We know from experience what it’s like when we don’t get a good night’s sleep: it leaves us feeling not only sleepy, but groggy and unable concentrate. We have to catch up on sleep in order to function at all. But what if there’s more to getting plenty of shut-eye?
A recent article in Wired magazine suggests that by regulating the duration, quality and timing of sleep, we can become more successful in our lives. The author has been studying the relationship between sleep and performance in elite athletes for more than a decade, and her findings are that by upping their nightly sleep sessions by an hour and a half, the athletes saw a significant improvement in their performance.
Here Osho talks about lack of sleep and finding out how much you need.
“The thing which has been harmed the most in the development of human civilization is sleep. From the day man discovered artificial light, his sleep has become very troubled. And as more and more gadgets started coming into his hands, he started feeling sleep to be an unnecessary thing, too much time is wasted in it: the time when we are asleep is completely wasted. So the less sleep he could do with, the better. It does not occur to people that sleep has any kind of contribution to the deeper processes of life. Some people think that the time spent sleeping is time wasted, so the less they sleep the better; the more quickly they reduce the amount of sleep, the better.
“This is one type of person, wanting to reduce the amount of sleep needed. Another type has been the monks and the hermits who felt that this sleep, this unconsciousness in the form of sleep, was the opposite to the state of self-realization or self-awakening. So according to them it was not good to sleep, and the less you slept the better.[…]
“We have not even noticed that the cause behind all the illnesses, all the disorders that have entered man’s life is his lack of sleep.
“The person who cannot sleep rightly cannot live rightly. Sleep is not a waste of time. The eight hours of sleep are not being wasted: rather, it is because of those eight hours that you are able to stay awake for sixteen hours. Otherwise you would not be able to stay awake all that time. During those eight hours life-energy is accumulated, your life is revitalized, the centers of your brain and heart calm down and your life functions from your navel center. For those eight hours of sleep you again become one with nature and with existence – that is why you become revitalized.[…]
“Sleep needs to come back into man’s life. Really, there is no alternative, no other step than that for the psychological health of humanity. Sleep should be made compulsory by law for the next one or two hundred years! It is very important for a meditator to see to it that he sleeps properly and enough.
Right-sleep will be different for everybody
“And one more thing needs to be understood: right-sleep will be different for everybody. It will not be the same for everyone, because the body has needs which are different for each person according to age and to many other variables.[…]
“Perhaps you may not be aware that the latest research says that there cannot be one fixed time for everyone to wake up. It has always been said that it is good for everyone to wake up at five o’clock in the morning – this is absolutely wrong and unscientific. It is not good for everyone: it may be good for some people but it may be harmful for others. In twenty-four hours, for about three hours the body temperature of each person goes down, and those three hours are the hours of deepest sleep. If you wake the person up during those three hours his whole day will be spoiled and his whole energy will be disturbed.
“Generally, these three hours are between two and five in the morning. For most people these three hours are from two to five in the morning, but it is not the case with everyone. For some people their body temperature is low until six o’clock, for some it is low until seven and for some their temperature starts becoming normal at four in the morning. So if someone wakes up within these hours of low temperature, all twenty-four hours of his day will be spoiled and there will be harmful effects. Only when a person’s temperature starts rising to a normal level is it time for him to wake up.
“Normally it is alright for everybody to wake up with the rising sun, because as the sun rises everyone’s temperature starts rising. But this is not a rule, there are some exceptions. For some people it may be necessary to sleep a little later than sunrise, because each individual’s body temperature rises at a different time, at a different pace. So each person should find out how many hours of sleep he needs and what is a healthy time for him to get up, and that is the rule for him. Whatever the scriptures may say, whatever the gurus may say, there is no need to listen to them at all.
“For right-sleep, the deeper and the longer you are able to sleep, the better. But I am telling you to sleep, not to keep on lying on the bed. Lying down on your bed is not sleep.
“To wake up when you feel it is healthy for you to wake up should be the rule for you. Usually it happens along with the sunrise, but it is possible that this does not happen to you. There is no need to be afraid or worried or to think that you are a sinner and be afraid of going to hell. Many people who get up early in the morning go to hell and many people who get up late are living in heaven! None of this has any relation whatsoever to being spiritual or unspiritual – but right- sleep certainly does have a relationship with it.
Discover what’s best for you
“So each person should discover what is the best arrangement for him. For three months each person should experiment with his work, with his sleep and with his diet, and should find out what are the most healthy, most peaceful and most blissful rules for him.
“And everyone should make his own rules. No two persons are alike, so no common rule is ever applicable to everybody. Whenever someone tries to apply a common rule, it has a bad effect. Each person is an individual. Each person is unique and incomparable. Only he is like himself, there is no other person like him anywhere on the earth. So no rule can be a rule for him until he finds out what the rules for his own life-processes are.”
Osho, The Inner Journey, Talk #3
Suggested reading: OSHO: Body Mind Balancing: Using Your Mind to Heal Your Body