberman’s 10 min NSDR guided protocol during my lunch break. I normally struggle with meditation. Previous attempts include trying to focus on a flickering candle (all I could think of was my to-do list/shopping list/where the fire exit was!)—while mumbling mantras under my breath once almost got me kicked off a bus.

But Huberman’s velvety, soothing voice, and the promise that this protocol would only last 10 minutes, meant it had my undivided attention. It was also really easy—NSDR doesn’t involve any level of skill.

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