Age old wisdom recommends a solid eight hours of sleep per night is the optimal amount of sleep. However, how much sleep one needs may differ for each individual. Age, diet, exercise, stress, and the degree of strenuous activity can impact the amount of sleep one requires per night. Next time you ask yourself how much sleep do I need, you can consider it from a different perspective. Sadhguru, a realized yogi and one of the foremost authorities on yoga, addresses the need for sleep and how to keep yourself well rested.
Sadhguru: “The fact that you sleep at night makes some difference between your mornings and evenings. Your mornings would be just as bad if you did not rest well at night. So what is making the difference is not sleep, but the level of relaxation. A good morning is a good beginning, but you slowly lose your cool as the day progresses and you get stressed. So what is necessary right now is to keep your system in such a way that it is relaxed by itself, and activity does not take a toll on it. You may be physically exhausted, but you need not be stressed. It is necessary to keep the system this way. You can’t slow down your system at the cost of activity. But you’re so relaxed that you can’t do any activity – that’s no good either. For this, there is a technology; there is a whole system to make this happen.
What time you go to bed depends on your lifestyle. What matters is the number of hours of sleep you need. I know there is a lot of talk that you must sleep for eight hours a day. What the body needs is not sleep, but restfulness, relaxation. If you keep your body very relaxed and loose throughout the day, if your work, your exercise, are all forms of relaxation for you, your sleep quota will go down naturally. People want to do everything in tension. I see people walking in the park tensed, you know. Now this kind of exercise may be causing more harm to you than well-being, because you are going at everything like it’s a war. Why don’t you walk easy? Whether you walk or jog, why can’t you do it easily, joyfully?
Don’t battle with life; keeping yourself fit and well is not a battle, you know. Play a game, swim, walk, whatever you like. If you don’t like to do anything except eat cheesecake, you know there will be a problem. Otherwise there is no problem about being relaxed with any activity. So how much sleep does my body need? It depends on the level of physical activity that you are performing. There is no need to fix either food or sleep. These many calories I must eat; these many hours I must sleep – this is a foolish way to handle life. Today your activity levels are low, you eat less. Tomorrow if your activity is very high, you eat more. It’s the same with sleep. The moment the body is well rested it will get up, be it 3 A.M. or 8 A.M. Your body should not wake up to an alarm bell. Once it feels sufficiently rested, it must come awake.”