Lama Surya Das – Ep. 66 – Sleep and Meditation with Dr. Ian Dunican

Dr. Ian Dunican joins Lama Surya Das for a discussion about ways that meditation practice can improve our quality of sleep.

Dr. Ian Dunican is currently the Director of Melius Consulting/Sleep4Performance and has recently completed a Ph.D. with the University of Western Australia (UWA), where he worked with elite sporting organizations/athletes to optimize performance. Learn more at

Links from this episode: Ajahn Brahm | Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality

Show Notes

Sleep and Meditation (Opening)

Dr. Dunican shares the insight and personal breakthroughs that he experienced during his time at a meditation retreat with Lama Surya Das. He talks about how this event inspired him to pursue study into the connection between meditation and sleep.

“We are going to start looking at the positive benefits of meditation and sleep because many people report these benefits, but they have not been studied in this applied setting of the retreat.” – Dr. Ian Dunican

Coming to Rest (10:55)

Even practiced meditation practitioners need help sleeping sometimes.  Lama Surya Das and Ian talk about the bad habits that keep us up at night.

“The biggest thing I think (that impacts sleep quality) is the use of electronic devices and external stimulus. There are varying degrees of results from the use of electronics across the general population and in elite athletes and so on in terms of how it affects your ability to fall asleep, but I think what is really interesting is not even the electronic device use – it is the activity before bed. You get a frustrating message from someone that makes you angry it is going to raise cortisol which has an inverse relation to melatonin, which is a sleep hormone. So, if melatonin is suppressed and cortisol is high, you are going to find it extremely difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.” – Dr. Ian Dunican   

Why Sleep? (26:45)

Ian and Lama Surya Das speak more about the research being done on the impact of meditation on sleep. They talk about how little science actually knows about sleep. How might upcoming research between sleep and meditation inform the gap in understanding about sleep?

Learn more about the science and practice of presence with Dr. Dan Siegel and Francesca Maximé on Ep. 27 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Dream Yoga (33:55)

Is there any relationship between rebirth and sleep in terms of remembering past lives through dreams? Lama Surya Das explores our experience in the dream realm and what it has to teach us about ourselves.

Lifting Ourselves Up (47:15)

Ian closes with a reflection on the greater good that could be done if we as a society place a higher importance on our quality of sleep. What if everyone was well rested, collected and at ease?