In this article by Integral Yoga teacher and Zen priest, Daishin Eric McCabe, he explores common boundaries, as well as distinctions between yogic and Buddhist approaches to sleep. Included in the discussion are Yoga Nidra, the koshas, and Buddhist Sleep Yoga practices.

Several years ago, I was seeing a Naturopathic doctor who recommended that I get at least 9 hours of sleep every night. At that time, I was struggling with poor health that included dangerously low levels of white and red blood cells, as well as low platelets. My energy was also very low. Allopathic Doctors had been testing me for forms of blood cancer. I was really scared about all this, and I felt there was more I could do for myself then simply get my blood tested every few weeks, or take a B vitamin (as I was instructed).

I decided to see a Naturopathic Doctor. This doctor had me become much more aware not only of vitamins, but of eating a balanced diet that consisted of lots of fresh veggies, fruits, and whole foods. As a vegetarian, I later realized how crucial it is to pay attention to not simply refraining from eating meat, but to the quality and source of non-meat products I was putting into my body. This all made a lot of sense to me. But I was shocked to hear the Naturopath tell me to get at least nine hours of sleep. Whereas I had considered dietary advice well before practicing meditation, up until that point I had never given consideration to how much sleep I should get. I had a hard time reconciling the Buddha’s instructions, not to sleep, with the very real need for physical sleep.

Regardless of my feelings about sleep, I’ve come to look at it as an opportunity to practice. Nights when I’m restless I may choose to wake up and sit in meditation. Or I may choose to remain lying down practicing Yoga Nidra. I explore how it is to sleep on the left verses the right side of my body. At times, I consider the Buddha, resting on his right side as he enters Nirvana. Sleep can be a part of our practice. We can become curious about it and take it, perhaps, more seriously than we have yet done.  Read the whole article here at Daishin’s blog, Zen Fields.