Usually when most people go to sleep, they simply ‘let it happen’. This carries with it all of the mental, emotional, vital-nervous, and physical energy pent up in the being at the time, into the sleep state. Add to this mix the state of fatigue that prevails, and it can lead to restless, or dull sleep, chaotic dreams and confused awareness at the times of light sleep or waking. Watching television or surfing the internet, or studying until late simply exacerbates the mental and nervous disruptions, and thus, it is generally understood and recommended to ease into the time for sleep by avoiding intense study, or any kind of electronic devices, as well as intense emotional or physical pressure for some time, giving the being time to relax and gently guide the sleep to be a restful state.
The Mother goes even further by reminding us that there are two aspects of sleep, the external being’s need for rest and regeneration, and the inner being’s activities that allow the psychic entity to learn, grow and gain in strength. To the extent that the outer being is at rest, the inner work can go on more powerfully and with fewer disruptions.
The Mother notes: “… certainly if you want to sleep quietly at night, you must not study till just before sleeping. If you read something which requires concentration, your head will continue to work and so you won’t sleep well. When the mind continues working one doesn’t rest.”
“The ideal, you see, is to enter an integral repose, that is, immobility in the body, perfect peace in the vital, absolute silence in the mind — and the consciousness goes out of all activity to enter into Sachchidananda. If you can do this, then when you wake up you get up with the feeling of an extraordinary power, a perfect joy. But it is not very, very easy to do this. It can be done; this is the ideal condition. … Usually it is not at all like this, and most of the time almost all the hours of sleep are wasted in some kind of disordered activities; your body begins to toss about in your bed, you give kicks, you turn, you start, you turn this way and that, and then you do this (gesture) and then this … So you don’t rest at all.”
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, Sleep, pp. 11-17