How to Turn off your brain, enhance your productivity, and supercharge your creativity with NSDR
Updated: Jul 25
If you are a high-achieving professional chances are you are also struggling with the downside of such high performance.
A relentless restlessness that keeps you from finding peace and turning off your perpetually active mind.
Sometimes, it just seems like you are stuck in Hyperdrive. Your mind is racing a million miles per hour and your body feels like it is in a constant readiness mode.
You like to go all in, and do amazing things but is this the price to pay for being a High Performer?
Isn't there a way to have both?
To turn it on when you want to, and to switch off when you want to?
What if I were to tell you that there is not only a way, but that this will even elevate your productivity and your performance?
Heck, this will elevate all areas of your life!
Let's explore the world of Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest (NSDR)
We want to go all-in, but we also need to recharge
If you are like me, you have a million thoughts and ideas a day.
And you love it!
This is the part of you that you love.
You have an incredible capacity for ideation,
You see correlations where others don't,
You have out-of-this-world productivity,
Your creativity surpasses most,
You are a powerhouse! 💪
But it does seem to come with a downside.
You can't turn it off. 😱
In this day and age, we are being stimulated 24/7 and for people like us who have these hyper-active 'adhd" brains, it can be both an amazing and endless source of creativity or crack cocaine for our brain that never seems to run out.
Therefore, it is vital that you do two things:
Give your brain a rest
In this article, I won't go into the first point but focus on the second one. We will explore a phenomenon called Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest that you can incorporate into your daily life.
What is Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest
"Non-Sleep-Deep-Rest (NSDR), is a kind of rest you get when your body is in a relaxed state, but your mind is still awake. It is like achieving a state which sits in between sleep and being awake and it is awesome!
NSDR involves slowing down your brain wave frequency, similar to what happens during sleep, only that in this case you're awake. The term NSDR was coined by Dr. Andrew Huberman but the concept has existed for centuries. In fact, it's just another name for a centuries-old practice called yoga nidra, which means yogic sleep in Sanskrit.
Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) has gained recognition in recent years as a valuable approach to relaxation and rejuvenation. This form of rest is rooted in conscious relaxation techniques and is said to provide the body and mind with deep relaxation similar to that achieved during sleep, all without actually falling asleep.
NSDR has various benefits that can improve your overall well-being and increase productivity. Below are some of the advantages of practicing NSDR:
Boosts productivity: NSDR can help improve focus and concentration, leading to increased productivity in both personal and professional life.
Reduces stress and anxiety: NSDR can help reduce stress and anxiety levels by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension.
Improves sleep quality: Practicing NSDR can help improve the quality of sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing sleep disturbances.
Enhances creativity: NSDR can help enhance creativity and problem-solving skills by providing a clear and relaxed mind.
Numerous experts in the field of mental and physical well-being have studied and advocated for the benefits of NSDR. Prominent figures such as Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned integrative medicine expert, and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading mindfulness practitioner, have emphasized the importance of conscious relaxation techniques in promoting overall health and well-being.
Furthermore, the recent surge in popularity of the Hubermann Lab podcast by Andrew Huberman has contributed to the recent rise in popularity among High Performers and Life Hacking enthusiasts like myself. (If you haven't heard of the Hubermann Lab, go listen to it today!)
The origins of NSDR can be traced back to various relaxation practices and traditions from around the world. Meditation, for example, has been practiced for centuries in Eastern cultures and is known to induce a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity.
These techniques have since been refined and adapted to suit the needs of modern-day professionals who face unique challenges and demands. The concept of NDSR has emerged as a way to address the specific restlessness and difficulty in switching off that highly driven individual often experience.
Though strictly taken NSDR is Yoga Nidra, I like to use it more as a container label for activities that promote this Deep Rest Non-Sleep state.
Activities like certain styles of yoga, a power nap, meditation, etc.
I love these activities and have incorporated many of them into my daily lifestyle. The reason why I love them is because they are a way for me to help my brain turn off and get some rest.
The thing is, I get overstimulated quickly because my mind sees relationships between everything. This is how my mind works, everything triggers everything. This is a good thing, this is the reason why I am an exceptional learner, strategist, conceptual thinker, all-around creative content creator, and entrepreneur.
I love this side of me but it also means that I am in danger of overwhelming my mind with too many stimuli. Sometimes, I get stuck in overdrive it feels like and this turns into real physical and mental stress. I will feel everything in my body crying for a break but I am unable to stop. I am in hyperdrive mode and want more, more, more knowledge :)
But at some point, I am depleted and the low that follows tends to be really low.
There is has been many times that I had been in insanely, creative phases and crashed afterward because I went at it too long. And this results in days, sometimes weeks of apathy because my brain just needs a break.
So I needed something that could balance this out. Something that lets me tap into that amazing power that resides in my brain, but keeps me balanced and energized.
This is how I came across the below activities. I wanted to find a way to de-stress and recharge quickly when I needed to. So I experimented with many and integrated the ones that work for me into my daily lifestyle.
What I have found is that when I incorporate these into my daily life, I have much more of a flow going on. I can be crazy creative and productive, and work with a deep focus for periods at a time, but I can also turn it down in a minute and also enjoy other aspects of life.
Furthermore, and this is super cool, I have realized that giving your brain a rest is actually a productivity hack. By actively giving my brain space to process information, it creates links, and in turn, fuels my inspiration and creativity. I found out later, there is even a scientific term for this:
It is called "consolidation.
Consolidation to supercharge your creative process
Consolidation refers to the process by which newly acquired information is integrated and stored in long-term memory. During consolidation, the brain engages in various neural processes that strengthen connections between neurons, allowing for the formation of cohesive memories and the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge.
How cool is that!
This consolidation process is crucial for learning and memory formation. It allows the brain to organize and make sense of the information it receives, enhancing understanding and retention. Research has shown that if you give your brain time and space for consolidation, such as for example these NSDR activities, it can significantly improve memory recall and overall cognitive performance.
So by providing your brain with adequate periods of rest and downtime, you are actually optimizing those cognitive processes and allowing your brain to come up with new ideas, consolidate learning, and store things in your long-term memory.
You can imagine that I have come to love taking a power nap 😂
Are you getting excited? 😃
Let's get into the fun stuff. Let's look at a few ways that you can incorporate NSDR!
How I incorporate NSDR into my daily life
There are a few ways, I incorporate NSDR into my daily life but my favorite one is the power nap. I don't have a specific formula, but here is how I do it.
I just sit down on a specific spot on the couch that I use for this specific purpose. This way, you anchor a certain emotional state to a certain place, just like you anchor smells to certain feelings.
I'll sit down, put my feet up and close my eyes.
I'll remind myself not to feel, just feel. I just surrender to my body.
At some point, I am totally surrendered and I'll reach a state between sleep and wake. I can clearly follow my thoughts, kind of like a lucid dream but not so much a dream. It feels more like a slowed-down version of my mind chatter and it feels very comforting and intoxicating in a way. I really enjoy this state.
I'll know that I have reached this state between being away and being asleep as it comes with a lightness in my body.
Make sure to set your stopwatch to monitor how long you sit. You can easily lose all track of time. I can now easily remain for an hour in this state.
Afterward, I can get up without having sleep inertia like when you slept too long during your nap, and feel totally refreshed.
That's why, for me, I prefer sitting up and I really lie in my bed to do this.
I have been doing this for a while now and can achieve this state even in public.
When you start doing this, don't expect to have the same experience as I do. I have been meditating for years, so I get into this state easier. I have noticed though that the more often you do this, the more easily you'll get into the state. Your mind is getting more used to this.
So give it a try but be patient with yourself. Try not to force it, try not to try too much, and focus on releasing and surrendering to your body and thoughts.
Stick with it long enough and you'll have a powerful zero-cost tool for relaxation in your toolbox that you can use ANYWHERE!
Other ways you can start to experiment with NSDR:
Take a Yoga Nidra class to experience how it feels to be in this state. I would recommend that you do multiple to compare experiences and ease into it.
Try a guide NSDR meditation. Find a guided NSDR meditation and try it in the comfort of your own home. There are many that can be found on Youtube.
Book a Floating session. Floating therapy offers a profound opportunity for deep relaxation, rejuvenation, and reconnection with the self. In the serene environment of a floatation tank, you'll float effortlessly in a concentrated Epsom salt solution. The weightlessness and sensory isolation create a cocoon-like space where they can disconnect from external stimuli and turn their attention inward. In this tranquil state, the mind quiets down, stress melts away, and a meditative state unfolds. Honestly, try this. The first time, I did it, I totally lost track of time. It is a bizarre but amazing experience.
Remember, the key is to find a combination of techniques that resonate with you and fit into your lifestyle. Feel free to experiment and adapt these practices to suit your preferences and needs. And be patient.
By incorporating these additional techniques into your daily routine, you can cultivate NSDR practices that support your overall well-being and allow for moments of deep rest in your busy life.
So, my fellow high-performer, it's time to embrace the power of NSDR. It's time to give yourself permission to turn off the noise, find solace in stillness, and unlock the boundless possibilities that await you. Having a hard time giving yourself permission for these breaks? Remind yourself, that taking a break is a productivity and creativity hack that will help you produce better results
NSDR is an excellent way to turn off your brain, enhance your productivity, and supercharge your creativity. By incorporating NSDR activities into your daily routine, you can achieve a perfect balance between high performance and deep rest. Remember that giving your brain a rest is not a luxury; it is a necessity for optimal performance and well-being.
I'd love to hear about your experiences with NSDR! Leave a comment below this article.
P.s. My name is Shorombo Mooij and I am a High-Performance Lifestyle Coach. Everything I do revolves around one thing: Helping people like you unlock their full potential and create lives that truly fulfill them.
Do you want to get inspiration, learn about what routines and hacks you can use, and join a community of like-minded individuals that are ready and hungry for growth? Join my FREE community here.