New Delhi: Ayurveda describes sleep as a basic instinct of life, essential to all living beings. Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (proper physique) and non-nourishment, strength and debility, vigour and vitality, knowledge and ignorance, life span and death – all are dependant on sleep.
Ayurveda considers Nidra (sleep) as one of the three pillars of health, alongside Ahara (food) and Brahmacharya (code of conduct for energy management). Sleep is essential to ensure good health and well-being. It provides the basic strong resistance to combat minor diseases and imbalances on a long-term basis.
An important function of sleep is the enhancement of Ojas (vital energy) the master coordinator between mind, body and soul. Ojus being the fine product of digestion and a life-supporting element, helps to insulate the mind from daily stress and exertion. The quality and quantity of sleep, therefore, need to be balanced, so as to enable effective functioning and it is necessary to disconnect the mind from the senses. Although people have acknowledged the importance of good diet and exercise, they tend to ignore the importance of sleep, which in turn can have drastic consequences on one’s health.
For this, the elements of sleep that play a major role in getting perfect sleep need to be understood and practised. The right breathing pattern, snoring, the right posture, setting up a daily evening routine and creating a conducive physical environment are some of the key elements.
An ideal position and posture are crucial to getting good sleep. According to Ayurveda sleeping on your left side is very beneficial as it improves circulation and promotes digestion and cardiac functions.
Ayurveda also recommends sleeping on the left side, as it is believed to help one breathe properly while supporting body functions well. For quality sleep, getting the right breathing pattern is essential. Ayurveda says that sleeping immediately after a long and hectic day can lead to snoring. Regular snoring meanwhile indicates that you are not getting enough oxygen for the repair of the wear and tear of bodily tissues. To counter this, Ayurveda promotes Abhyanga (oil massage), Padabhyanga (feet massage) and Nasya karma (drops of medicated oil in the nostrils) as a solution for such issues.
Sleeping in a well-ventilated place (not directly beneath the fan or air condition ducts) on a comfortable bed and with a suitable pillow, facing in a particular direction (excluding the north) is believed to promote good sleep and improve sleep quality.
A good healthy routine has a direct impact on the quality of your sleep. Following it ensures a relaxed mind. Light exercise, light food, early dinners, listening to soothing music and following the rules of digital detox etc. – such habits can make for a good evening routine.
Creating a conducive environment for sleep is necessary to calm the mind and body. To do this, put away your gadgets to avoid the radiations which are in reality harmful to the nervous system. Ensure your surroundings are cool and clean and fresh to make it relaxing. To bring your body back into balance, try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day and aim to eat your meals too at approximately the same time every day.
At the end of the day before going to sleep, practice gratitude by gently taking stock of all the good things in your life and all the moments you were grateful for in the day. Thus Nidra (Sleep) is to be done and practised perfectly, like a ritual – for relaxing the body and quietening the mind to rest. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to promote overall well-being and is to be considered and valued as one of life’s ultimate and precious riches.
(Dr. Subhash S. Markande, Consulting Ayurveda Physician, CGH Earth Wellness)