During meditation sits of 30 to 60 minutes, it is common for one or other leg to "fall asleep" after maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Is a leg being "asleep" for between 10 and 45 minutes dangerous? Is it likely to cause nerve damage or some other problem if you do this regularly?

Prior research

Googling for "meditation leg falling asleep dangerous" returns a lot of meditation-based websites, mostly with advice on how to avoid your leg falling asleep, or advice for how to endure it psychologically, but no advice from medical sources on whether it is harmful for the stated periods of time when repeated often (e.g. daily or more, for periods of up to 45 minutes at a time).

Googling for "leg falling asleep dangerous" returns lots of information about why paresthesia occurs, but no specific information on safety of tolerating paresthesia for a stretch of time. The closest I can find is a Slate article which says, with regards to sleeping on an arm causing parasthesia:

But don’t worry: A few hours of nerve compression and decreased blood flow won’t make your arm fall off. But if paresthesia continues over a period of days or weeks, it can lead to lasting damage.

However, the source of this advice is not clear. (It is not a quote from a medical professional).

Another article says:

Most people can move around and relieve the pressure on their nerves. But if "someone is not able to move or sedated they can have permanent nerve injury from this type of compression," says Traub.

However, this does not say anything about timescales.

  • I found lots of information from meditation-related websites, essentially saying "don't worry" or "see the discomfort as part of the practice". However, I did not find any information from medical sources.
    – samfrances
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:41
  • 2
    @CareyGregory I have added some comments detailing prior research.
    – samfrances
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:56
  • And your question doesn't say anything about the position. So, unclear what you're asking. Also, you're veering pretty close to seeking personal medical advice here with this q. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 23:35
  • 1
    It has to be mentioned here that surgeons routinely stop blood flow to limbs for hours without harm. Merely slowing blood flow for an hour or less during a meditation should therefore be harmless.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 1:14
  • How have you defined 'dangerous'?
    – JMP
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 8:53


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