🛏 Experience Guided NSDR Practice
NSDR –– or “non-sleep-deep-rest” –– is a term coined by Stanford professor Andrew Huberman that uses a technique of guided body scanning to induce a state of waking sleep.
There are many benefits to this practice, but one that is lesser known is its potential to increase interoceptive sensitivity.
It involves a thorough scan of the inner landscape, bringing awareness to specific points around the body, and has been shown to activate slower brain waves and in turn improve markers of cardiovascular health and heart rate variability.
If you were to measure your brain waves during the practice, you'd see that they are rapidly moving from active beta, into alpha and eventually down into what's known as a "hypnagogic state”—which is the threshold between alpha & theta waves, kinda like a knife’s edge where the body technically “sleeps” while the mind is lucid.
NSDR has also been shown to flush cortisol and norepinephrine –– aka adrenaline –– from the system so that your body is naturally primed to be more receptive to interoceptive exploration.
Finally, if someone as busy as the Google CEO Sundar Pichai finds time to practice NSDR — as he mentioned recently in a recent Wall Street Journal interview — then you probably don’t have a good excuse not to try.
In terms of the ideal timing – it’s optimal for our circadian rhythms to practice NSDR between 2-4pm when there is a natural dip in energy.
However you can experiment with this for yourself. I know that Andrew Huberman for example will often listen to a guided session upon waking if he doesn’t feel fully rested. And it can also be used as a hack for memory consolidation if say you’re learning something new – or as integration after an emotional release.
If you find yourself falling asleep – don’t worry, this is probably what your body needs. if this continues you can also experiment with raising one hand from the elbow to keep you awake.
My recommendation is a minimum of 7 guided sessions over a two week period to begin feeling some of the benefits.
🎙️ Five Podcast Episodes to Learn From
If you’re a Spotify user, you can also subscribe to this NSM-specific interview playlist for easy listening. The link is here.
📚 Six Superb Books to Add to Your Reading Shelf
1 // ‘Anchored’ by Deb Dana – one of the most accessible and well-written books on the science of Polyvagal Theory & how to apply it to your everyday life with field-tested techniques.
2 // 'The Breathing Cure' by Patrick McKeown — an in-depth collection of breathing protocols backed by 20+ years of field research. You’ll never mouth breathe again after reading this…
3 // 'Widen the Window' by Elizabeth Stanley – a superb introduction to the science of trauma, what it means to increase resilience & research-backed tools for increasing your capacity in life.
4 // ‘Nurturing Resilience’ by Kathy Kain – a superb read, although more of a book for clinical practitioners or those who are looking for a deep dive into the world of somatic therapy & working through developmental trauma.
5 // ‘The Practice of Embodying Emotions’ by Raja Selvam, PhD ~ this is a book containing a treasure trove of research + practices for building greater embodied capacity to be with intense emotions. Highly recommended for those wishing to dive deeper.
6 // ‘The Myth of Normal’ by Gabor Maté - Fresh off the press (I’m still making my way through the 500+ pages myself) is Gabor’s attempt to distill over 4 decades of his clinical experience, making the case that the common definition of 'normal' is false & painting a compelling picture of what a saner society might look like.