Sleep is one of the most necessary daily activities for sound health and sound mind. Good sleep may recover the exhausted body and mind very quickly.
In Ayurvedic literature, sleep is one of the four basic, natural instincts, and is considered as the pioneer for health; the remaining three being the desire to eat, drink and have sexual contact. When the mind along with the soul gets exhausted, or becomes stationary, and the sensory and motor organs also become inactive, the individual sleeps.
When do we sleep ?
Sleep occurs when the seat of chetana (consciousness) is covered by tamo guna (one among the three main qualities of mind which is responsible for ignorance) which predominates along with kapha. Sleep is another form of tamas (mental dark-ness). Sleep manifests when tamas naturally predominates at night and the mind and intellect are in deep rest.
Sleep occurs when bodily channels become accumulated with kapha and when the mind is devoid of contact with the sense organs because of fatigue.
What is the ideal time to sleep?
Generally, for a healthy person, sleep occurs at night around the same time and lasts for a particular duration everyday. Ayurveda regards this sleep as ratrisvabhava prabhava (naturally occurring at night). It is further advised to avoid sleep during the first and last parts of the night, and wake up before the sun rises.
The ideal time for sleeping as mentioned in Kaiyadeva Nighantu and in Chikitsarnava is after the first two yama (approx 6 hours) of sunset.
It is also advised that just before sleeping one should remember and pay respect to the god, sages and their teachers.
Top 10 Guidelines for Sound Sleep
Ayurvedic texts have provided guidelines to enhance good sleeping:
1. Avoid sleeping on a bed that is not properly covered with sheets and pillows, or is uneven or uncomfortably small.
2. Avoid sleeping in the prone position.
3. The bedroom should be calm and clean, with clean bed linens. Comfortable bedding encourages quality sleep; it provides good rest and happiness.
4. The bed should stand at knee joint level, and the mattress should be soft and pleasant.
5. At the beginning and end of night, i.e. while going to sleep and waking up, one should only think about virtuous acts and avoid all negative thoughts.
6. Lying down in an easy posture on a comfortable bed removes the sense of fatigue, pacifies or soothes vata dosha, brings sleep and dhriti (lost recollection to the mind), and is aphrodisiac and conducive to the growth of the body; conversely, lying down in a contrary manner is attended with contrary results.
7. In hot climates, sleeping with a cool breeze is refreshing, keeps flies and mosquitoes away, arrests perspiration, removes the sense of fatigue, fainting and fits, and alleviates any burning, scorched or parched sensation.
8. Samvahana (mild massage) is pleasant, soporific and aphrodisiac. It destroys the bodily vata and kapha doshas, removes the sense of fatigue and soothes the blood, skin and muscles.
9. Sleeping on a cot mitigates all three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), on a swing mitigates vata and kapha, on the ground makes the body stout and acts as an aphrodisiac, while on wooden planks increases vata dosha. In general sleeping on the ground is not preferred, and some authors opine that it causes great increase of vata and dryness, but mitigates aggravation of pitta and asra (blood).
10. One should not stay awake at night and sleep during the day. Performing both of these is injurious for health. One should observe moderation in sleep.
Direction and Position of Sleep
While sleeping, one should position the head towards the east or south, but never towards the North. When traveling, also avoid positioning the head towards the west or north. Never position the legs towards teachers or any other respected person. Anandakanda described the effect of sleeping in different directions, shown in Table below . The body is considered a magnet with the head, the heaviest and most important part, as the North Pole, and the feet as the South Pole. Sleeping with the head directed to the north is believed to cause a repulsive force with Earth’s magnetic north and thus is considered harmful.
Modern day life style is affecting the natural sleep mostly. By maintaining the following tips and guidelines one can cure the insomnia even the habit of sleeping pills may be withdrawn. For getting more healthy tips from the lap of mother nature contact with us and stay connected with us: www.himaayush.com
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