Non-Sleep Deep Rest Is the New Power Nap. As a Champion Napper I Gave It a Whirl

Will absolutely be trying this again

non sleep deep rest
Catherine Falls Commercial/getty images

Whether I slept poorly the night before, want to recharge for a big night ahead or, honestly, am just having a lazy day, I’m a longtime fan of napping. So when I heard about non-sleep deep rest (NDSR), which includes a number of practices like breathwork and meditation that are geared toward deep rest and relaxation, my interest was piqued. I reached out to breathwork expert Peter Kater to learn more about the benefits of NDSR—plus how to do it on my own.

Meet the Expert

Peter Kater is a breathwork expert who has worked with celebrities like Robert Redford and Ethan Hawke. After decades of exploring healing and wellness techniques, his new guided breathwork series, Spiritus, can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms here. He’s also a Grammy-winning pianist and composer.

What Is Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

Kater tells me, “Non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) refers to any state of deep rest, relaxation and rejuvenation that reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system while still awake.” He explains that the term originally referred mostly to Yoga Nidra (a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, typically induced by a guided meditation), but now includes any activity like meditation, yoga, somatic work and breathwork that has this effect. “In my opinion, breathwork is the quickest and most effective way to create this experience with the most substantial recharging and healing benefits.”

What Are the Benefits of Non-Sleep Deep Rest?

The benefits boil down to relaxation. “The benefit of Breathwork or NSDR practice is that it allows the body and mind an accelerated healing and integration process,” Kater tells me. “Shutting down the fight or flight response created in stress and overactivity and allowing the deepest peace and regulation of your entire nervous system.” Basically, the goal of NDSR, no matter what means you use to try it, is deep relaxation—akin to what you’d feel waking up from a really good nap. As for whether it’s actually better than a nap, Kater says, resoundingly, “Absolutely!”

What Does Non-Sleep Deep Rest Look Like in Practice?

Here’s how to begin, per Kater: Find a private space where you can relax (it’s best to do this on an empty stomach). Try to lie down, but sitting comfortably in a chair is okay as well. Once you’re in a comfortable position, decide how much time you can dedicate to a breathwork practice, meditation, etc.

I tried Kater’s new Spiritus breathwork guide, which is 15-minutes long. During the session, Kater leads you through easy-to-follow breathwork exercises while music plays in the background. It’s very pleasant and extremely relaxing. As for how it differs from a nap? Here’s my two cents: I love a nap (like, love), but I’m a person for whom a nap is a pretty significant time commitment (I’m not a power napper). As such, I’m pretty thrilled to use non-sleep deep rest moving forward when I don’t have an hour to devote to sleeping. While I don’t have any plans to give up my nap habit entirely, I felt super refreshed after just 15 minutes—a total win in my book.

Could Breathwork Be the Secret to a Better Night’s Sleep?

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...