Sleepiness is the first of three levels of mental dullness that we need to be able to recognize and treat. It’s the form of mental dullness that the vast majority of beginning meditators have to overcome.
1. The first and most obvious antidote is to get more sleep—and quality sleep. Shut down your electronics a couple hours before bed. Wear a sleep mask. Don’t use your bedroom for work, and keep it uncluttered. If you have too much going on in your life and don’t have time to sleep more, reconsider your commitments. Enough quality sleep is absolutely essential to physical, mental, and emotional health.
2. Don’t schedule your meditations for times when you are predictably sleepy, e.g. right before bed. If you’re also sleepy first thing in the morning, do something to wake yourself up, e.g. showering, drinking water, or (if you’re familiar with it,) performing a round of Kapalbhati breathing.
3. Meditate on an empty or mostly empty stomach. That plate of pasta you just ate before your meditation session? Yeah, it’ll make you sleepy.
4. Keep your blood sugar levels steady. Even if you meditate on an empty stomach, if you spiked your blood sugar a few hours ago with a liter of soda, you may experience a crash.
5. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps us keep balanced energy throughout the day and releases hormones that keep us alert and energized.