Optimal information processing requires appropriate mobilization of mental resources. Sleep loss increases homeostatic sleep pressure, thereby reducing mobilization of mental resources and consequently diminishing attention function. Meditation techniques engage attention processes and mobilize mental resources needed to sustain control of these processes, suggesting a promising role for meditation in counteracting attention deficits associated with sleep loss. Following a 21-day training period with a concentrative form of yoga nidra meditation, participants completed tests of sustained attention and attention interference control, and reported sleepiness and fatigue before and after restricted sleep, and then again after a session of meditation or rest following a crossover design. Sustained attention, sleepiness, and fatigue, but not attention interference control, were impaired following a single night of sleep restriction. Following a session of meditation, sustained attention performance improved and sleepiness decreased. Rest alone did not provide these benefits. These findings provide evidence that meditation can improve attention deficits following sleep loss. The impact of meditation on attention can be explained by reduced mobilization of mental processes since this improvement was associated with reduced sleepiness. A brief period of meditation training appears to be sufficient to elicit meditation benefits for attention following sleep loss. However, the duration of improvement following a bout of meditation remains unknown.
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Kohler, M., Rawlings, M., Kaeding, A. et al. Meditation is Effective in Reducing Sleepiness and Improving Sustained Attention Following Acute Sleep Restriction. J Cogn Enhanc 1, 210–218 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-017-0032-5