Question: In one of your books you said that four hours of sleep is all you need if you are meditating. Would you speak about this? I would love to have more time.1

Sri Chinmoy: Everything can be developed, like muscle-power. When you exercise your physical muscles, they become stronger. Similarly, if you pray and meditate, you can get a kind of inner power. Gradually you can increase the length of your meditation. Then meditation itself will give you the power to remain awake. Meditation will strengthen the nerves. We have 86,000 subtle nerves. When the subtle nerves become strong, you do not need seven or eight hours of sleep. But right now, for my disciples, seven hours is good.

Gradually, gradually you can try to bring it down. I always say, if you take coffee ten times a day, then bring it down to nine times, eight times, seven times and so on. In exactly the same way, you can try to reduce the amount you sleep. From seven hours, if you want to suddenly bring it down to four hours, you may perhaps do it for two days. Then, on the third day, you will not be able to get up. You will say, “I have meditated for so many days. Let me take rest.” Everything has to be done very, very slowly, regularly and systematically. If you have been accustomed to sleeping for seven hours, then please try to sleep only fifteen minutes less. Try to continue with six hours and forty-five minutes for a few weeks or a few months. In this way it will be possible for you to sleep less. There is no short cut. From seven hours if you try to bring it down to four or three, it will tell upon your health. But if you do it slowly, regularly and systematically, it is not only quite possible but inevitable.

  1. SCA 682. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 26 November 1992 in Los Angeles.