Questioner: I was wondering, how can I decrease my hours of sleep? And how can I improve my sleep quality?
Sadhguru: See, sleep is not a requirement in one’s life. What the body requires is rest. Sleep is just one form of rest. Lot of people are beginning to think… in Tamilnadu if somebody says [speaking in Tamil] – means, they are sleeping. Need not be – you can sit and rest, isn’t it? Yes? You can stand and also rest. You are running, if you stand – doesn’t it feel like rest? You are standing, you sit down – doesn’t it feel like rest? There are many ways of resting.
Sleep is not a requirement in one’s life. What the body requires is rest
The most important thing is – rest means, you are changing the energy equation, where consumption is lowered, production is going on at the same pace. So, after a period of time, you feel rejuvenated. Because consumption has been lowered. Essentially, you are managing the energy equation. If you are in activity, the consumption is more. Whatever you are producing, it’s not enough. After some time, you feel exhausted, because the consumption has been heavy. If you lower the consumption, and increase the production – after some time, you feel energised.
Suppose you are running – if you run a mile, after that you can’t take another step, let’s say. […] After a mile or 2, you can’t take another step – don’t eat anything, don’t drink anything, just sit down for 10 minutes. Again you find rejuvenated, isn’t it? All you have done is – lowered the consumption, production is still at the same level. So, now there are ways to lower the consumption and increase the productivity also. So, if you come to a certain state of ease… When I say ease – it’s not something that most people will ever understand. Because most people are not at ease.
If you are at total ease, if the system is at total ease, everything is at ease – it is well rested, always it is rested. Because it is so rested throughout the day… If you sleep in the afternoon, do you see you can’t sleep much in the night. Yes? Oh, you are already experimenting! If you sleep in the afternoon, you can’t sleep much in the night. Unless you are sick, or you are very tired, because of something. Because it is well rested in the day, it can’t sleep in the night. So, you don’t have to necessarily sleep. If you sit here also, if your body is resting – you will see, your sleep quota will naturally shrink.
You don’t have to necessarily sleep. If you sit here also, if your body is resting – you will see, your sleep quota will naturally shrink
How to increase the quality of sleep? Don’t try to increase the quality of sleep. The ideal way to live is – there is no sleep in my life. But that’s not possible, right now. Still body has some inertia. So, it sleeps minimum. Rest of the time, it is at ease. If you keep this [body] at ease, then sleep does not occur to the body, unless it comes to a certain point of exhaustion.
So body is never ever asking for sleep, but it is definitely asking for rest. If you do not know, how to sit here in a restful manner, it will try to rest like this[doze off]. If you can sit here totally at ease, it will sit here for hours, without falling asleep. Otherwise this [dozing off] is the only way it knows how to rest. So, do not try to increase the quality of sleep. There is no such thing. Just learn to keep your body restful, and at ease – consciously.
If you keep this [body] at ease, then sleep does not occur to the body, unless it comes to a certain point of exhaustion
If you sit here now, one simple thing you can do is – you sit down, you come and sit down here, just move your attention from the top of your head, down to your toes, and see if everything is loose and easy, and relaxed and at ease. Are you sitting like this [stiff]? Sit – just bring this [body] to ease, as much as you can. Not everything is in your conscious level. As much as you can, consciously – bring it to ease. You will see suddenly if you are the kind who will fall asleep at 10 O’ clock, if you simply… 1 hour you sit here at ease, you will see your sleep will get postponed by half an hour. You won’t feel sleepy at 10. Naturally you are awake.
So, instead of trying to increase the sleep quality… No – you increase the quality of life. If you increase the quality of life – when I say increase in the quality of life… Nothing in your life, whatever you may be doing, from simple breathing to any complex activity that you do in your life – the quality of that will not improve, if you can not do it with ease. Is that so? Only when you can do something with total ease… let’s say you are riding a bicycle – if you are riding like this [stiffly], you can’t say you are enjoying your cycling. If you can ride it with ease, with so much ease that even if you take off your hands it will go only straight, the way you want it to go – you are at ease. Because you are at ease, the quality of your cycling has improved, isn’t it?
Instead of trying to increase the sleep quality… you increase the quality of life
So, these two things are connected. So, if you enhance the quality of your life, naturally your sleep quota will go down. If your quality of your life goes bad, you can’t do anything with ease, then also you can not sleep. But, stressfully you can not sleep. Not because you are well rested, you can not sleep. You can not sleep because you are stressed out. If you do this, you will not live long. If your body does not get enough rest, it will die. It will break, something will go. If you are not at ease, that means you are in dis-ease – you are heading there. You are in dis-ease means, you are in a certain state of ill-health. But if we say you are deceased, that means you are dead! So, don’t move… stay in the direction of dis-ease. Move in the direction of ease.
If you become totally ‘ease’, sleep quota will come down. Quality of sleep will be good, because quality of life is good. You want to increase only the quality of your sleep, life does not work like that. If you wake up well in the morning, you will also sleep well in the night.
There are a whole lot of systems to give this to people. In the Eastern cultures, in India particularly, all the systems are built into one’s life – of course, they are throwing it away, because they all became modern. Modern means to be distressed. Constantly in tension. Agitated – worked up about everything, that means you are really modern. Otherwise traditionally all these things were built in. From morning when you wake up, till you go to sleep – what you should do, how you should handle yourself – all these things were fixed.
Till the beginning of this generation, everybody was aware. Suddenly they all became English educated! And they become modern and tense. Otherwise this was called achara-vichara. What to do, what not to do. Everything is built, from morning to night – all aspects of life, how todo it. If you do it like that, so that you can do everything with ease. As much ease as possible. So, those who are not able to dedicate their life to yoga and spiritual process, for them it was built into natural culture – at least this much ease you know, so that you wake up happily, and go to sleep and sleep well.
Even today, this is the thing that they will say in India – if people say, what has happened, you know, this happened, that happened in my life. They say – that’s ok, but in my life, if I lie down, I sleep well. He might have made so much money, it’s ok. But I sleep well. You hear this? People say this, it’s part of the cultural expression. I sleep well means, I am living well. Only because I live well, I can sleep well. If I’m not living well, I can not sleep well.
So do not try to increase the… improve the quality of your sleep – improve the quality of your life, then you will naturally sleep well also.