February 27, 2012

Meditation Month, Day 27: Drowsiness

I am very good at falling asleep. This is probably because I am almost always tired. And I'm never more tired than when I meditate. Especially if I meditate at the end of the day, I'm so excited to have 5 or 10 (or if I'm lucky, 20) minutes of nonactivity that I'm immediately in relaxation mode. As soon as I relax, I'm drowsy. As soon as I'm drowsy, my head and body begin to pitch forward; a few minutes after that, I'm lucky if I'm not dead asleep.

My mind during meditation:

My body during meditation:

All jokes aside, it's a serious issue. I'm not really in the business of meditation just to relax, and I find falling asleep when I'm trying to meditate horribly frustrating. Of course, it's easier to meditate in the morning, and that does ease the problem somewhat. But sometimes it's just simply not possible for me to meditate immediately after I wake up.

I'm wondering, does anyone else have this problem? It's been covered in our Meditation Doctor with Brad Warner community discussion, and some suggestions there to combat drowsiness include making the room temperature cooler and not eating before meditating. (And of course, getting enough sleep in the first place.) What do you do when you're drowsy and meditating?


Meditation month is almost over, but if you haven't had a chance yet to read our Meditation e-book, supporting and sustaining members can get it from here for free. And for more tips from Brad Warner, visit our Meditation Doctor community discussion page.

Image 1: From www.curbly.com

Image 2: From www.sodahead.com

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wolf.prd's picture

This is actually a more common scenario than what you might think. There are a lot of people who might fall asleep during meditation or prayer and it is frustrating to say the very least.

donnamariedenton's picture

how do i download the free meditation e- book . i am new to tricycle com and not very savy about how this process works on the computer.
thanks for your help.
from donna

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi Donna,
If you are having trouble, you should send an email to support@tricycle.com. Or you can call support services at 1-800-873-9871. They will be able to explain the process to you!

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Thanks for the advice, everyone!

Interesting suggestion, Baltimorejones. I might try that and see how it works. I'm encouraged by you saying that it's not so distracting that you can't focus.

Pollyanna, it's certainly helped me to keep my eyes open as well...although to be completely honest, even then I've fallen asleep! I think I've got DES (droopy eyelids syndrome).

Sophia, walking meditation is a great idea, thanks. I don't think even I could fall asleep while walking. And living in NY, every day there's a plenty of opportunity to do walking meditation (although sometimes it's a challenge).

Best of luck to everyone in your future meditation endeavors! Peace and joy to you.

Sophia's picture

Just a thought. Why not meditate "out of the box"....or off the cushion as it were? I am one of those outliers who meditate whilst moving, rather than while my tush is on the cush, and while I have tried following the instructions for walking meditation that usually involve picking a 10 foot path to traverse back and forth along whilst v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y picking up each foot and s-l-o-w-l-y and mindfully putting it down, I haven't found that to work for me very well. Instead, I will take a walk somewhere, preferably in nature, and I will walk along at a medium pace, with head up and moving freely, as I silently observe the world around me. My intention is to keep my attention open and keenly aware of the space through which I am walking, while emptying my mind as best I can of any discursive thought...any storytelling...and if thoughts appear, my intention is to witness them as I would a flower or a leaf or a bird on a limb, seeing them in my awareness briefly as I move on to the next awareness of leaf or flower or bird.

This has been the form my meditation practice has taken over the years. I have as yet to fall asleep during a session...and my ability to sustain open...self-less awareness... Anatta...has blossomed through this practice.

Deep Bows to You, on and off the cushion,


pollyanna's picture

It's a problem I share but I generally solve it by keeping my eyes open - not wide but lowered so that I am not distracted by what I see. I think that when I close my eyes it's a message to my brain and body that I have permission to go to sleep. I also sit upright on a chair with my back unsupported.

Baltimorejones's picture

I have this problem also. I intentionally sit in an uncomfortable position that forces me to shift my weight when I'm tired. In this way, I dont' find it so distracting that I can't focus, but it does prevent me from nodding off....