I have heard that monatics in many cases sleep as little as 4-5 hours per night. In what way do they train, to reduce the amount of sleep needed for nightly restitution?

Are there methods of training to remain (increasingly) mindful while sleeping?

  • Dantabhumi Sutta
    – user635
    Aug 23, 2014 at 0:34
  • @RobMacHugh Thank you. Would you care to elaborate in an answer, extracting relevant passages as quotes? Aug 23, 2014 at 11:16
  • Lucid dreaming is not as hard as you think. Honestly when I first started to lucid dream I used this article. https://medium.com/how-to-lucid-dream/50-ways-to-make-lucid-dreaming-easier-370d0313acc0 Hope you like it, I bookmarked it for easier access.
    – user4725
    Feb 18, 2015 at 16:52
  • Those are two questions. For the first one: what I know personally from retreats, intense practice (formal and perhaps informal as well) during the day reduces the need for sleep down to 6, 5, 4 hours / day. I imagine that having sustained high mindfulness makes this permanent. My sense of it is that one doesn't spend energy on mental gossip, and that lot of tiredness does not come simply because the first impulse is acknowledged and let go, like anything else.
    – eudoxos
    Apr 3, 2015 at 15:30

7 Answers 7


Once the practitioner attains certain level of mastery in meditation and mindfulness, their sleep acquires a character of meditation. It's not like they don't sleep at all, but they do retain certain level of deep awareness during their sleep.

Specifically, when they see a dream, they know it's a dream. They remain aware of their body lying down on the bed. They remain aware of the content of their consciousness no matter how disjointed it gets during a deep sleep. If something happens around them, they wake up easily to provide their help if needed.

From my personal experience I can say this has gotten increasingly true for me over the years of practice.

As far as specific methods, stopping internal dialogue and mental gossip really helps mindfulness.

  • Thank you - my experience is the same, increasing mindfulness over the years has brought more and more experiences of a certain degree of "awareness during sleep" - if it is simply that, then patient endurance is the key, I suppose. _/\_ Aug 23, 2014 at 11:20

I heard about monks that are mindful when they are sleeping but those monks are higly trained.to reduce the number of you sleep,you could increase the length of time you do sitting meditation.people sleep because they want rest and re_energise.in meditation body can rest and re_energise.so longer you do sitting meditation,less sleep you need.

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    I'm sitting here wondering if there's a country somewhere where breaks in words are traditionally joined with underscores
    – Caleb Paul
    Aug 22, 2014 at 1:04
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    Lol typed it from my phone.these things are just conventions.
    – rukshan
    Aug 22, 2014 at 4:03

Dreaming is one of the 6 bardos or liminal states in Tibetan Buddhism. There complete list is

  • the Bardo of This Life
  • the Bardo of Meditation
  • the Bardo of Dream
  • the Bardo of Dying
  • the Bardo of Dharmatan (luminosity of the true nature)
  • the Bardo of Existence

In the Tibetan tradition it is possible to work with the dream bardo by practicing dream yoga. It is linked to lucid dreaming but brings a lot more to it. It is perfectly possible to train yourself to lucid dream and I know a few people that have - so it seems very reasonable that advanced practitioners could work with and extend this technique.


I believe the point here relates to meditation and the monastic life. We (lay people) deal with so many problems and so many distractions that our minds are overstimulated, more important than that, we don't practice a lot of meditation, therefore our minds require a lot of time to rest, this is easy for one to see, when you are anxious you don't sleep well.

A monk deals with problems and distractions too, but I believe not as many, not with the intensity we deal living in a big city. They study a lot, keep the monastery running, give dhammatalks etc... but the level of stress is different in such activities, also they practice a lot of meditation, so their mind is usually more sharp, calm and focused, requiring less time to rest.

  • Point taken, although lay life comes in many forms, not only busy city life. ;-) There are lay people with few distractions (for instance, just not having TV helps, regardless of location), and for each of us, using the experience presented to us each moment is what we have available to work with. Aug 22, 2014 at 6:24

In Tibetan buddhism there are a set of practices calles the six yogas of Naropa. They are specially important in the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. One of these yogas is called the Dream Yoga and its purpose is to develop awareness during your dreaming time. The masters of this meditation never lose counciousness. When they go to sleep the know they are falling sleep. Later they recognize that they are sleeping without dreams. Then they recognize their dreams and are able to modify them as they wish. Finally the wake up are are able to remember everything that happened during their sleeping time. To do the six yogas of Naropa you need advance training and be in retreat. Usually you are required to do at least one meditation retreat that lasts three years, three months, three weeks and three days. You definitely need a teacher, this is not something you can learn by reading. Best luck in your meditations.


An Arahat does not sleep like a normal person. He may give rest to the body but in doing so is fully aware hence not asleep. This is a natural consequence of reducing impurities of the mind.

Even if you are not an Arahat, Vipassana Meditation will make remove impurities of the mind so you will need less sleep. There is no special training to reduce sleep or be aware during sleep other than regular Vipassana Meditation. If your mind falls into Bhavanga then you cannot be aware or mindful or have the right type of attention.

Another enemy is laziness, drowsiness. All night you slept soundly, and yet when you sit to meditate, you feel very sleepy. This sleepiness is caused by your mental impurities, which would be driven out by the practice of Vipassana, and which therefore try to stop you from meditating. You must fight to prevent this enemy from overpowering you. Breathe slightly hard, or else get up, sprinkle cold water on your eyes, or walk a little, and then sit again.


Similarly, when you go to bed at night, close your eyes and feel sensation anywhere within the body. If you fall asleep with this awareness, naturally as soon as you wake up in the morning, you will be aware of sensation. Perhaps you may not sleep soundly, or you may even remain fully awake throughout the night. This is wonderful, provided you stay lying in bed and maintain awareness and equanimity. The body will receive the rest it needs, and there is no greater rest for the mind than to remain aware and equanimous. However, if you start worrying that you are developing insomnia, then you will generate tensions, and will feel exhausted the next day. Nor should you forcefully try to stay awake, remaining in a seated posture all night; that would be going to an extreme. If sleep comes, very good; sleep. If sleep does not come, allow the body to rest by remaining in a recumbent position, and allow the mind to rest by remaining aware and equanimous.

Source: The Discourse Summaries by S.N. Goenka

Also see: Suppati Sutta

  • Please avoid posting duplicate answers. If you think that the same answer fits more than one question, then maybe vote to close questions as duplicate, or add a comment to the question which says "See also the answers to this question".
    – ChrisW
    Apr 30, 2016 at 7:31
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    I drafted this so it fits as an answer to both question. Does not mean both this is the same question. Different question merit separate answers. As person posting I should be able to use parts or in full anything I write to compose other answers. Also this limits effort on my part. I do not see any value to write the same facts using different wording to just for the sake of keeping it different. Apr 30, 2016 at 9:20
  • It might be more helpful to the OP if you post a comment to direct their attention to the related topic in which the original (only) copy of your answer can be found: because they see your answer and also other answers on that topic. Also the SE system posts a moderator flag when answers are copy-and-pasted so I presume that's behaviour they want to discourage ... or more specifically a result (multiple copy-and-pastes of an answer) then they want to discourage.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 30, 2016 at 9:31
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    This is basically not the way that is advocated by SE. See: meta.buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/2002/295 Apr 30, 2016 at 10:33

Being mindful means being awake to the present moment. When you are sleeping and/or dreaming you are not awake nor are you awake to the present moment. I do not think that there are any monks that are mindful when sleeping.

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