NSDR – Silicon Valley’s Secret for Recharging the Mind

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NSDR – Silicon Valley’s Secret for Recharging the Mind

The internet is buzzing with a new energizing hack called Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR). Coined by neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, NSDR is gaining popularity as a powerful tool to unwind and recharge. Inspired by the centuries-old practice of yoga nidra, NSDR offers a state of calm relaxation, enhanced neuroplasticity, and numerous other benefits. In this article, we delve deeper into NSDR, its connection to mindfulness, its influence on brain chemicals, and its endorsement by notable figures like Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

What is this Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

Non-Sleep Deep Rest, also known as NSDR, is a term coined by Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and researcher at Stanford University. It is essentially a modern interpretation of yoga nidra, a practice that bridges the gap between wakefulness and sleep. NSDR is an umbrella term encompassing various relaxation techniques, including naps, hypnosis, and meditation. The primary aim is to help individuals achieve a state of calm and deep relaxation by quieting the thinking mind. As the body enters this state of calm, brain waves decrease in frequency, leading to a gradual slowing down of thoughts (from 35 thoughts per minute to 2 or 3 only!). Additionally, the body’s production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, slows down as the parasympathetic nervous system becomes activated.

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NSDR facilitates enhanced neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. During NSDR, the brain accesses states of deep rest, reducing anxiety, stress, and promoting better sleep quality. These relaxed states allow for the rewiring of neural connections, leading to improved cognitive function, memory retention, and accelerated learning.

“Non-sleep deep rest is a powerful tool that can allow you to control the relaxation state of your nervous system and your overall state of mind,” says Huberman in a 10-minute guide on YouTube. “It takes advantage of the fact that specific forms of breathing place us into a state of deep relaxation by slowing our heart rate down.”

Sundar Pichai and Silicon Valley

The popularity of NSDR has reached Silicon Valley, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai endorsing its benefits. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pichai revealed that he relaxes by listening to podcasts based on NSDR. He finds these 10 to 30-minute sessions on YouTube to be a valuable tool for relaxation and rejuvenation. Pichai’s endorsement has brought NSDR into the spotlight, sparking curiosity and interest in this practice among tech professionals and beyond.

What About Yoga Nidra?

At its core, NSDR draws heavily from yoga nidra, which is often referred to as “yogic sleep.” Yoga nidra involves lying down and following the guidance of an instructor through a series of relaxation techniques. Participants may engage in body scanning, breathwork, and visualization exercises to induce a deep state of relaxation. By slowing down brain waves and reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol, yoga nidra promotes a state of calm and tranquility. It has been found to aid in pain management, regulate sleep patterns, enhance focus, and uplift mood. With its ability to induce deep relaxation and tap into the body’s innate healing mechanisms, NSDR has the potential to improve overall well-being and cognitive performance.

For instance, a 2006 study found that regular yoga nidra practice over six months led to significant reductions in inflammation markers. Additionally, practicing yoga nidra for 30 minutes daily for 15 consecutive days has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and even aid in controlling hypertension. Furthermore, research suggests that yoga nidra can provide relief for age-related lower back pain and improve the performance and reaction time of professional athletes. It has also been suggested to have positive effects on regulating insomnia, menstrual irregularities, and blood glucose levels.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, yoga nidra has proven to be a mood-enhancing practice for elderly women. By redirecting focus from the anxious mind and towards breathing and various body parts like the toes, feet, legs, and hands, yoga nidra helps individuals shift away from the constant demands of work and daily life. These breaks offer a respite from the wear and tear of the day, allowing for rejuvenation and overall well-being.

How Can I Start

If you’re curious about NSDR, there are numerous resources available to guide you through the practice. Crescent, an app offering personalized programs for better sleep, energy, and performance, provides various NSDR and yoga nidra exercises. Additionally, YouTube offers a wide range of yoga nidra videos of varying lengths. Exploring different instructors and styles can help you find a practice that resonates with you and supports your relaxation goals. The techniques involved in NSDR, such as body scanning, breathwork, and visualization, allow the brain to access states of deep rest, fostering neuroplasticity and accelerating learning. The key lies in finding a practice that resonates with you. Regular engagement in NSDR can lead to profound shifts in overall well-being, providing a valuable tool for managing stress, promoting relaxation, and unlocking the potential of the mind.