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Resilience to Sleep Deprivation and Changes in Sleep Architecture in Shoonya Meditators

Sleep is physiologically important for memory consolidation, mood and hormonal regulation, and maintaining low levels of systemic inflammation. However, a substantial proportion oy f people are reported to regularly sleep less than the recommended 7-9 hours a night. Meditation may be a means to mitigate the negative effects of sleep deprivation, as many types of meditations are associated with increasing high-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), which is an index of parasympathetic control of the heart. Greater parasympathetic drive may be associated with physiological buffering of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation.

The investigators want to conduct a waitlisted randomized control trial where subjects are asked to learn and practice a 15-minute meditation (shoonya meditation) or 15 minutes of alternate nostril breathing, twice a day. Subjects will be asked to complete some cognitive tests before and after a night of sleep and a night of sleep deprivation. During the night of sleep, participants will undergo polysomnography recording for sleep architecture and quality.

Subjects will be asked to undergo these same study procedures after 2 months of meditation practice, after which the alternate nostril breathing group will also learn shoonya meditation. Only this group will asked to undergo the same study procedures for a third time, after they have practiced shoonya meditation for 2 months.