Published 05 January 2024

Scientific Benefits of Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR)

Discover the various advantages of non-sleep deep rest (NSDR), Huberman’s holistic wellness practice.

In the realm of wellness and cognitive enhancement, the concept of non-sleep deep rest (NSDR), developed by Dr. Andrew Huberman, emerges as a compelling approach. This article uncovers the substantiated advantages of NSDR in promoting relaxation, stress reduction, cognitive function, and overall wellbeing.

What is NSDR by Dr. Huberman?

Developed by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and tenured professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, NSDR is a deep relaxation technique that combines mindful breathing with body scanning.

Experience NSDR with Dr. Huberman as your guide on Virtusan’s iOS and Android apps.

What are the benefits of NSDR?

  • Stress reduction and autonomic harmony
  • Cognitive clarity and emotional regulation
  • Sleep optimization and relaxation
  • Mindful presence and wellbeing

Stress reduction and autonomic harmony

Drawing inspiration from both meditation and deep relaxation, NSDR offers a pathway to reset the autonomic nervous system. This system controls functions like heart rate and digestion, and recalibrating it can help improve overall wellbeing.

a. Parasympathetic activation: NSDR stimulates the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, causing a “rest and digest” response in the body. This natural shift counteracts the stress-triggered “fight-or-flight” reactions, promoting a sense of calmness.

b. Hormonal equilibrium: Scientific studies suggest that regular NSDR practices can lead to hormonal equilibrium, including reduced levels of cortisol, a primary stress hormone. This hormonal balance plays a crucial role in reducing stress and enhancing emotional resilience.

Cognitive clarity and emotional regulation

The practice of combining mindfulness and sensory engagement in NSDR is likely to lead to both cognitive and emotional benefits.

a. Neural plasticity: NSDR’s guided approach to sensory awareness stimulates neural pathways, potentially enhancing cognitive flexibility, focus, and clarity.

b. Emotional resilience: By cultivating mindful awareness of bodily sensations and emotions, NSDR empowers people to regulate their emotional responses. This heightened emotional intelligence aids in stress management and interpersonal interactions.

Sleep optimization and relaxation

By combining somatic awareness and meditation, NSDR can enhance sleep quality and promote relaxation.

a. Sleep-like rejuvenation: NSDR induces a state similar to restorative relaxation, fostering physiological processes comparable to those during sleep. This contributes to your overall sense of rejuvenation and vitality.

b. Sleep onset facilitation: The relaxation techniques within NSDR can also serve as a helpful way to make falling asleep easier. Regular practice can make the process of transitioning into sleep smoother, which is particularly beneficial for those who have trouble getting a good night’s rest.

Mindful presence and wellbeing

The combination of sensory mindfulness and introspection in NSDR cultivates a state of being fully present and promotes overall wellbeing.

a. Mindfulness anchoring: NSDR’s sensory grounding techniques help people stay anchored in the present moment. Fostering mindfulness is an essential tool for stress reduction, emotional regulation, and improved focus.

b. Enhanced self-awareness: NSDR also encourages self-exploration through sensory introspection. This heightened self-awareness paves the way for improved self-care, goal-setting, and decision-making.

NSDR summed up

The scientific exploration into the benefits of NSDR, championed by Dr. Huberman, reveals a range of advantages spanning stress reduction, autonomic harmony, cognitive clarity, emotional regulation, sleep optimization, and mindful wellbeing.

The holistic approach of NSDR aligns with contemporary wellness beliefs and has the potential to enhance mental and physical vitality. As with any practice, individual experiences may vary. Those intrigued by NSDR are encouraged to embrace its principles under expert guidance, unlocking its potential to foster relaxation, stress reduction, cognitive resilience, and holistic wellbeing.

Try Virtusan’s guided NSDR practice with Dr. Huberman on iOS and Android.

Note: While this article highlights the scientifically verified benefits of NSDR, individuals with underlying health conditions should seek guidance from healthcare professionals before incorporating new practices into their routines.


You are using an outdated browser which can not show modern web content.

We suggest you download Chrome or Firefox.