November 17, 2022

Why do we need a daily active or non-sleep deep rest practice? Part 1

Why do we need a daily active or non-sleep deep rest practice? Part 1
Brandon Hauer, PhD
Time Read
6
min

We are constantly connected.

 

It’s making it more difficult to turn off our minds before bed. More difficult to restore our eyes and minds after a full day of spreadsheets at work and Netflix at night.


Simply put, our eyes and minds are overtaxed. Many of us are over-worked, over-tired, and are over-using screens, making it hard to unwind and relax.

 

Even just two hours of screen use can lead to a range of symptoms, collectively known as ‘digital eye strain’. These include itchy, burning, or red eyes; head and neck pain; and fatigue [1].


Moreover, digital strain symptoms -- such as the kind seen after heavy screen use -- are associated with poor mental health conditions, especially mood, anxiety, and depression [2-6].


Our typical nighttime routines are no longer as effective, because we’re constantly engaged with our devices until the moment we fall asleep – straining our eyes, delaying our sleep, and disquieting our minds.

 

As a result, it’s more important than ever to be intentional about how we rest. Daily deep rest habits, like yoga-nidrā, boost sleep, stress, health and wellness.


Yoga-nidrā is the ability to enter a very deep, non-REM sleep stage, but yet still maintain awareness both internally and of the surrounding environment [7].


Yoga-nidrā is different from traditional meditation because it is practiced lying down, fully awake in the state of being between sleep and consciousness.

 

The intentional rest pose – lying down – is one of the motivations behind REST’s design. We want users to truly disengage and take a moment for themselves, either reclined or fully lying down.


Traditionally, yoga-nidrā can be practiced using an audio recording, or in a class. REST was developed to help digital device users rest both their eyes and their minds with a science-based sensory experience through thermoregulation and breath awareness.

 

The human body can detect changes in temperature smaller than 0.1°C [8]. We’ve synchronized REST’s vibrational and thermal sensations to heighten your sensory awareness throughout each session. We call this sensory-guided meditation (with no previous training required) Thermal Meditation™.


Slow, paced breathing can be sleep promoting [8], and relaxing [10-12].

 

One particularly effective type of deep breathing is known as “resonance frequency breathing”.

 

Resonance frequency breathing is when your breathing rate and heart rate become synchronized. Typically this happens around 6 breaths per minute. Doing this increases the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with "rest and digest" functions [10-12].


We can roughly measure parasympathetic nervous system activation by looking at heart rate variability (HRV). Increasing your HRV (e.g., by deep breathing) better equips you to respond to stress. This is one of the key ways deep breathing can help you de-stress [10-12].

 

Resonance frequency breathing can improve mood, lower blood pressure, and even lower anxiety [11,13].

 

In fact, deep breathing can even increase tear production [14].


By matching your breathing to the multi-sensory prompts of REST, you can experience a whole-body relaxation effect. This can lower stress, increase pleasant feelings, and help you get to sleep [9-12].


In essence, REST acts as a guide to habitual yoga-nidrā practice. A regular habit for optimizing your wellness, from your eyes to your sleep.

 

 

References

  1. Kaur K, Gurnani B, Nayak S, Deori N, Kaur S, Jethani J, Singh D, Agarkar S, Hussaindeen JR, Sukhija J, Mishra D. Digital Eye Strain- A Comprehensive Review. Ophthalmol Ther. 2022 Oct;11(5):1655-1680. doi: 10.1007/s40123-022-00540-9.
  2. Wolffsohn J, Negishi K, Ayaki M, Kawashima M, Tsubota K. Sleep and subjective happiness between the ages 40 and 59 in relation to presbyopia and dry eye. Plos One 2021;16(4):e0250087.
  3. Wu M, Liu X, Han J, Shao T, Wang Y. Association Between Sleep Quality, Mood Status, and Ocular Surface Characteristics in Patients With Dry Eye Disease. Cornea 2018;38(3):311-7.
  4. Liang C-Y, Cheang W-M, Wang C-Y, Lin K-H, Wei L-C, Chen Y-Y, et al. The association of dry eye syndrome and psychiatric disorders: a nationwide population-based cohort study. BMC Ophthalmology 2020;20(1).
  5. Kitazawa M, Sakamoto C, Yoshimura M, Kawashima M, Inoue S, Mimura M, et al. The Relationship of Dry Eye Disease with Depression and Anxiety: A Naturalistic Observational Study. Translational Vision Science & Technology 2018;7(6):35.
  6. Bitar MS, Olson DJ, Li M, Davis RM. The Correlation Between Dry Eyes, Anxiety and Depression: The Sicca, Anxiety and Depression Study. Cornea 2019;38(6):684-9.
  7. Parker S. Training attention for conscious non-REM sleep: The yogic practice of yoga-nidrā and its implications for neuroscience research. Prog Brain Res. 2019;244:255-272. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.10.016.
  8. Stevens JC, Choo KK. Temperature sensitivity of the body surface over the life span. Somatosens Mot Res. 1998;15(1):13-28. doi: 10.1080/08990229870925.
  9. Laborde S, Hosang T, Mosley E, Dosseville F. Influence of a 30-Day Slow-Paced Breathing Intervention Compared to Social Media Use on Subjective Sleep Quality and Cardiac Vagal Activity. J Clin Med. 2019;8(2):193. Published 2019 Feb 6. doi:10.3390/jcm8020193
  10. Lehrer P, Kaur K, Sharma A, Shah K, Huseby R, Bhavsar J, et al. Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback Improves Emotional and Physical Health and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta Analysis. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 2020;45(3):109-29.
  11. Steffen PR, Austin T, DeBarros A, Brown T. The Impact of Resonance Frequency Breathing on Measures of Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure, and Mood. Front Public Health 2017;5:222.
  12. Lehrer PM, Gevirtz R. Heart rate variability biofeedback: how and why does it work? Front Psychol 2014;5:756
  13. Magnon V, Dutheil F, Vallet GT. Benefits from one session of deep and slow breathing on vagal tone and anxiety in young and older adults. Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 29;11(1):19267. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-98736-9.
  14. Sano K, Kawashima M, Ikeura K, Arita R, Tsubota K. Abdominal breathing increases tear secretion in healthy women. Ocul Surf. 2015 Jan;13(1):82-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2014.08.002.