Man works hard ion daytime so that he may get what he deserves most. He is tossed about hither and thither by the two currents Raga-Dwesha. So he gets tired. Nature takes him to her bosom at night to soothe his tired nerves and brain, to refresh him, and to supply him with fresh energy and vigour so that he may continue his activities the next day. She makes him go to sleep. Sleep is a physiological phenomenon by which the mind, the brain and all the organs get rest for some hours. During sleep the mind goes back to its source. There is manolaya or temporary absorption of the mind into its cause – the Avidya.
Vedantins make a deep study of sleep and draw conclusions about the all-nlissful Atma, the silent witness of the state of deep sleep. The mind assumes a seed-like state in deep sleep. The samskaras and vasans become latent. All vritties subside. The mind that was working in the brain during the waking state moves through Sashumna Nadi into the heart and it rests on Atma. The Chaitanya or interlligence that is associated with the deep sleep state is Prajna. Karana Sarira or seed body or Anandamaya Korsha or blissful sheath operates during sleep. The jiva is very near to Atma. A thin veil of ignorance separates him from Atma, just as the thin veil separates the husband from his wife. The husband rejoices as soon as his wife removes the veil. Even so the individual soul rejoices as soon as the veil of ignorance is removed and when he comes face to face with Brahman. Mind, Prana, Indriyas and the body derive their power from the one silent witness of all minds. It is the soul that really movers the indriyas, mind and body and prakriti works. So Atma is Sarva Karta (all- doer) and also Akarta (non-doer), Sarva Bhokta (all-enjoyer) and also Abhokta (non-enjoyer).
Sleep is nature’s tonic for a healthy life. The more sound sleep one has, the more healthy he would be. The hours of sleep necessary depend on your physical and mental capacity for resisting fatigue. Without a sufficiency of sleep, you will have no efficiency. The amount of sleep required varies with age, temperament and amount of work done. According to an old adage : “There should be six hours of sleep for a main, seven for a woman and eight for a fool”/ As age advances people require less sleep. Ten hours’ sleep is necessary for a child. In old men above 60 years, six hours of sleep may be sufficient. Adults who work hard may sleep for eight hours. Medical men and psychologists are paying great attention these days to the question of sleep.
Sleep for six hours is quite sufficient for every individual. Go to bed tat 10’O clock and get up at 4 a.m. An old adage says : “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’. Napoleon Bonaparte believed in only four hours sleep. Too much sleep makes a man dull and lethargic. What is required is quality of sleep. Even if you have a sound dreamless sleep for 1 or 2 hours, you will be perfectly refreshed. There is no benefit to be derived from rolling in the bed for hours together. Too much sleep causes premature decay and weakens brain power.
Avoid going late to bed. When you sleep keep all the windows and doors of your bed-room well open. The more oxygen you inhale during your sleep, the more refreshed you will feel throughout the next day. Do not take drugs to get sleep. If you cannot sleep naturally take a brisk walk in the open air for fifteen minutes and they go the bed. You are sure to have refreshing sleep.
Digestion takes place at night. Consequently you should take a light meal at night. Strong coffee or tea should not be taken at night. Sleep on the sides, especially on the right side. This helps to empty the stomach and allow the Surya Nadi or Pingala to flow. Food will be digested easily if the Solar Nadi flows at night. Keep the same time daily for sleep. Wear loose clothing. Do not cover yourself with heavy blankets or clothings.
Relax the body and mind when you go to sleep. Repeat some prayer or sublime slokas of Gita or Upanishads before you go to bed. Roll the beads for ten minutes and miditate on the form of the Lord and Divine attributes. Do not build castles in the air. Give up scheming and planning now. If you have ill-felling against any one, forget it. Have pleasant thoughts only.
Keeping wide awake throughout night is called vigil. You will derive incalculable benefits if you practise vigil on Vaikunta Ekadahi, Sivaratri and Gokulashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. You can practise vigil on every Ekadashi also. Complete fasting helps in the control of sleep. Control of sleep by taking recourse to tea is not desirable. You will not gain spiritual strength thus as you have to depend upon an extraneous drug.
Half of your lifetime is wasted in sleep. Those spiritual aspirants who want to do rigorous sadhana should reduce their period of sleep gradually. They can get real rest from meditation. For three months reduce the sleeping period by half an hour. Go to bed at 10-30 and get up at 4 am. During the next three months go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up at 4 a.m. Four hours’ sleep will amply suffice. You should not sleep in the daytime. In course of time you should not become Gudakesa (Conqueror of sleep), like Arjun and Lakshman, and rest in that all –blissful, sleepless sleep, the Nirvikalpa Samadhi of Yogins.