How to work this hindrance - Sloth and Torpor

One of my major hindrance is torpor. It is such a big problem for me that i can literally just close my eyes and my mind would drift off somewhere into zzz land.

This hindrance often come and visit me. Probably only in 1 out of 10 times it wouldn’t visit me and i could meditate “properly”. Otherwise i find myself drifting in and out of zzz land.

Is there anything i can do to seriously cross this obstacle?

Thank you.


What’s the meditation you’re doing when this shows up?

Anapasati / Vipassana.

I do not have a teacher i follow, thou i used to attend meditation class in a temple with a monk for sometime when i was younger.

I just do what is common taught in Thai Buddhism, focusing on the breathe with Buddho. Or other times investigating various parts of my body.

Basically as long i close my eyes, my mind feels heavy and dull and i want to sleep.

Sloth and torpor is a form of aversion/avoidance according to the suttas. Or you could just be physically tired.

Can you set the intention to investigate the mind/body state?

Personally I find I have lots of sloth and torpor when I’ve been thinking/doing too much.

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So first thing, you are not alone! Plenty of meditators have had this problem, and there are things you can do.

I can’t resist adding an article on mindfulness I saw this morning.

It has this awesome image of a bunch of soldiers “training in transcendental meditation".

Well, they’re certainly transcending something! Apparently they do it to overcome PTSD. I hope it helps.

Anyway, I apologize for the diversion, back to your problem.

The most practical advice on this in the suttas is at AN 7.61, where the Buddha gives a series of teachings to Moggallāna, who before his awakening was struggling with the same issue.

In addition to these, take care to only meditate when you are well rested. :sleeping_bed: And it doesn’t hurt to have a nice cup of coffee before you sit. :coffee:

If you’re doing buddho meditation, try applying yourself with a little more clarity and strength to the recitation. Do it a bit faster and a bit louder in your head. Not too much, just enough so there’s an edge on it. You can settle into peace later on.

If you’ve tried all these, the method I suggest is to reduce meditation time in one posture. Sit for no more than 5 minutes, then stand up. If you can walk, great, if not, just stand for 5 minutes. Then sit again. Do this for your whole meditation session. Don’t do any longer sits. Keep doing this for several weeks, until you have conditioned your mind to be always awake in meditation. If 5 minutes is too long, make it 2 minutes, or one minute. It doesn’t matter how long it is, only that you don’t get drowsy.

Once you are very comfortable and confident with this, start to gradually extend the length of the sitting periods. If at any time you find yourself getting drowsy, shorten the sits once more.

Remember, the value of your meditation is not the amount of time you spend sitting, but the quality of your mindfulness. Don’t compare yourself with other meditators: everyone has their own issues.

I hope these things can help. Be patient, it may take some time. But you’ll get there.


Lots of good advice above- I don’t want to add to noise by repeating it!

I have found having ‘micro-sleep’ episodes when meditating quite refreshing. As you are sitting up it isn’t really possible to fall into a deep sleep -unless you are trained soldier, like in article posted by Ajhan Sujato :wink:.

Its possible to sometimes have a really good meditation after the micro-sleep takes the tiredness away. So even if you are sleepy, do think of continuing as you may have a good meditation session afterwards. Don’t develop an aversion towards the sleepiness!

with metta


Investigating the mind/body does better for me, as it set the mind to work.

Dear Ajaan,

Thank you for taking the time for the advice. I’ll try it and see if it works for me for now.

Thank you.


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Lol sometimes i think maybe i have some medical condition or the natural state of my mind is just such.

I can micro sleep 100 times a day and i will still drift off.

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First make sure you sleep enough at night and if needed as the Buddha did have a nap during the day.
Second sloth and torpor is often due to boredom. Change your approach to meditation and become curious about what’s going on rather than trying to achieve anything by meditating.


This may be narcolepsy - see the paragraph on ‘Sleep attacks’( I suggest approaching your GP and reporting it to them. However it’s not possible to diagnose anyone on the internet.

Its not serious or life threatening, and can get better with time apparently. People who have conditions on the long term often see it as being a normal variation, but things can be improved. I had a friend with this condition- he is much better with treatment now. There might be the possibility having meditation sessions where you are much more alert.

with metta


Wow. Thanks i’ll read through!

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Except if it happens when you’re driving or operating heavy machinery! A friend of mine gave up her drivers license after a few scary and potentially life threatening incidents.
Definitely worth checking out!


If you’re chubby , then you might want to check your heart .

Physical exercise can be helpful.

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There’s so much wonderful advice already given here, including possible medical solutions. It’s such a great resource for others struggling with this hindrance. I hope you don’t mind if I edit the title so it’s clear what the hindrance is - there might be someone else out there who might be more likely to read this topic, who really might benefit, as a result of this small change. Anumodana for your very useful question!! :pray:t6:

Also, I was thinking about your question again today and it ocurred to me to ask you how long this has been happening for and if you are new to meditation, whether this happens all the time or whether you go through phases where it happens for a period of time and then goes away?

With metta and many thanks for asking this wonderful question.

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