Sleep And Spirituality
Sleep is the nature’s tonic for a man to lead a healthy life. More sound the sleep will be, healthier he would be.
What Happens During Deep Sleep
A man works hard in the daytime to earn his living and gets what he deserves. In Yogic terminology, we can say that he is tossed about hither and thither by the two currents RAGA – DVESHA. So he gets tired. His nerves, his brain his body needs rest. Nature has made arrangements for it. She takes him to sleep. She takes him to her bosom at night to soothe his tired nerves and brain, to supply him back with the fresh energy, vigor, and health, so in the next morning, he is again ready to continue his activities. Sleep is a physiological phenomenon for his health care during which both the physical body and the mental body gets the rest. There is a temporary absorption of the mind into its cause – the Avidya.
The Rishis, Sages, and Vedantins have made a vast study into the sleep. This study has made them reach a conclusion about the state of deep sleep. It is the all-blissful Atma, which is the silent witness of that state, the state of deep sleep. They say that the mind assumes a seed like state, when in the state of deep sleep. The Samskaras, which are the impressions that men have accumulated over a period of time, during different births, becomes latent. The Vasana become latent. All Vrittis do subside. The mind that was working throughout the day, when he was awake, moves through the Sushumna Nadi into the heart, and then rest on Atma.
Vedanta further says that the seed body, which is the Karan Shareera, or the Anandmaya Kosha (blissful sheath) is active during the sleep. The Jeeva is very near to the Atma, the all-blissful soul. What separates them both is a thin veil of ignorance.
How much should one sleep?
How much should one sleep? The hours of sleep necessary depend on one’s physical and mental capacity for resisting fatigue. It also varies with age, temperament, and amount of work done. There is an old adage: “There should be six hours of sleep for a man, seven hours of sleep for a woman and eight hours for a fool”. It is also a fact that as the age advances, people require lesser sleep. A child generally requires 10 hours of sleep whereas an old man above the age of 60 may require just 5 hours of sleep. People working very hard may require 8 hours of sleep. For an average individual, sleep for six hours may be quite sufficient.
An old saying goes as: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. Perfect sleep will be when one goes to bed at 10 pm and get up at 4 am. Too much sleep makes a man lethargic, dull, lazy and premature decay and weakens the brain power. There is no use if one keep on rolling in the bed for hours. The most important requirement for a healthy man is to have a quality and sound sleep. A sound dreamless sleep for even a couple of hours will make him totally refresh and energetic.
How To Get Deep Sleep Naturally
There should be a good cross-ventilation available in a bedroom. All the windows should be kept well opened. More the oxygen one inhales during sleep, more refreshed he will be throughout the following day. Never take the sleeping pills to come out of sleep problems or sleep disorders. Take a brisk walk in open air for 15 minutes, practice five rounds of Anulom-Vilom pranayama (Nadi-Shodhan Pranayama), practice 7 to 10 rounds of Bhramari Pranayama, sing bhajans praising the God with full devotion and then go to bed. Some prayers or sublime slokas of Bhagavad Gita or even Upanishads can be repeated before going to sleep. Mantra Japa can be done or even meditation can be done. A sound, natural and refreshing sleep is ensured by this.
Always take a light dinner. Do not eat too late. Digestion takes place during sleep. Sleep on the sides. For the digestion sleep on the left side. This will allow the right nostril, which is also called Surya Nadi, to be active, which in turn will help to stimulate the digestive system helping in easy digestion of food. Complete fasting helps control the sleep. The time of sleep should always be fixed. Loose clothes should be worn.
Importance Of Vigil
Keeping awake throughout the night is called vigil. The practice of vigil on Maha Shivratri, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtmi can be great for a devotee or a Yoga practitioner as he derives a lot of benefits as far as his sadhana is concerned. The vigil can be practiced on every Ekadashi also.
How Much Sleep An Spiritual Aspirant Need?
Those spiritual aspirants who want to practice rigorous sadhana should have a control over their sleep and reduce their period of sleep gradually and step by step. Instead of 10 pm, go to the bed at 10.30 pm and get up at 4 am and continue this for three months. Reduce further the period of sleep by half an hour and go to sleep at 11 pm. In this manner keep on reducing the time of sleep until a period of 4 hours of sleep is reached. Such aspirants can get real rest from the practice of meditation. A spiritual aspirant should not sleep during daytime.
If someone does not get a good sleep in the night and suffers from insomnia, there are chances that he might be aging faster. He feels lethargic, lesser energy levels and not exactly feel at the top of the world. His thinking is confused and muddled. So practice Yoga and have a sound sleep, a must for a Yoga practitioner.