I can lay down in a rested position with my mind at ease, but no matter how relaxed I am or for how long i do it, it seems I'll still need sleep eventually. What's the difference - what is occurring during sleep that can't occur now matter how relaxed or rested you are?

And if you know of any studies that have been done to try and mimic the benefits of sleep in a waking state - ie during some type of meditation or whatnot - I'd consider that relevant and interesting to know.

  • $\begingroup$ I wish i could give a one word answer: brain-activity.. $\endgroup$
    Jul 22, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG As that would be the epitome of "vague", I'm glad you can't. :) $\endgroup$
    – coburne
    Jul 22, 2014 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ haha sorry but it is the brain activity that is different between sleep and just physical rest.. al you need is details :P $\endgroup$
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG you bring up an interesting point actually because I had thought something similar - that your brain must be takin a rest, but then I thought to myself: dreaming has to be pretty brain-intensive, no? we're often creating scenarios that frequently don't even follow the same rules of existence as our waking world. It seems to go far beyond normal waking reverie; isn't that taxing on the brain? $\endgroup$
    – coburne
    Jul 22, 2014 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @coburne Personally when I dream during my sleep, I think I am not refreshed and I feel weariness. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2014 at 0:50

2 Answers 2


Difference between rest and sleep

There are many factors which describe the difference between rest and sleep.


Rest occurs with conscious breathing. This allows the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to rest. The autonomic nervous system belongs to the peripheral nervous system. ANS controls many organs and muscles in the body.

In most situations, people do not know about the workings of the ANS since it functions in an involuntary, reflexive manner. For instance, we hardly notice if blood vessels change size.

This is the same case when our heart beats faster. There are some people who can control some of the functions in the body and can know the heart rate or blood pressure.


Sleep it is a natural state of rest for mind and body. It happens in cyclic pattern. This can be one of the reasons to describe the difference between rest and sleep. There are four stages of sleep.

In the first stage of sleep, there is low-frequency, low-amplitude $\theta$ waves. This stage last several minutes before you enters into the next stage of sleep. In stage 2 of sleep, you brain moves into low frequency. In the third stage of sleep, you receive more high-amplitude $\delta$ waves.

During stage 4, the delta waves account for more of your brain activity and then they return back to stage 1.

Resting is more like being couch potatoes.

Rest is important for health and sleep is a necessary factor. You need both for your physical and mental activity to create energy. When the energy level goes down and wastes increase, there is tiredness and body needs rest. When you take rest, energy is restored. All the waste in the body gets extinguished. Rest and sleep are dependent upon each individual’s ability to relax. If an individual is tensed, he cannot be in the state of rest. Rest is taken to counteract fatigue.


[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/when-you-cant-sleep-how-good-is-lying-in-bed-with-your-eyes-closed/262484/

[2] http://insomnia.ygoy.com/difference-between-rest-and-sleep/

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for Resting is more like being couch potatoes.. Just kidding. This is a pretty good answer. $\endgroup$
    – J. Musser
    Jul 24, 2014 at 5:28

REST is not a deep sensation. We define various types of waves that are drawn using electroencephalogram.

  1. $\alpha$ waves:

    • Awake but resting position.
    • Frequency: 8-13 Hz.
    • They originate from occipital region
  2. $\beta$ waves:

    • Alert wide awake person.
    • They originate from frontal region.
    • Frequency about 14-30 Hz.
  3. $\theta$ waves:

    • They occur under stress and in case one is drowsy.
    • Frequency about 4-7 Hz.
  4. $\delta$ waves:

    • These originate when person is in deep sleep.
    • Frequency about 1-3 Hz.
  • $\begingroup$ does the lower frequency correspond to lower ionic activity by all neurons, or the same ionic activity per neuron, but fewer active neurons; ie, if I'm at a football game and everybody is screaming, decibel levels are high, but everybody talking at once might have the same lower decibel leval as 90% of people completely quiet and 10% of the people screaming. $\endgroup$
    – coburne
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:59

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