NSDR, or Non-Sleep Deep Rest, is a state of profound relaxation that offers distinct benefits compared to regular sleep. During NSDR, our brain waves slow down, triggering a relaxation response and leading to a release of serotonin from the gut, as well as activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
When monitoring brain activity through an EEG during NSDR, the shift is observed from the active beta frequency (12-35 Hz) typically experienced during waking hours to the alpha frequency (8-12 Hz) associated with conscious meditation. As the relaxation deepens, the brain enters a theta frequency (4-8 Hz) state, akin to a deep meditation or flow state. In this state, both brain frequency and the frequency of our thoughts slow down.
Ideally, NSDR practice guides the brain to operate at an even slower operational frequency of 0.5-3 Hz, resulting in a significantly reduced number of thoughts, typically around 1-3 per minute compared to the average of 35 thoughts per minute reported by the National Science Foundation. This slower brain function corresponds to the Delta frequency, which is typically only achieved during deep sleep.
Entering Delta frequency during NSDR is crucial because it provides an opportunity for our bodies to rest profoundly. In these states of very low brain frequency function, cortisol and norepinephrine levels decrease significantly, the body enters a parasympathetic state, and overall stimulation levels are at their lowest. This deep rest allows for improved knowledge retention, physiological healing, and an overall sense of rejuvenation.
In our fast-paced modern world, it is rare to naturally experience theta and delta frequencies, as constant stimulation and vigilance keep us in a heightened state. Therefore, practicing NSDR becomes increasingly important in order to access these vital frequencies, providing the body and mind with the opportunity to rest deeply and reap the associated benefits.