Aahar, Nidra and Brahmacharya roughly translated as food, sleep and appropriate sexual conduct are considered as the three sub pillars of health according to Ayurved. Unfortunately, in today’s era these factors are given no importance and we continue to exploit our bodies to the level wherein the damage becomes irreversible. Sleep disorders are very common today and are no more confined to the geriatric group.
Sleep or nidra is defined as the state of mind in which its (extrovert) tendency to experience the gross material world, disappears. It is rightly said that Strength and misery, nourishment and emaciation, strength and debility, virility and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death are all dependent respectively upon normalcy and abnormality of sleep according to Ayurved. Sleeping at improper time, in excess or not at all, destroys one’s happiness and life. It is said that when TAMO guna(one of the three mano-guna) increases at night it causes sleep, whereas a state of consciousness is an influence of SATVA guna.
Not being able to sleep once in a while can be ignored but lack of good sleep in itself is a symptom to many disorders related to our physical and emotional well-being, ranging from mere stress to various complicated syndromes. Sleep disorders are conditions in which a person’s sleep pattern is disturbed, such that a person has a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeps too much, or sleeps at inappropriate times.
Have a look at these guidelines incorporating certain diet and lifestyle changes which will help you in regaining that sound sleep which you enjoyed as a baby once upon a time!
- Listen to the body- ideally one should sleep roughly 2 hours after dinner, provided dinner is early, i.e. around 7.30-8.00pm. One should be in the bed by 10-10.30pm as the body also puts itself into “sleep mode” by this time. If ignored, the biological clock gets highly deranged leading to sleep issues eventually.
- Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Create a quiet, dark atmosphere. Use clean, fresh sheets and pillow and keep the room temperature comfortable, neither too warm nor too cold.
- Sleeping with clean clothes, in clean and calm environment, on even surface preferably with a cotton mattress is ideal. The bedding should neither be too hard nor too soft. The room should be well ventilated and devoid of any insects.
- Sleeping during the day is said to be a reason for many diseases. Avoid sleeping during the day(except in conditions like when one is sick, too tired, intoxicated, injured or under alcoholic influence, in summer season)
- It is ideal to sleep in left lateral position as it facilitates all natural processes, seldom in right lateral and never on the chest as it leads to obstructed breathing.
- Follow proper guidelines of food with respect to your constitution, quality, quantity and timings.(Ideally gap of two hours between dinner and sleeping.)Include sweet, unctuous, warm items in the diet. Buffalo milk is an excellent soother and sleep inducer. Try having a glassful of buffalo milk with a pinch of nutmeg powder at bedtime.
- Mild exercise every day and stay active—but not late in the evening.
- Avoid caffeine in all forms, especially after dinner time.
- Don’t choose alcohol as a remedy to sleeplessness. Even though alcohol is a sedative, it can disturb the sleep. (Sleep is not sedation)
- Take a nice, long, warm bath before bed-time in case of exertion.
- Read a spiritual book or do some repetitive, calm activity such as chanting a mantra before going to bed.
- Avoid distractions that may hold your attention and keep you awake, such as watching a suspense movie or a thrilling game.
- Abhyanga-(massaging with warm oils) regularly. This helps in calming down the body, basically the VATA dosha.
- Use a relaxing aroma at bedtime.
- Applying pure or medicated ghee to the feet and massaging before sleep helps in inducing sleep. PADABHYANGA or foot massage especially by a loved one acts as a good relaxing agent and also leads to emotional catharsis.
- If your head feels hot in the night, mix three tablespoonful of coconut oil with lavender oil or almond oil and massage it on your forehead.
- Check your medications for any drug which is contributing to your insomnia.
- Condition specific classical AYURVEDIYAdrugs are available for sleep disorders. (Only to be taken after consultation).
- Various external treatments like padabhyanga, Shirodhara, shirobasti, nasya, takradharas,netratarpan, hydrotherapy techniques can be designed after consulting the specialists.
- Yoga-pranayama& meditative techniques should be practiced regularly.These are to be learnt from experts and practiced under guidance. These days we find lot many distractions like television, mobile and internet which keeps our mind and body occupied making it difficult to fall asleep. Breathing practices like pranayam help in increasing will power and focus, thus increasing our self control to resist such temptations.
In any case, there are multiple ways one can approach the problems associated with sleep before resorting to habit forming pills. So also, herbal home remedies that have worked for some may not work for others and on the contrary may be hazardous. Do not fall prey to any OTC product without a doctor’s advice or consent. It is always better first to change our diet and lifestyle a bit and put our body in sync with the nature.
Ayurved has been saying, “Early to bed, Early to rise” for thousands of years, and the advice will forever remain applicable. Before the technology boom, this was probably an easier proverb to follow. Now we have every excuse to stay up late—the dark is no obstacle and very few people happily welcome dawn as they are in beds still snoring. Simply put, if the sun has gone to bed, we should soon follow suit, when the sun arises, we should.
TRAYA NATURAL HEALTH CENTRE