In the May issue of The Inner World, we talked about the right ahar, as one of three basic supports for attainment of complete health. The second pillar of life and good health is sleep.
RESTING THE BODY
Sleep is the state of complete rest. When we talk about sleep in relation to health, we refer to that state in which all the organs of the body including mind, which becomes tired by work, are in a completely relaxed state. Charak Samhita says only when one has dissociated from the objects of senses and motor organs can one get into the state of sleep. And this is the most natural means of rest. Charak has even compared the state of sleep to pleasure, peace, and happiness when he says, “Nidrayatam Sukham”, in other words, only when body and mind are disease-free and at peace, can one experience pleasure.
TONIC FOR MIND & BODY
Sleep is very essential for brain and is even considered a tonic for the brain. Sleep and rest play a major role in the development of a child. Healthy infants sleep peacefully for long hours and their development happens at rapid pace. Sleep also provides natural immunity to the one suffering from any disease. That is why rest is recommended to the ailing. In fact, during the European war, it was observed that sleep increases muscular tissues of the body and as a result is effective in healing wounds.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SLEEP WELL
Nature is balance and the division between day and night provides the right environment for the being to tune in with this balance. Days are meant for work and night for sleep or rest. According to Ayurved, sleep relates to tamas, as does night. Therefore restoration of one’s energy is done at night.
Natural night sleep (Ratri Swabhav) is also called Bhoot Dhatri, that is, sleep which protects the health of an individual. It slows down the heartbeat and as a result blood pressure reduces to some extent. Breathing is slow and so the metabolic activity of the body is reduced. Consequently, body achieves a state of relaxation and is in harmony with nature.
Waking up at night has the effect of reducing production of the hormone melatonin and after a while the body starts behaving abnormally and ages fast.
HOW MUCH TO SLEEP
Sleep in adequate amount nourishes the body. What is adequate for one may not be for the other. The amount of sleep required by an individual depends on the mental and physical labour he or she is doing. Generally eight hours of sleep is sufficient for people who do average physical and mental work. For brain workers or older people six hours is enough. Growing children and people who do more physical labour need more sleep.
TIPS TO GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Disturbed sleep is indicative of sickness. Today sleeplessness or insomnia is common not only among adults, but among teenagers and children too. Causes can be plenty – stress, unhealthy eating habits, poor lifestyle choices, excessive use of cell phones, computers etc. It may start with just one late night and then another and before you know it you start finding it difficult to sleep. Here are some tips to get a good night’s sleep, naturally.
Ayurveda prescribes Satapushpi (dill or sowa) to induce sleep. One teaspoon mixture containing equal quantities of dill, pudina and saunf steeped in ½ cup boiling water can be taken with honey at bedtime to relax an exhausted body and induce sleep. If the cause of insomnia is nervous disorder, use a mixture of chamomile, aniseed and dill in boiling water and honey. Massaging the soles of feet also induces sleep.
To ensure natural sleep, make your routine simple and regular, including time for sleep, waking up, bathing, working, etc.
Take meals 11/2 -2 hours before going to bed. Avoid television/computer/mobile usage before bedtime. Mind should be kept free and unoccupied. Some amount of mental work is important for good sleep. Complete relaxation of every part of the body is the most effective way to induce sleep. Sanatan Kriya details Ujjai Pranayama and Yog Nidra, which not only relax the body but also rejuvenate each and every cell, paving your way to good sleep and great health.
Seven Kinds of Sleep from Ayurveda,
- Tamasik sleep: Excessive sleep due to lethargy
- Sleshma samudbhawa: Due to aggravated kapha
- Manas shramjanya: Due to tired mind
- Shareer sharmjanya: Due to tired mind (hard labour)
- Aagantuki sleep: Indicative of disease
- Vyaadhyanuvartini: Sleep because of weakness due to disease
- Ratri Swabhav: Natural night sleep, also called Bhoot Dhatri i.e. that sleep which protects the health of the individual