Sleep: The Fundamental Pillar of Life
Sleep is one of the fundamental pillars of life. Along with diet, sleep is crucial for good health, well being and most importantly rejuvenation. Even powerful medicine is of little use if this fundamental pillar is not strong and solid.
MYTH : Most people think 'sleep' is something you can catch up with later. No. It cannot be caught up with. Sleep deficit cannot be balanced by additional sleeping.
The human body exists in the 'now', not in the past or future.
What matters is, "what are you doing with it now?"
Do we ever choose not to breathe now and catch up with it later? No. Fortunately we do not have that option, we'd simply die.
Sleep too needs to be respected in the same manner, or else we are knowingly signing up for a lot of painful diseases limiting our growth emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Ayurveda recommends going to sleep before 10pm. This is not a negotiable number unless it's an emergency.
1 hour of sleep before 12 am is equivalent to 2 hours of rest.
And 2 hours of sleep post 12 am is equivalent to 1 hour of rest.
Proper sleep is extremely important, I repeat, extremely important as it enhances Ojas.
Ojas - in Ayurveda is considered to be the master coordinator between the mind, body and inner self. Ojas is the finest product/result of digestion, the main life supporting force within the body. It acts like a shock absorber, helping to insulate the mind from day-to-day stress and enhancing the body's innate immune system.
QUALITY SLEEP : Perfect sleep occurs when a tired mind is completely disconnected from the senses. When only partial disconnect happens, the quality of sleep is severely affected.
Always sleep on a mattress that supports the spine properly. The mattress must not be lumpy, too soft or too hard.
The pillow should not be more than 3 - 3.5 inches.
One must always get 7-8 hours of proper sleep.
If not a shower, then at least wash your hands and legs before going to sleep. This regulates the body temperature.
Once in bed, focus only on relaxing and sleeping. Sleep time is not extra reading time or the time to think about the day tomorrow, it's only for sleeping.
A glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric powder before going to bed acts as a good sleep enhancer.
Emptying your mind of all thoughts, some deep relaxed breathing while lying down and you are ready to drift into sleep that heals the body and mind.
Benfits of Good Sleep
Improved performance (mentally and physically)
Sharpens attention - lack of sleep in adults make them tired and lazy. Kids become hyperactive due to lack of sleep eventually developing ADHD (attention defiencieny hyperactive disorder)
Curbs inflammation / swelling / water retention in the body - inflammation is one of the main causes for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature ageing
Healthy weight balance - sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When sleepy, certain hormones go up in the blood, these same hormones drive appetite.
Enhances emotional stability
To tie this information up with a nice bow, here's a fact -
The world's most powerful drug for reducing stress, completely detoxifying and rejuvenating the whole body and mind, preventing premature ageing and also guaranteeing a long healthy life. Well, fact is that we already have access to something that does this on an everyday basis. It comes free, without any side effects and it's called "good sleep".
All are unhappy because they exert themselves. But none knows this. The blessed one attains emancipation through this instruction alone.
Asthavakra Samhita XVI.3