Take a break before it breaks !
More than 80 sleep disorders had been identified till date and still counting. But let’s for the sake of convenience divide it in basic two forms – lack of sleep and excessive sleep.
You need no physician to tell which one weighs higher on the scales in above two. Besides there is hardly anything new in this statement owing to our blunted approach towards such ‘minor’ things as good sleep. Be it negligence towards our bodies or our fast & furious lifestyle, all this root down to the more ‘outwardly’ nature we are getting adapted to.
Never stretch a thing to its breakage point. Take a break !
Good Sleeping Practices
Our body is one extraordinary, complex machine. Every component of it is therefore connected to everything like a giant, reticulated mesh. And hence everything relating to a body is multi axial, having more than one cause and effect. Many causes precede sleep disorders and many undesirable effects follows. There are many factors which can predispose the sleep problems in a healthy person and bypassing them will bring your sleep on tracks again. Sleep hygiene is a term used for the recommendations intended for good sleep, which was originally developed for the treatment of mild to moderate insomnia. Here are some of easy practices to follow so as to improve sleep quality. (Keep in mind that, these can only ‘improve’ the quality and if you are going through any clinical sleep disorder, you better consult a physician)
- Most important is to keep bed timings regular.
- Good exercise ( not too much as it can hamper the sleep )
- Keep your time of going to bed around 11 pm.
- Smoking and alcohol are injurious to your sleep!
- Avoiding (as you may already know) coffee, tea, soft drinks, nicotine etc.
- Don’t read the books causing too much indulgence.
- Don’t try too much to go to sleep, sleep is not about ‘trying’, it’s about ‘letting it go’.
- Too much exertion just before you go to bed can affect your sleep.
- And now for ‘Digital people’, strictly avoiding social media when you are on your bed, rather have a better loving, caring, joyous and comforting conversation with your partner.
Patho-physiology of sleep according to Ayurveda
As we have already stated, sleep is one of the tripods of life on which life stands. Ayurveda states factors for inducing sleep are – Kapha and Tama.
After a long day of work, when your body is exhausted, mind is fatigued and all of the senses are in a dire need of rest, at that very minute, all the things you perceive through your senses are restrained, silence spreads through mind, filling up the vacuum of thoughts and then you enter a state of ‘temporary unconsciousness’, trying to charge up the batteries you emptied throughout the day.
Every aspect of human health needs ‘balance’ of doshas, dhatus and malas and so does the sleep.
Any imbalancing condition will disturb the sleep cycle and so, excessive or lacking, a disturbed sleep can only go either of these 2 ways, owing to the nature of causes.
As previously stated, kapha is a inducing factor for sleep, so whenever kapha is decreased and in effect vata increases, it causes lack of sleep. Along with this, loss of dhatus can also trigger the elevation in vata levels causing insomniac problems.
Increased meda and flaccidity of dhatus, lack of exercise, diet consisting of ‘over nourishing’ foods, increases kapha and tama, leading to excessive sleep.
Holistic approach of Ayurveda
Ayurveda keep its holistic approach towards sleep, giving it subjective, seasonal, psychological and circadian contexts with no stone going unturned.
Individuals who are obese, having kapha predominance, deranged fat metabolism (high cholesterol etc) are supposed to cut short their sleep rations. While those who sustain physical and mental exertion in any form, elderly people, children, underweight individuals can have larger portions of sleep and for them napping too is suggested so as to keep balance of doshas and dhatus.
Except summer, napping is strictly forbidden as it impedes the doshic balance with elevated kapha and pitta, hinders the digestion process making bodies prone to diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Individuals who are ‘going through a lot lately’ type thing with their minds occupied with resentment, stress, anxiety, fear, misery need breaks from their weary and tiresome thinking process to level off the emotional stability.
We must know that humans are programmed to work in sunlight and restore themselves for the next day by sleeping in the moonlight. Reverse this and you step into a water vessel with a hole, unidentifiable to conscious and rational mind. Ayurveda strictly forbids stealing natural allowance of night sleep and then trying to make it up with naps.
To summarize, sleep is a multi angular thing and affects practically every other aspect of health.
I will summarize some practical things below along with general guideline for sleep in accordance with Ayurveda :
- Don’t try to remodel your bodies for nocturnal living, we are humans, not batman or Shehenshah whose job profile demands to work at night.
- Say no to naps and limit your sleep only to moonlight
- Don’t go to sleep just after dinner. Keep at least 2 hr of difference in dinner and bedtime.
- Dinner should be light.
- A good bath after a long, weary day is refreshing.
- If you couldn’t take enough sleep at night, get half of that during day before lunch.
- Applying oil to soles, facilitates sleep
- If you are facing sleep problems due to exertion, weight loss, vata predominance – take a glass of milk with 1 tsp of ghee and sugar, about 1 hr before going to bed.
- A gentle whole body massage is advisable for better sleep.
- Application of aromatic herbs like – sandal, vetiver, spikenard on eyes and face is helpful.
- Some therapies in Ayurveda like – shirodhara (continuous streaming of oils over head), shirobhyang (oil massage of head), nasya (nasal drops) be suggested.
As a physician I cannot prescribe or suggest medicines as it would be clinically incorrect without consulting a person face to face.
You can contact me personally regarding your sleep disorders.
Let All Be Healthy & Happy !
Dr. Neelesh, MD (AYURVEDA)