sleep deprivation during retreats

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yagmort
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sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by yagmort » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:15 pm

i've been wondering how do people manage to sleep like 5 hours for several years and remain productive?

i am very hypersomnic person and when i don't get enough sleep long enough, normally longer than a week, i become a zombie. i feel like my brain is going to shut down, i got nods and yawns and there is no way i can be good with my practices. am i the only one or there are other people who have troubles staying awake with not enough sleep? is there any instructions on how to sleep less and still maintain enough clarity and focus to do 4 sessions a day? i've heard about polyphasic sleep, but unlike retreats you still have short doze offs several times throughout the day.

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Vasana
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Vasana » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:26 pm

Everyone is different and it also depends on the quality of your diet and practice. It's better to rest well and have 1 or 2 good practices rather than force 4 that are of low quality. Unless you're in a strict retreat scenario, it's better to observe your own condition and work with circumstances rather than try to force it.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

Sādhaka
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Sādhaka » Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:28 pm

Sleep is very important, yes; and in a retreat situation, one is doing things conducive to using energy more efficiently.

My guess there, is that first of all, one is going to bed early and waking up early; and the hours between 10 PM and 2 AM are said to be the most important for the human sleep cycle. It is said that getting sleep during those fours hours, is worth like 3X’s the amount of sleep you would get by going to bed at midnight or 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

Also that you would likely be waking up a good couple hours before sunrise, known as Brahma Muhurta; which is said to be very rejuvenating.

And add that one would be utilizing the body’s energy more efficiently by doing Tsa Lung (which the teacher should instruct you in), Yogic practices, etc., preserving Ojas, and eating foods & taking medicines that support Ojas, etc.; would all add up to needing less sleep.

There might even be a level of intermittent-fasting going on there too (autophagy rejuvenates the stronger cells in the body).

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heart
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by heart » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:00 pm

yagmort wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:15 pm
i've been wondering how do people manage to sleep like 5 hours for several years and remain productive?

i am very hypersomnic person and when i don't get enough sleep long enough, normally longer than a week, i become a zombie. i feel like my brain is going to shut down, i got nods and yawns and there is no way i can be good with my practices. am i the only one or there are other people who have troubles staying awake with not enough sleep? is there any instructions on how to sleep less and still maintain enough clarity and focus to do 4 sessions a day? i've heard about polyphasic sleep, but unlike retreats you still have short doze offs several times throughout the day.
It takes a long time, months before it get easy. So I am told by Tibetans doing three year retreats.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

TrimePema
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by TrimePema » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:30 pm

heart wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:00 pm
yagmort wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 5:15 pm
i've been wondering how do people manage to sleep like 5 hours for several years and remain productive?

i am very hypersomnic person and when i don't get enough sleep long enough, normally longer than a week, i become a zombie. i feel like my brain is going to shut down, i got nods and yawns and there is no way i can be good with my practices. am i the only one or there are other people who have troubles staying awake with not enough sleep? is there any instructions on how to sleep less and still maintain enough clarity and focus to do 4 sessions a day? i've heard about polyphasic sleep, but unlike retreats you still have short doze offs several times throughout the day.
It takes a long time, months before it get easy. So I am told by Tibetans doing three year retreats.

/magnus
It also has to do with breaking down your already conditioned habitual patterns faster. Yes, doing so will make obstacles come up faster but you can also destroy them more easily. Feeling like a zombie is an obstacle, not a biological certainty. Advanced practitioners do not even sleep like normal humans.

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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Sādhaka » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:33 pm

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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:23 pm

Thanks Sadhaka, that is a good post. The science has recently started to take our rythms into account and it is really good. It might influence how we understand healthy lifestyle and causes of many diseases.

As for sleep deprivation, unfortunately I have never had the chance to take part in a longer retreat, but during short ones a small nap around noon usually helps a lot.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.

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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Könchok Thrinley » Thu Jan 09, 2020 3:29 pm

Concerning the OP, I'd say that what plays a huge part is also what kind of life they lead in retreat. It is so different from ours. We are under a lot of stress, we eat a lot of often shitty food, strong emotions deplete us too, etc etc.

Also our surroundings play a huge part in it. Once I had the fortune to spend a week in a gompa and my schedule naturally changed almost immediately and I started to fall asleep around 10 and wake up at 6. That together with my only activity being taking part of teachings, helping with preparation a bit and eating little and well, after the week I felt so rejuvinated. Then I went to visit my mum and after week with her I was sucked out of all energy again and actually became sick due to that :lol: . But still the experience of what a proper sleep schedule can do with one's body is rather mindblowing.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.

Sādhaka
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Sādhaka » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:06 pm

(Warning, this is TL;DR, but I think everyone here can glean some useful things from it; and I do eventually get to how it relates to Dharma practice.)

Yea no problem, I’m always happy to share useful things like this.

Now I dunno if it’s because of my diet or what, but I never really feel the need for a nap anymore. Once in awhile maybe if there’s an combination of lack of sleep and my sleep cycle getting thrown off. Anyway, a 20 minute or less nap can work wonders. Any more than 20 minutes, and more often than not you’ll wake up groggy. The problem with napping, is that if I sent an alarm for 15 or 20 minutes, even though I’m dead tired, I’ll just be lying there awake anticipating the alarm going off. So I just don’t take naps anymore.

All true about stress, shitty food, and emotional depletion. Another thing about most people these days, is the constant search for a dopamine hit. For example, porn is an big one, because it releases tons of dopamine, and then because of this people develop desensitization, and end up craving kinkier and kinkier videos, constantly fiending for that dopamine hit and depleting their dopamine reserves (not to mention Virya and Ojas).

TV, social media, junk food etc. have an similar effect of depleting dopamine & leading to desensitization; and some are starting to realize this, and are opting instead for activities like the gym, intermittent fasting, doing dopamine fasts (this is where you abstain from all electronic devices & entertainment for 24 hours or more; although IMO you don’t need any specific dopamine fast if you have an overall healthy lifestyle & sleep schedule), and *drumroll* NoFap.

For me, a raw-carnivore based diet is good for conserving dopamine reserves, because even though raw meat is very satiating and nutrient dense, it is quite bland, even if you’re adding salt and raw honey, and is a diet that is conducive to not eating just for the sake of getting that dopamine dump like with carbs, sugar, extra flavors etc. Also the nutrient density of a meat based diet provides a rich source for the building blocks so to speak of dopamine production.

Anyhow, how this relates to Dharma practice, is that I’m beginning to actually see how people wanting to practice Tantra and not renounce sense-pleasures, without a solid foundation in practice and discipline first, is absurd. I’m not saying that one necessarily has to first be a full-blown Mahasiddha; but that some stability in practice with signs of accomplishment, and solid discipline and healthy lifestyle first, is a must, before going to the not-renouncing sense-pleasures aspect.

People in the NoFap movement (NoFap regular mode means sex is permissible, and NoFap hard mode means no sex even) are reporting that their lives have done a complete 180 (in terms of calm, happiness, inner-strength, energy, and emotional-stability) after some time, by combining NoFap with a disciplined lifestyle of working out, good sleep schedule, and healthy diet; and again preserving Virya and Ojas.

Now if someone wants to make a go of trying to practice higher level Tantra without a solid foundation; then who knows, perhaps if they’re at least keeping the bare minimum of their practice commitments, they’ll at least get another human rebirth next life with circumstances to keep practicing. I would hope so. I just don’t know if that’s guaranteed. Maybe at least another human rebirth next life is guaranteed for those who have received Dzogchen and keep the minimum of their practice commitments up; however, Longchenpa wrote (in the Great Chariot if you want to look it up) that attempting to not renounce sense pleasures without establishing a strong foundation first, would land one in lower realms. Maybe he was referring to those who have received Tantra, but not Dzogchen? (not to imply that receiving Dzogchen is in itself necessarily an ticket to indiscriminate hedonism)

TrimePema
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by TrimePema » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:55 pm

Sādhaka wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:06 pm
(Warning, this is TL;DR, but I think everyone here can glean some useful things from it; and I do eventually get to how it relates to Dharma practice.)

Yea no problem, I’m always happy to share useful things like this.

Now I dunno if it’s because of my diet or what, but I never really feel the need for a nap anymore. Once in awhile maybe if there’s an combination of lack of sleep and my sleep cycle getting thrown off. Anyway, a 20 minute or less nap can work wonders. Any more than 20 minutes, and more often than not you’ll wake up groggy. The problem with napping, is that if I sent an alarm for 15 or 20 minutes, even though I’m dead tired, I’ll just be lying there awake anticipating the alarm going off. So I just don’t take naps anymore.

All true about stress, shitty food, and emotional depletion. Another thing about most people these days, is the constant search for a dopamine hit. For example, porn is an big one, because it releases tons of dopamine, and then because of this people develop desensitization, and end up craving kinkier and kinkier videos, constantly fiending for that dopamine hit and depleting their dopamine reserves (not to mention Virya and Ojas).

TV, social media, junk food etc. have an similar effect of depleting dopamine & leading to desensitization; and some are starting to realize this, and are opting instead for activities like the gym, intermittent fasting, doing dopamine fasts (this is where you abstain from all electronic devices & entertainment for 24 hours or more; although IMO you don’t need any specific dopamine fast if you have an overall healthy lifestyle & sleep schedule), and *drumroll* NoFap.

For me, a raw-carnivore based diet is good for conserving dopamine reserves, because even though raw meat is very satiating and nutrient dense, it is quite bland, even if you’re adding salt and raw honey, and is a diet that is conducive to not eating just for the sake of getting that dopamine dump like with carbs, sugar, extra flavors etc. Also the nutrient density of a meat based diet provides a rich source for the building blocks so to speak of dopamine production.

Anyhow, how this relates to Dharma practice, is that I’m beginning to actually see how people wanting to practice Tantra and not renounce sense-pleasures, without a solid foundation in practice and discipline first, is absurd. I’m not saying that one necessarily has to first be a full-blown Mahasiddha; but that some stability in practice with signs of accomplishment, and solid discipline and healthy lifestyle first, is a must, before going to the not-renouncing sense-pleasures aspect.

People in the NoFap movement (NoFap regular mode means sex is permissible, and NoFap hard mode means no sex even) are reporting that their lives have done a complete 180 (in terms of calm, happiness, inner-strength, energy, and emotional-stability) after some time, by combining NoFap with a disciplined lifestyle of working out, good sleep schedule, and healthy diet; and again preserving Virya and Ojas.

Now if someone wants to make a go of trying to practice higher level Tantra without a solid foundation; then who knows, perhaps if they’re at least keeping the bare minimum of their practice commitments, they’ll at least get another human rebirth next life with circumstances to keep practicing. I would hope so. I just don’t know if that’s guaranteed. Maybe at least another human rebirth next life is guaranteed for those who have received Dzogchen and keep the minimum of their practice commitments up; however, Longchenpa wrote (in the Great Chariot if you want to look it up) that attempting to not renounce sense pleasures without establishing a strong foundation first, would land one in lower realms. Maybe he was referring to those who have received Tantra, but not Dzogchen? (not to imply that receiving Dzogchen is in itself necessarily an ticket to indiscriminate hedonism)
By not renouncing sense pleasures are you also talking about sex?
That would be kind of silly, IMO, because sex is only brought onto the path with consort practice which not just anyone can do.

Now, I have heard that some Western students have in the past believed they received karmamudra instructions when really they did not. They received some way to approximate bringing their hedonistic lifestyles onto the path and believed that to be karmamudra instructions when they were not and from then on they called that karmamudra.

Sādhaka
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by Sādhaka » Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:31 pm

About the said practices, I don’t think that they are appropriate to discuss on an open forum; and unfortunately I already have in the past. Maybe it’s okay to discuss them in a very very general way, I’m not sure.

And I’m not necessarily talking about sex in itself; but I’ll maybe try to add more context when I have more time.

yagmort
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by yagmort » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:06 am

TrimePema wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:30 pm
....Feeling like a zombie is an obstacle, not a biological certainty...
not true. tell that to people who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia.

from wiki:
...Destruction of noradrenergic neurons has produced hypersomnia in experimental animal studies, and injury to adrenergic neurons has also been shown to lead to hypersomnia. Idiopathic hypersomnia has also been associated with a malfunction of the norepinephrine system and decreased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) histamine levels.

Researchers have recently found an abnormal hypersensitivity to GABA (the major brain chemical responsible for sedation) in a subset of patients with central hypersomnia i.e.: idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy without cataplexy and long sleepers. They have identified a small (500 to 3000 daltons) naturally occurring bioactive substance (most likely a peptide as it is trypsin-sensitive) in the CSF of afflicted patients. Although this substance requires further identification of its chemical structure, it is currently referred to as a "somnogen" because it has been shown to cause hyper-reactivity of GABAA receptors, which leads to increased sedation or somnolence. In essence, it is as though these patients are chronically sedated with a benzodiazepine (medication which acts through the GABA system) such as Versed or Xanax, even though they do not take these medications...

TrimePema
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by TrimePema » Sat Jan 11, 2020 7:18 pm

yagmort wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:06 am
TrimePema wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:30 pm
....Feeling like a zombie is an obstacle, not a biological certainty...
not true. tell that to people who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia.

from wiki:
...Destruction of noradrenergic neurons has produced hypersomnia in experimental animal studies, and injury to adrenergic neurons has also been shown to lead to hypersomnia. Idiopathic hypersomnia has also been associated with a malfunction of the norepinephrine system and decreased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) histamine levels.

Researchers have recently found an abnormal hypersensitivity to GABA (the major brain chemical responsible for sedation) in a subset of patients with central hypersomnia i.e.: idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy without cataplexy and long sleepers. They have identified a small (500 to 3000 daltons) naturally occurring bioactive substance (most likely a peptide as it is trypsin-sensitive) in the CSF of afflicted patients. Although this substance requires further identification of its chemical structure, it is currently referred to as a "somnogen" because it has been shown to cause hyper-reactivity of GABAA receptors, which leads to increased sedation or somnolence. In essence, it is as though these patients are chronically sedated with a benzodiazepine (medication which acts through the GABA system) such as Versed or Xanax, even though they do not take these medications...
yeah. you dont understand.

first of all, that's a strawman argument you are making. we are talking about feeling over-tired in retreat.

secondly, even though it's a strawman, it's still defeated by the same reasoning. the effects of GABA have nothing to do with awareness that we are talking about in meditation. It is possible to maintain awareness on xanax. just like being over-tired has nothing to do with the awareness that we are talking about having in retreat. eventually, through maintaining awareness, the over-tiredness, which is an obstacle, will self-liberate.

even in the case where the self-liberation of the over-tiredness does not occur until death, since it's biological, it still occurs.

not understanding the difference between awareness and ignorance, one is overpowered by ignorance when one sleeps. what i'm referring to is kind of like that, but talking about times when one is in waking life and not necessarily starting to go to sleep.

TrimePema
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Re: sleep deprivation during retreats

Post by TrimePema » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:18 am

yagmort wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:06 am
TrimePema wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:30 pm
....Feeling like a zombie is an obstacle, not a biological certainty...
not true. tell that to people who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia.

from wiki:
...Destruction of noradrenergic neurons has produced hypersomnia in experimental animal studies, and injury to adrenergic neurons has also been shown to lead to hypersomnia. Idiopathic hypersomnia has also been associated with a malfunction of the norepinephrine system and decreased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) histamine levels.

Researchers have recently found an abnormal hypersensitivity to GABA (the major brain chemical responsible for sedation) in a subset of patients with central hypersomnia i.e.: idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy without cataplexy and long sleepers. They have identified a small (500 to 3000 daltons) naturally occurring bioactive substance (most likely a peptide as it is trypsin-sensitive) in the CSF of afflicted patients. Although this substance requires further identification of its chemical structure, it is currently referred to as a "somnogen" because it has been shown to cause hyper-reactivity of GABAA receptors, which leads to increased sedation or somnolence. In essence, it is as though these patients are chronically sedated with a benzodiazepine (medication which acts through the GABA system) such as Versed or Xanax, even though they do not take these medications...
I realize my reply was not really clear. Let me clarify:

Feeling tired (and the subsequent loss of so-called awareness) is what happens when ignorance takes over awareness. Blacking out when going to sleep is a heavier version.

We dont need to black out when we go to sleep. Just like sleep is an obstacle to awareness in a sense but does not mean we will black out in ignorance purely because it is a biological process (that is, biological processes do not trump awareness), feeling tired is an obstacle but ultimately does not prevent one from meditating. It doesn't matter what condition you have. It only matters how deep your realization is. In order to bring realization faster, there are many methods one can use to break down habitual patterns to increase experience and fast track stabilization. One of them is changing the schedule like what's done in retreat. Another one is generating oneself as the deity. Another one is doing tsok when you eat... it goes on and on. As mentioned earlier, there are also ways to use sense pleasures.

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