February 8, 2023

Trouble Integrating? Try a Good Night’s Sleep.

The similarities between a full-on psychedelic experience and an ordinary nightdream are not limited by the aesthetics of the experience, there is also a correlation in how both experiences promote a more organized neural structure by temporarily disrupting ordinary consciousness and offering the participant a chance to reorganize their minds in a more optimized way than before the psychedelic experience.

Science suggests that sleep can help our brains reset; clearing the path for a wholesome psychedelic integration.

A new wave of researchers is visiting the hypothesis that sleep may play a more significant role in psychedelic integration than we first thought. Scientists suggest that the interruption in the ordinary state of consciousness caused by a profoundly transformative psychedelic journey may help the participant to reorganize the neurons more efficiently than before the psychedelic experience, which may be the mechanism behind the long-term benefits of psychedelic retreats and it correlates with the effects of a good night’s sleep in our brains. Do psychedelics affect sleep, and can sleeping after the trip help with integration?

There have been found(1) similarities between REM (rapid eye movement) sleep — the stage where dreaming occurs — and psychedelic states; both states challenge our ordinary waking consciousness in the sense that the world becomes surprising and unpredictable, which can be a fruitful state of mind for a psychedelic ceremony, but quite unreliable for everyday problem-solving. When going through our days, a specific rigidity of mind may be required to guarantee consistency of behavior. Over time, the mind may become too rigid and incapable of freely evolving into more optimal states; this can be evident in bad habits that are hard to kick and a narrowing of the mind. By temporarily adding disorder to the system and allowing the neural network to reorganize itself, the participant with a rigid neural network is well-equipped to establish a more novel and sustaining way to think.

A temporary state of high mental entropy can be achieved both by participating in a psychedelic ceremony and from deep states of sleep; researchers(2) are talking about this phenomenon using the self-optimization hypothesis to argue that the human body is equipped to optimize itself every night during sleep by inhibiting the limitations we impose on our minds daily and allowing the neural network to explore new and unexpected configurations freely, ultimately promoting a more optimal large-scale neural coordination than before sleeping.

The theory of self-optimization also offers insight into how a psychedelic journey followed by a proper integration process can change how people think and act beneficially and durably. During the psychedelic ceremony, the participant experiences fuller neural integration and plasticity than in regular life, inviting the participant into a fertile landscape for insights, breaking old habits, and a renewed outlook on life. However, as the substance is fully metabolized, and the effects decay, the excitement in the neural network gradually gives way to ordinary states of consciousness. After the journey, the long-lasting benefits are not transparent because while some of the psychedelic integration happens subconsciously, a big part of learning from the journey comes from digging into the experience actively. An experienced integration coach is recommended at the integration stage.

Regarding the subconscious part of the integration, sleeping well can assist tremendously in absorbing the lessons and epiphanies experienced during the psychedelic journey and implementing them in everyday life. The most popular psychedelic substances (psilocybin, Ayahuasca, LSD, etc.) affect our sleep by inhibiting or enhancing the REM and non-REM stages. Right after the psychedelic ceremony, the participant’s sleep will be affected, which could be beneficial, or it could also be not ideal. Along with the integration —  that happens when the effects are gone, during the days, weeks, and months after the psychedelic voyage, — a healthy sleeping habit is paramount to promoting a more wholesome psychedelic integration.

The most striking similarity between how a psychedelic trip and sleeping well affects the human neural network is in how both experiences seem to be a spontaneous process that happens in the human body that detox itself from rigid states of mind and supports a more flexible neural network that is prompt to adapt to dynamic real-life problems. Pairing the psychedelic integration with good sleeping habits may give you an enduring refreshed outlook on life that is more balanced than before the trip. Make sure to plan on sleeping well immediately after the ceremony and maintain good sleeping habits throughout the entire integration stage to maximize the efficacy of your integration practice.

Sleeping well is an activity that naturally helps us learn from the day; besides, it is during sleep that new information is processed and stored in memory.(5) participants need to avoid being sleep deprived, especially because recently researchers(4) theorized that during sleep, our brain undergoes a detox process that is critical for someone who just ingested a psychedelic substance. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, it could be what is keeping you from integrating your last trip.

As mentioned before, psychedelic integration unfolds in two ways; one way it happens is behind the curtains, subconsciously, and can be improved by sleeping well. TIntegration also happens consciously, with active attention, and may require the participant that they take a few hours every week to sit down without distractions and think about the lessons of the experience and try to figure out how to implement the insights and epiphanies of the trip into a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Fully integrating a sacred ceremony can be a tall order; one could even say that the integration is an ongoing process that never ends. To drastically improve your psychedelic integration practice, speak to a dedicated coach that can accompany you throughout your journey.

Have a great trip!


  1. Tagliazucchi, E., Roseman, L., Kaelen, M., Orban, C., Muthukumaraswamy, S. D., Murphy, K., Laufs, H., Leech, R., McGonigle, J., Crossley, N., Bullmore, E., Williams, T., Bolstridge, M., Feilding, A., Nutt, D. J., & Carhart-Harris, R. (2016). Increased Global Functional Connectivity Correlates with LSD-Induced Ego Dissolution. Current Biology, 26(8), 1043–1050. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.02.010
  2. Froese T, Leenen I, Palenicek T. A role for enhanced functions of sleep in psychedelic therapy? Adaptive Behavior. 2018;26(3):129–135. doi:10.1177/1059712318762735
  3. Carhart-Harris RL, Leech R, Hellyer PJ, Shanahan M, Feilding A, Tagliazucchi E, Chialvo DR, Nutt D. The entropic brain: a theory of conscious states informed by neuroimaging research with psychedelic drugs. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Feb 3;8:20. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00020. PMID: 24550805; PMCID: PMC3909994.
  4. Xie et al “Sleep initiated fluid flux drives metabolite clearance from the adult brain.” Science, October 18, 2013. DOI: 10.1126/science.1241224
  5. NIH News in Health. Sleep On It. How Snoozing Strengthens Memories. (April 2013)., Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/sleep-it 

The text expresses personal opinions and it is written as an informative text. It should not be considered to be professional advice nor should it be used as professional advice. Neither the Blog (psychedelics-integration.com) nor the author is liable for the wrong use of this information.

Trouble Integrating? Try a Good Night’s Sleep.

Alexandre Perrella

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