Sleep. 1997 Feb;20(2):102-10.
Mason LI, Alexander CN, Travis FT, Marsh G, Orme-Johnson DW, Gackenbach J, Mason DC, Rainforth M, Walton KG.
Maharishi University of Management, Department of Psychology, Fairfield, Iowa 52557, USA.
Standard ambulatory night sleep electroencephalograph (EEG) of 11 long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program reporting “higher states of consciousness” during sleep (the experimental group) was compared to that of nine short-term practitioners and 11 non-practitioners. EEG tracings during stages 3 and 4 sleep showed the experimental group to have:
1) theta-alpha activity simultaneously with delta activity and
2) decreased chin electromyograph (EMG) during deep sleep (p = 0.002) compared to short-term practitioners. Spectral analysis fast Fourier transform (FFT) data of the first three cycles showed that:
3) the experimental subjects had significantly greater theta 2 (6-8 Hz)-alpha 1 (8-10 Hz) relative power during stages 3 and 4 than the combined control groups [t(30) = 5.5, p = 0.0000008] with no difference in time in delta;
4) there was a graded difference across groups during stages 3 and 4 in theta 2-alpha 1 power, with experimentals having greater power than short-term practitioners, who in turn had greater power than non-practitioners [t(30) = 5.08, p = 0.00002]; and
5) experimentals also had increased rapid eye movement (REM) density during REM periods compared to short-term practitioners (p = 0.04). Previous studies have found increased theta-alpha EEG activity during reported periods of “transcendental consciousness” during the TM technique. In the Vedic tradition, as described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental consciousness is the first of a sequence of higher states. The maintenance of transcendental consciousness along with deep sleep is said to be a distinctive criterion of further, stabilized higher states of consciousness. The findings of this study are interpreted as physiological support for this model.