Relationship Between Meditation Depth and Waking Salivary Alpha-Amylase Secretion Among Long-Term MBSR Instructors

Alyson Haslam, Michael D. Wirth, Sara Wagner Robb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to characterize sympathetic activity by using waking salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) concentrations in a group of long-term meditation instructors and to examine the association between meditation (depth, dose and duration) and the waking alpha-amylase response. Salivary alpha-amylase samples were collected (immediately upon waking and at 15-min, 30-min and 45-min intervals after waking) from mindfulness-based stress reduction instructors to determine both the area under the curve and the awakening slope (difference in alpha-amylase concentrations between waking and 30-min post-waking). It was determined through general linear models that neither years of meditation nor meditation dose were associated with the awakening sAA slope, but higher scores for meditation depth (greater depth) was associated with a more negative (or steeper) awakening slope [Quartile (Q)1: −7 versus Q4: −21 U/mL; p = 0.06], in fully adjusted models. Older age (p = 0.04) and a later time of waking (p < 0.01) also were associated with less negative awakening slope values. Smoking was associated with lower area under the curve values (smokers: 1716 U/mL versus nonsmokers: 2107 U/mL; p = 0.05) in fully adjusted models. The results suggest a ‘healthy’ sAA waking slope among individuals who meditate more deeply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-306
Number of pages9
JournalStress and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • alpha-amylase
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • stress


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