Sleep vs Meditation: Are There Any Differences?

couple meditating in a bright room

Have you just started meditating? If yes, one of the common problems you’re probably experiencing is differentiating the mind-calming practice from sleeping.

Are there any differences between sleeping and meditation? The answer is yes. Sleeping is the state of losing consciousness of your environment while meditation involves being able to focus on one subject at a time despite the distractions in your surroundings.

Can Meditation Replace Sleep?

The answer is no. Meditation offers a lot of benefits including reducing the body’s fatigue levels and relaxing the mind. But it is no substitute for sleep.

The truth is, learning to meditate properly can be vital for your nighttime rest especially if you experience frequent troubles.

Many of us upon learning more about meditation begin to wonder whether it can replace sleep indefinitely. So we’re glad to have cleared that up.

Sleep vs Meditation

Brain Waves 

3d image of a person's brainwaves

Did you know that your brain wave activity skyrockets during meditation? Well, that is the power of the practice on the mind. When you’re in a state of mindfulness, your brain produces Alpha and Theta waves.

Theta Waves happen when you’re fast asleep but in a dreamless state. On the contrary, Alpha waves are produced when you’re daydreaming or in another state of idleness. Those waves offer benefits such as calmness, mental coordination, and alertness. Thus, meditating gives you the best of both worlds – deep sleep and a genuine state of idleness leading to the ultimate relaxation for the brain.

However, depending on the type of sleep you may be experiencing, the body may opt to produce Delta Waves instead of Theta Waves. Delta Waves are slow but exceptionally-penetrating drum-beat like waves that occur during the deepest dreamless sleep.

While these waves inhibit awareness of your environment, they promote healing, empathy, and regeneration. The Theta waves produced by the brain during sleep is the source of intuition, learning, and memory.

Awareness of Surroundings 

Do you lose awareness of your surroundings during meditation? Well, the answer is no. While you can train the brain to focus on one object in the middle of a meditation session with fewer distractions, you shouldn’t lose complete awareness of your environment.

Sure, being in a deep state of some forms of proper meditation may enable you to zone out of your environment. But you do not completely lose your senses.

On the other hand, being in a state of deep sleep makes you lose awareness of your surroundings. Also, you lose your sense of smell, touch, sight, and hearing during sleep.


While we usually decide when to sleep, there are many times when we can fall asleep against our wishes. When fatigue builds up to a point, sleepiness can occur even when you’re not in an inappropriate setting. This is why it is common to see employees napping in their offices at the risk of losing their jobs.

On the contrary, meditation is a conscious effort to zone out of your environment and focus on one object or the other. Meditation does not occur by accident meaning you only meditate when you want to.

Critical to Your Health

Meditation has a lot of health benefits including the ability to focus, retain memory, and even sleep better. But you can live a perfectly normal life without ever meditating. Additionally, going without it for years may not have any direct influence on your health.

However, sleeping is critical for your health and well-being. The body undergoes a lot of repair and regeneration during sleep. Staying awake for many days straight affects your body’s ability to function. It can even lead to death according to research.

This is why sleep is so important in our lives.

Have you read our comprehensive guide on the differences between sleep and resting? Check it out here.

Is it Possible to Sleep During Meditation?

Many folks, during their first few weeks, often struggle to stay awake during meditation especially when they do it while lying down. This can be confusing because there’s supposed to be a fine line between sleep and meditation.

Is it possible to sleep during meditation? The answer is a resounding yes. Nodding off in the middle of a meditation session is normal especially when you’re extremely tired.

Thus, you should accept sleep as your body’s way of getting rid of any deficit or fatigue backlog. After all,  catching up on lost sleep can put you in the right frame of mind to stay alert and be more productive.

Does that mean you should sleep at the earliest temptation when meditating? Well, not according to experts. They recommend that you should only lie down when your body sends a strong signal of sleepiness. This is why we recommend sitting down as the best position for meditation.

If you do succumb to the temptation to sleep, meditating for an extra 5 minutes or so when you wake up to refocus the mind can be vital.

Benefits of Meditation to Your Sleep

There are many benefits of meditation for your sleep. Let us take a look at a few of these advantages and figure out how we can incorporate meditation to improve our overall life quality.

Prevents Insomnia

If you’ve been tossing and turning in bed at night, one of the most tried and tested ways to transform your sleep fortunes is meditation. We often go to bed with lots of problems on our minds which may lead to sleeplessness. By the time morning arrives, we’re already fatigued from the lack of sleep the previous night leading to daytime drowsiness.

The good news is that Mindfulness Meditation offers a series of techniques that calms the mind for boosting your sleep significantly. These meditative practices allow individuals to focus on one thing at a time including thoughts and emotions.

According to Harvard Health, Mindfulness Meditation builds up the body’s relaxation response. This immediately empowers your ability to deal with depression, anxiety, and other related conditions. The result is deeper relaxation and improvements in sleep quantity and quality.

According to studies, meditation does not only allow you to fall asleep quicker but it can also increase the duration of your slumber.

Sleep Less

The quality of your sleep may be more important than the actual duration. Thus, 5 hours of satisfying sleep could be more beneficial than 8 hours of tossing and turning in bed. That explains why many of us feel fatigued in the morning after a sleepless night no matter how long we stayed in bed.

Meditation improves your brain’s ability to de-stress and relax. This can boost your sleep quality, resulting in better energy levels even when your sleep duration is reduced.

If you live a busy life, turning to meditation can be a great way of staying highly productive even if you do not sleep as much during the night.

Many high achievers can sleep for only 4-5 hours per night because they have mastered the art of getting superior sleep with meditation and other techniques.

Pain Reduction

One of the common barriers to a good night’s rest is body aches and pains. If you’re experiencing some discomfort in one area of the body or the other, drifting off to sleep can become harder.

Fortunately, meditation can help you block out the pain by treating it as an annoying distraction. You can then focus on more positive emotions or thoughts that draw your mind away from the discomfort you may be experiencing.

Thus, you’re able to fall asleep much quicker and stay asleep throughout the night. The ability to block out pain also means waking up in the morning should be easier on your body.

Better Moods 

Have you noticed how much you struggle to sleep whenever you go to bed angry or in a bad mood? Well, frequent meditation can be of significant help here.

Mindful Meditation allows you to chill out and respond to life’s twists and turns in a much calmer way.

This promotes extra benefits for your health including significant dips in the production of stress hormones such as Cortisol.

Besides, better moods equal lower heart rates and lower blood pressure which coordinate to improve the quality of your sleep.

Better Relationships 

happy family going through a book together

Often, when one or both couples are highly stressed out, tensions can reach boiling points. This can make relationships more fragile leading to even higher levels of stress.

The calming effects of meditation can improve relationships significantly. It can help one or both partners to arrive home in a more cheerful mood leading to enhanced communication.

Couples who communicate better tend to get intimate more frequently which leads to a higher production of Oxytocin and other love hormones. 

Since these hormones enhance sleep, this is another good reason why you should learn to meditate daily.

My meditation and yoga sessions have become more comfortable since I started using the Florensi Meditation Cushion from Amazon 3 weeks ago. It provides cozy support for my body weight and allows me to practice the most relaxing and peaceful techniques continuously for hours.

Religion and Spirituality

religious person meditating under a tree

Meditation is one of the most common spiritual practices in the world. It features prominently across religions ranging from Christianity to Buddhism, as well as Islam, and Taoism. Many followers of these religions meditate to build spiritual strength and enlightenment.

Meditation sessions also help them stay away from distractions in their environments to build spiritually pious lives.

However, sleep is a basic human need. Whether you’re religious, secular, or atheist, you need several hours of shut-eye after a hard day of work. This can be the key to rebuilding your energy levels for maximum productivity the next day.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re new to meditation or trying to establish the relationship between sleep and meditation, check out our answers to a few of the most popular questions.

Is it good to meditate at night?

The answer is a resounding yes. Meditating at any time of the day can be great for you. Besides, practicing at night can be the perfect catalyst to have a great rest. If you’re feeling stressed at bedtime why not take 15 or 20 minutes to meditate?

Is Sleeping a form of meditation?

The answer is no. While you can fall asleep during meditation, sleeping is not a form of meditation. Falling asleep makes you lose awareness of your surroundings and senses.

Can you meditate while lying down?

The answer is yes. Meditating while lying down is perfectly fine but experts recommend only doing this at bedtime. This is because meditating in a horizontal position often induces sleep.

Can meditation be dangerous?

Yes. Meditation can lead to negative side effects ranging from hallucinations to panic attacks as well as social awkwardness. It is important to speak to your doctor if you experience any negative effects during or after meditating.

Is it bad to meditate too much?

Yes. meditating offers a lot of positives but too much of everything can be bad. The practice can be addictive to the point where other aspects of your life can suffer.


Sleeping and meditation can be awesome for your health in many ways. But it is easy to confuse the two. This is why we’ve taken the time to outline the differences between both states of mind.

Just remember that while meditation can enhance your sleep satisfaction, it cannot be a substitute for it. Therefore, you should try to meditate as part of your daily routine while getting 7-8 hours of good sleep every night.

Gabriel Smith

Hello, my name is Gabriel and I LOVE to sleep. Okay, you’re right, a lot of people do like sleep. But my passion is actually not sleeping. My interest lies in the “theoretical part”. What to do before bedtime. What a good night’s sleep is. etc. In short, how to sleep well. I hope you share the same interest as me, and enjoy reading everything about sleep.

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