Ayurveda rules of healthy living related to Sleep
Sleep is necessary for our physical survival just like air, water and food. Sleep at the right time and for the right duration helps in maintaining the right proportion of body humours, recharging the body tissues, restoring physical and mental zest and energy levels. It also enhances the digestive power by giving an opportunity to the various digestive organs to relax for some time. In fact sleep has many benefits but then there are harmful effects if we go against the laws of nature in the matter of sleep. Below are given important rules to be followed in the matter of sleep.
- The best time to sleep is the night time. It is the ideal routine to retire to bed at around 9 to 9.30 pm at night and getting up at least one hour before sunrise next day.
- Sleeping during daytime is against the laws of nature. Daytime sleep, in general, increases the level of `Kapha’ (phlegm) in the human body. Disturbance of this humour beyond a limit also vitiates the other two body humours and sets in a disease process. Persons who sleep during the day become predisposed to catarrh, cough, influenza and colds, headache, bodyache, fever and weakness of digestion. However because of professional or other reasons, if certain persons have to sleep during day and keep awake at night and have made a habit of this routine then their body becomes attuned to this routine and serious malfunctioning of body processes may not occur.Persons habituated to sleeping during daytime can sleep during day but for others diurnal sleep is harmful except during intensely hot summer days.
- Certain other categories of persons can sleep during daytime in seasons other than summer. These are– persons fatigued through exercise, hard work or coitus, persons suffering from diarrhoea, colic, asthma, dyspepsia, debility, alcoholic state and any acute disease, old persons, night workers and persons indulging in fasting.Teenagers should sleep for about nine hours and adults for about eight hours. The modern Allopathic school of medicine advises that a person should sleep as much as he naturally feels like. This not in consonance with the laws of nature. Closely observed, one can have sound sleep for that much duration which has been suggested in Ayurveda. A person who needs eight hours’ sleep may tend to oversleep for one or two hours after sunrise. But generally, those two hours are spent in something of a `half-sleep’ in which the person largely dreams. Such sleep is for sure, harmful.
- It is not advisable to have a full meal immediately before going to sleep. Such habit spoils the sleep and induces dreams during sleep.
- Clean and free air are required for good sleep. It is bad for health to sleep in poorly ventilated or closed rooms. An arrangement for cross ventilation is essential for proper air flow in the sleeping room.
- During summer months, some people prefer to sleep outdoors. However in the later part of the night when due drops fall down, one should protect himself from dew drops by covering the body and especially face with a bedsheet. Falling dew on sleeping persons is inducive of feverish conditions.
- Avoid sleeping at a place where strong wind or breeze is blowing. Sleeping at such a place predisposes a person to epidemic infections.
- It is always better for health to sleep on the cot or raised, cushioned bed rather than on the ground. Coir bed is better than spring bed.
- Head facing south or east is a healthy sleeping position.
- Do not lie flat while sleeping. This posture is not conducive to sound sleep. It induces lot of bad dreams. It is best to lie on the left side when sleeping. This posture aids digestion and helps in sound sleep.
- These are also detrimental to body health — sleeping in bright sunshine, sleeping in hunger, sleeping in an upside-down posture. Sleeping in a hungry state is debilitating while sleeping in an upside-down posture leads to colds and influenza.
Modern culture has bred lifestyles which include working upto late in the evening and late night dinner. The time to sleep is delayed accordingly. Going to bed at 12 p.m. and getting up next morning at 8 a.m. is a habit with many people. Even students of high school and college level are not spared of this habit of sleeping or any type of mental work late in the night is bad for health as it disturbs in dominant body humour, ‘Vata’ (wind) in the system.
Sleeping beyond sunrise in the morning disturbs the ‘Kapha’ (phlegm) humour in the body. Increase of phlegm and wind naturally would lead to cold, catarrh, frequent bouts of influenza, even asthma and bronchitis and also sinus trouble. Our Allopathic guardians of health advise us that it is some specific types of allergens that cause asthma, colds or bronchitis. The Allopathic system understandably, has no cure for these apparently trivial ailments. But the true cause is not ‘allergy’, as any intelligent and unbiased person can understand from the above statements. Increase of phlegm and wind (vata) are the real culprits. Today , clinics abound in patients suffering from the above types of diseases and many of these patients belong to the younger age groups. The first, sensible and logical advice to all such persons is – ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ Seventy five percent of their problems would vanish if only they could adopt this grandfather’s dictum.
There are many, many more illustrative examples that could be cited and one only has to wonder at the foolish habits of a large number of people who spend their valuable time, money and energy in the treatment of some common ailments which could be corrected significantly by a change in the basic lifestyle.