Chanakya Thoughts: What leads to success? A good sleep

If a leader does not sleep well, he will not be able to take the right decisions. Chanakya not only mentions good sleep in the Arthashastra, but also how to awaken from sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important requirements for all of us. When we have slept well, we feel fresh and refreshed. Doctors also say, “Sleep is the best medicine.” It relaxes our body and mind and nerves. Without proper sleep, one feels irritated, tired and less energetic. There is no enthusiasm or will to do anything.

There are many people who want to sleep, but despite their best efforts, sleep evades them. And, this leads to popping of sleeping pills. But, then this becomes a habit and we get dependent on the pills.
Today, in the medical field there is a branch of study called ‘Sleep science’. Scientists, academicians, researchers, medical practitioners, psychologists and experts from various fields are studying sleep and its various patterns. Only if you sleep well, will you be truly happy.

So does, Chanakya have a solution for getting a good night’s sleep?

Interestingly, yes. Remember, Chanakya was a kingmaker and is guiding the leaders. If a leader does not sleep well, he will not be able to take the right decisions. Chanakya not only mentions good sleep in the Arthashastra, but also how to awaken from sleep.

He said, “The king should awaken to the sound of musical instruments.”


In the chapter titled Rules for a king, Chanakya details the daily routine of a leader: What time to sleep, what time to wake up, and how to get quality sleep as well.

As the above sutra advises, one should wake up listening to musical instruments. Let us understand the logic and the science behind it.

Waking up

If you have slept well, you will wake up fresh and will be ready to get out of bed immediately. If not, you will continue lying on the bed for a long time. So, how to wake up?

Start with an attitude of gratitude. Say a prayer and immediately get up from the bed. There is a difference between ‘getting up’ and ‘waking up’. You are awake, but do not get up.

How to inspire ourselves to get up? Listening to music is a tip given by Chanakya here. Without proper direction, your mind can go back to feeling lethargic, and will fall back to sleep again. So, give it a direction. Music will relax you and at the same time, make you alert. For those suffering from sleep disorders, music therapy is often advised. With good music, we can wake up with an alert mind.

So, the next time you wake up to the alarm on your mobile phone, put on some good music and start your day.

Sleeping time

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise — goes the common adage. But one of the biggest problems we face is going to bed on time.

If you sleep at a specific time, your mind will get trained to wake up at a specific time. But unfortunately, nowadays we do not have a particular sleep pattern. And with technology making different forms of entertainment available for us 24×7, we do not have control of our sleeping time.

Social media, videos, web series — one can name it and we have all this and more available at our fingertips. All of them are so well-crafted, our mind gets attracted and addicted to them. We are simply unable to let them go. And suddenly we realise we have spent so much time with our device that we have easily lost a couple hours of sleep.

So make it a habit to sleep on time. Initially, it may take some efforts. But be positive, and with practice, you will go to sleep on time.

Quality vs quantity

A commonly asked question is: How many hours of sleep does a person require? And the answer is: Around seven to eight hours of undisturbed sleep.

However, here, we are only measuring sleep by quantity. But, the quality of sleep also matters. It is not just the duration of sleeptime, but also the depth of sleep that is important.

So, if you are undisturbed and calm during the day, the quality of sleep will be better. Even if you sleep for five or six hours, you will feel fresh. A sick person may require more hours of sleep to recover from an illness. Babies grow as they sleep. Elders require good sleep as well.

As Dr APJ Abdul Kalam once said, “A dream is not that which you have while sleeping. It is something that does not allow you to sleep.”

You should not just have a reason to sleep, but a bigger reason to wake up. So, get up after a good night’s rest and achieve your dreams.

(The writer is Founder-Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a bestselling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his Twitter @rchanakyapillai)

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