Why Transcendental Meditation is Better than a Power Nap

What do you do to re-charge during the day? Many women have asked us if the TM technique is any different than taking time out for a nap.

In a recently published article on Quartz, Dr. Daniel Gartenberg, a prominent sleep researcher said:

“The most important thing is taking that time off—it’s more conducive to your productivity. A lot of times people think they can like fight through and push harder and harder and harder to get better results, but sleep can give you that, too…. I think taking a break—whether it’s meditation or nap—during that circadian dip can be much more conducive to productivity.”

Dr. Gartenberg has the right idea about taking a break, but that break can be something far more productive than simple rest. Meditation and napping are not the same, and different meditation techniques create differing results from each other too.

There is one technique that surpasses napping and other meditations in its overall effectiveness.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is better than napping

The science:

As far back as 1973, research published in Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology showed that the Transcendental Meditation technique was very successful in unfolding mental capacity. A large randomized controlled trial demonstrated at that time that, in contrast to napping, during TM the subjects showed distinctive EEG changes, including slow, high amplitude alpha activity extending to anterior channels; theta activity different from sleep; rhythmic amplitude-moderated beta waves present over the whole scalp; and synchronization of anterior and posterior channels. This indicates that the TM technique is superior to napping in increasing creativity, practical intelligence, reducing anxiety, and more.

In 2001, the journal Intelligence published data on three studies of 362 high school students at three different schools in Taiwan which tested the hypothesis that regular practice of TM for 15–20 minutes twice a day for 6-12 months would improve cognitive ability. The same seven variables were used in all studies: Test for Creative Thinking-Drawing Production; Constructive Thinking Inventory; Group Embedded Figures Test; State and Trait Anxiety; Inspection Time; and Culture Fair Intelligence Test. TheTM practice produced significant effects on all variables compared to no-treatment controls whereas napping for equivalent periods of time as TM practice had no effect.

Transcendental Meditation, unique among meditation programs for its simplicity, effortlessness, and highly scientifically validated benefits, increases brain orderliness, enhances brain functioning, and increases intelligence, focus and creativity—all this while providing exceptionally deep rest to the body that reduces stress and fatigue. These benefits are predicted by the effects on the brain during the TM practice—including increased alpha coherence spreading into theta—which are correlated with those cognitive benefits. The TM technique is the only meditation researched that shows increases in broadband intra and unique inter-hemispheric EEG coherence associated with increased neurological functioning, IQ, academic performance, grade point average, creativity, concept learning, serenity, emotional stability, self-esteem, moral reasoning, and consciousness orientation.

During the TM practice, there is an important increase in default mode network activity, which is the incubation space in the brain that hatches creative ideas. The experience of inspiration like in “aha moments” are created by the default mode network, which is associated with alpha activity, not theta. All other meditation techniques decrease activity in this brain system.

Power nap vs. Transcendental Meditation

In sleep, and especially the early stages of sleep like in a nap, the mind goes into a relaxed dull state. The metabolic rate starts to drop. But during the TM practice, the mind spontaneously becomes deeply relaxed in an enhanced state of clarity while the metabolism drops deeply. A nap alleviates some surface fatigue and stress while the Transcendental Meditation technique eliminates deeply rooted stress, fatigue, anxiety and imbalances that would otherwise cause disease.

In a reply to a June 14th NY Times article, published researcher Dr. David Orme-Johnson wrote, “…TM creates deep relaxation, but unlike ordinary napping, which is dulling, it increases brain coherence and restful alertness, which is associated with increased creativity, intelligence, and motivation. Moreover, TM has been found to increase the style of brain integration that is found in top managers. Over six months to a year, there are cumulative improvements in the brain’s decision time, the ability to focus and overcome distractions, and emotional intelligence, as well as creativity and fluid intelligence. Children who practice TM at school consistently win state, national, and international prizes in competitions such as Destination Imagination. In business and industry, TM increases employee effectiveness, improves work and personal relationships, and increases leadership behavior.”

TM is different than a nap

  • TM is restful but simultaneously produces a habit of inner alertness. Nap is just rest while the mind remains dull without awareness.
  • TM is increased blood flow in the front of the brain (knows as the CEO of the brain). Nap is decreased blood flow in the front of the brain.
  • TM is alpha activity—inner wakefulness. Nap is theta activity (drowsiness) and delta (sleep)
  • TM allows the mind to access the reservoir of energy, intelligence and creativity in the most settled state of consciousness. Naps and sleep remove surface fatigue and stress.

At work or at home

Even if you have a place to lie down at work, you may or may not fall asleep. In contrast, every time a person sits anywhere and start the TM practice, it works automatically. With naps, you might need a quiet environment whereas with TM noise will not be an obstruction. Unlike other meditation methods, the TM technique is effortless and provides deep healing rest to the mind and body every time. And though the body gets rest in a nap, the mind can’t enjoy the experience—in Transcendental Meditation, though profoundly resting, the mind enjoys awareness of inner calm, collectedness, clarity and charm.

Conclusion? Leave napping to the babies and choose to learn TM—it will reduce your stress, enliven intelligence, rejuvenate you and is the best preparation for dynamic successful activity.

About the Author

Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals, a division of TM for Women in the USA

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