Sleep is one of the Traya Upastambhas (3 supporting pillars of life). Sleep in terms of quality and quantity is essential to maintain an optimum health. Serious sleep disturbances can lead to many diseases and also to death. Dr. V L Shyam gives us an Ayurvedic perspective.
Sleep is a natural time for the body and mind to rest, reset, detoxify, and rejuvenate. Given an opportunity, we can sleep at any time, but that is not good for health. Sleeping at night is conducive to health and prevents many diseases.
The Ayurveda sleep ritual includes activities that will help for a well-deserved, deep, and nourishing night’s sleep. When done properly, these rituals ensure a harmonious body and a fresh start to the day.
Habits to avoid for good sleep:
Coffee / tea at least 3 hours before sleep time.
Avoid spicy food, curds, heavy foods; foods that cause bloating such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carbonated, high acid drinks, dairy products, potato maize, pasta, chewing gum.
Avoid sweets and fried foods at night.
Since the energy requirement at night is very less, it is better to avoid a heavy dinner. Light dinner gives your tummy and body a light experience, inducing natural sleep.
Ensure dinner is done by 6 pm and liters of water is not consumed before bed.
A full body oil massage at least once in a week will improve your skin and muscle tone, general strength, calm your mind and relax your body. Mild swedana (steam therapy) after massage further helps to enhance the relaxation effect of massage therapy. It helps to achieve natural sleep.
Acharya Sushruta says one should sit comfortably like a king until the heaviness and discomfort of food gets settled. After that, one should walk for shata pada (hundred steps) and then lie down on a comfortable bed turning to the left side. Sleeping on your left side is very beneficial as it improves blood circulation, and promotes cardiac and digestive functioning.
A warm shower is recommended before bed.
Avoid screen time before bed.
Sleep in a dark, sound-proof room. This allows the mind to be calm.
Sleep with head facing South or East.
It really helps to keep a fixed schedule for sleeping, it sets up the body rhythm. It will set the body and mind clock.
Dr. V L Shyam, BAMS, MD, MPhil is an award-winning doctor and the first licensed Ayurveda doctor in UAE. He is currently in the interview panel of Ministry of Health. Dr Shyam practices traditional authentic Ayurveda. He consults at Dr Shyam’s Ayurveda Centre in Dubai and Burjeel Day Surgery Center, Abudhabi.