Sleep is the physiological state when the body, senses and soul go to deep rest.If we sleep 8 hours per day, a person spends 1/3rd of his life in sleep. A sound sleep at night is very vital for good health and wellbeing.
Sleep is a routinely occurring period of inactivity where the body recovers from the physical and mental strain that it goes through during the day. It is one of the basic needs of a healthy body.
In Ayurveda, Sleep is considered one of the three upastambha (Sub-pillar of life) and is of utmost importance for healthy living. Sleep has been explained in various Samhitas of Ayurveda including Charak Samhita.
Types of sleep in Ayurveda ;
The following are the different varieties of sleep;
- Tamobhavaa (Sleep due to sense inertness in mind)
- ShleShma Samudbhavaa (Sleep due to increase of Kapha)
- Mana Shareera Shrama Sambhavaa (Sleep due to tiredness of mind and body)
- Aagantukee (Exogenous like Sleeping tab, poisonous inhalation)
- Vyaadhyanuvartimee (Sleep due to diseases)
- Ratri Svabhaava Prabhaava (Natural Nocturnal Sleep)
When and how to sleep?
- Sayamkaala – Some hours after sunset (9-10 pm)
- After having a light and healthy meal
- With a calm mind
- After cleaning the body as well
- Remembering god or remembering what you learned.
How/Why does sleep occur?
“yada tu manasiklante karmaatmaana klamanvitaah
vishayebhyo nivartante tadaa svapiti maanavah”
(Charak Samhita Sutrasthana Chapter 21)
When the mind gets tired and the senses as well, they move away from the worldly affairs. This causes sleep.
The Tamo guna (sense of inertness) formed during the time of origin in the main cause of sleep.
Duration of sleep:
Night time is dark, cool and calm which is the best time for good sleep. During the day, bright light and temperature have stimulating effects and keep a person awake and alert. Noise and surroundings also contribute in this respect.
It is easy to go to sleep during the night because of the cool, calm and quiet environment.
Normally a newborn baby sleeps continuously for 3 hours. Then wakes up , takes food, plays, passes urine and stool and after about half an hour goes to sleep again.
Duration of sleep, according to age is as follows
Birth -1 month – 18-20 hours
1 – 6 months – 15-18 hours
6 months- 1 yr- 14-16 hours
1-2 yrs – 12-14 hours
2-5 yrs – 10-12 hours
5-16 yrs – 9-10 hours
Adults – 8 hours
Old person – 4-6 hours
6 Benefits of proper sleep
” Saiva yuktaa punaryukte nidraa deham sukhaayushah ”
(Charak Samhita Sutrasthana Chapter 21)
When sleep is consumed in the proper amount one attains health, wisdom, longevity and knowledge.
1. Improved health: Sleep helps to keep bodily functions in check. It checks Blood Pressure and reduces inflammation.
2. Calm mind: Sleep and serotonin relation helps in reducing stress and thus reduces depression, improves memory and has a calming effect to the mental outlook overall of a person.
3. Strength: As proper sleep helps maintain digestion, absorption and consumption aspects of metabolism, the result can be improved physical and mental strength.
4. Good color and Texture: Rest to the voluntary movements during sleep results in proper nourishment of bodily tissues which results in Good skin tone and texture.
5. Maintains body weight: As less amount of sleep has been directly associated with obesity, proper amount of sleep can help one lose weight. Lean people can also gain weight through proper sleep.
6. Longevity: As bodily functions run smoothly and one prevents physical and mental stress accumulating over a long period of time , It will improve the overall health of a person and thus improves longevity.
Methods to Achieving Better sleep:
The following practices can help you achieve better sleep.
1. Oil massage : It nourishes skin and reduces stress and physical strain in muscles thus promoting better sleep. of sole, hands and calf muscles : Self-massage takes tension and strain away from the body. The feeling of self-love can lighten the mood and mindset thus induce good sleep.
2. Herbal paste massage : They have the same effect as oil massage . A stress-less mind eases the physical body into a healthy sleep.
3.Warm Bath : Bath has a detoxifying effect to the body and calming effect to mind thus promotes sleep.
4. Soup of vegetables, the meat of birds and animals of marshy places : Proper nourishment and consumption of Kapha dominant food induces good sleep.
5. Curd, milk and ghee intake : The heaviness and nourishing properties of these products can help one have proper sleep. Adding Turmeric and black pepper to warm milk (Golden Milk) and drinking it before going to bed can also have a sleep promoting effect.
6. Diet – Sweet and fatty diet chiefly consisting of milk and meat especially of chicken, crabs, buffalo milk rice with curds, grapes, sugar cane juice, sleep in a nice room in a soft comfortable bed, presence of fragrance and music, alcoholic drinks and sexual intercouruse.
7. Cold sponging of eyes: Cold sponging of eyes can have a stress releasing effect as eyes are the primary senses and are on strain all the time.
8. Intake of sleep inducing Ayurvedic herbs :Consuming Ayurvedic plants like Brahmi, Sankhapushpi, Vacha, Sarpagandha, Ashwagandha and Jatamansi can have good sleep inducing and Stress-releasing effect.
9.Panchakarma : Detoxification of the body through panchakarma can have many benefits. One among them is better sleep. But It should be done under proper guidance of ayurvedic practitioner.
10.Shirodhara : This ayurvedic procedure can also help in reducing mental stress and anxiety thus improves concentration, reduces depression and tension. It has many other beneficial effects on the brain and its functioning as well.
In this way, Sleep is a natural rejuvenating tonic for healthy living. So, treatments of sleep disorders are really important. Ayurvedic detox procedures such as panchakarma and shirodhara and lifestyle management under guidance of an Ayurvedic doctor can be really beneficial for sound sleep and in general overall wellbeing.
For a more individualistic approach to maintaining and practicing sound sleep through lifestyle management and treatment procedures, do visit the nearest Ayurveda clinics or consult an ayurvedic doctor.