Question: Can we start sleeping very little and still function?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly! Spiritual Masters don't sleep more than two or three hours a day. When do they have the time? They don't have the time and they don't need it. Their disciples sleep on their behalf.

I am your spiritual Master, and since I sleep very little, I give you permission to sleep for me. But if it is more than eight hours, I take away the permission. No disciple, no sincere aspirant, should sleep more than eight hours. Seven, six, five-and-a-half hours is sufficient for almost everybody. But if that seems impossible, I say eight hours is the maximum. If you sleep more than eight hours, then you are taking those extra hours away from God and giving them to death.

If you sleep for eight hours, you are getting hardly more than half an hour or fifteen minutes of real sleep, soothing and fulfilling sleep. You don't get real rest; you are just in the world of inconscience. The other day at Columbia University a lady told me that just because she meditates more she has to sleep more. This is absurd. If you meditate more, you will receive boundless inner energy and you will develop the spiritual capacity to conquer sleep.

I had a cousin who used to meditate while lying down on her bed. She would look at the moon and try to meditate for about five minutes. Then she would fall asleep. The following day she would say she had meditated all night while gazing at the moon. She was fast asleep the whole time, but she was under the impression that she had been meditating. When you develop spiritual power you will be able to meditate while lying down. You will even be able to sleep and meditate at the same time. But this is not for beginners. True spiritual Masters allow the body to sleep and separate the soul from it. Their body is sleeping, but their consciousness is absolutely alert. While the body is resting they may be doing many things in the inner world.

It is not necessary for anyone to sleep for more than eight hours. I know this definitely. Why do something unnecessary? It is useless. In this world everybody should be wise enough not to do anything useless. If you are sick, then you can sleep ten or twelve hours a day if necessary, but otherwise no more than eight hours. If you sleep more than that, you are just wasting your precious time, which you could be spending in some spiritual pursuit or in doing something that is necessary. If you sleep more than you need to, you are just offering part of your life to death in advance.