When sleeping, it is very important to consider quantity, quality, timing and position. Sleep is linked to all health. In Ayurveda, too, sleep is one of the four pillars of all health.
I see many people looking for complex treatments, protocols, and supplements before making sure the basics of healing are in place. This also includes sleep! Lack of sleep, both quantitative and qualitative, and improper timing of sleep is associated with excessive sleep, blood sugar fluctuations, insulin resistance, poor nutrient absorption, yeast overgrowth, accumulation of toxic waste, low melatonin levels, higher inflammation, intestinal permeability, fatty liver, hormonal disorders, and mental illness. The verdict is final. Focus on Sleep recovery before thinking of navigating more complex protocols.
Amount of sleep
Recently someone told me to only sleep eight hours, no more, no less. This is not true at all.
The amount of sleep you need depends heavily on your physical condition, time of year, current state of health, type of work, diet and lifestyle.
However, let me provide some guidelines to help you understand this. Those who have nervous system imbalance or adrenal problems may get away with just 6-7 hours of sleep, but they need a lot more to restore healthy nervous system balance. If you’re someone who jumps out of bed after six hours, you need more to calm yourself down. If you’re someone with liver problems, which include hormonal imbalances, skin problems, irritability, and anger, you probably need closer than 8 hours of sleep. If you are someone who is overweight, has water retention, gas, and swelling, you can get as much sleep as 9-10 hours comfortably.
However, you could do better by keeping it around 8 to avoid the lethargy that comes from excessive sleep. As you can see, there is a lot more to it than that. This is just a general guideline.
During a good night’s sleep, you go through various phases of sleep known as 1,2,3,4 and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). You keep moving from 1 towards REM and the cycle repeats. Much of the sleep time is spent in phase 2, while the rest of the time is spent between the other phases and REM.
All phases of deep sleep are crucial for repair, brain healing, memory formation, hormone optimization and detoxification. It doesn’t matter how much you sleep, but how long you stay in deep sleep.
Typically, levels 1 and 2 should be around 60 percent, levels 3 and 4 around 20 percent, and REM 20 percent. This means that you have sufficiently entered all phases of sleep to regenerate and rejuvenate.
Sleep trackers are tricky. Most of them have settings that assume someone is sleeping at a certain time, e.g. B. 10 p.m. Therefore, even if someone sleeps much earlier, it collects data from that time. This provides partial information that can be incorrect. You have to be careful how you track. Even if you don’t track, you can measure sleep quality by how you are feeling about health, energy, mood, digestion, and mental health.
It’s important to have a clear time limit to disrupt interaction with work and social media and reduce exposure to devices (Image: Shutterstock)
Falling asleep is something very important. In our modern world there are many people who talk about different circadian rhythms and some people who are supposed to be a night owl. This needs to be carefully considered.
In Ayurveda, the Pitta time of the night is between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. This is a time when the liver is detoxifying. It also means that if you don’t sleep before 10 p.m. your body will become vigilant and it may become more difficult to fall asleep or have a deep sleep. Kapha time is from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. This means that if you wake up after 6 a.m., you are more likely to feel lethargic, dull, and slow.
Sleeping before 10 p.m. and waking up before 6 a.m. will help you feel more alive, radiant, and productive. This shift in the time of sleep to an earlier point in time is also correlated in research with less obesity, lower insulin resistance and better health parameters.
Sleeping on your back is possibly the healthiest position as it maintains a neutral position of the spine. It’s not ideal if you have sleep apnea or breathing difficulties as this can occlude your airways and make snoring worse. It’s not the most popular position. It is ideal for Vata sufferers or those who need to calm the nervous system. It is best if the head is covered in this position. Lying on your stomach can feel safe for many. While this is good for snoring relief, it is bad for your neck. You can wake up stiffer. Breathing and spine are impaired.
To do this, it is also important to understand the science of breath. Your right nostril represents the sympathetic nervous system. When you are sympathetically dominant, your heart rate is high, your breathing rate is high, your body temperature rises, your pupils dilate and are more active. the left nostril represents the parasympathetic nervous system. When this is active, your heart rate will slow down, breathing will slow down and should prevail at night to help you fall asleep.
Sleeping on your left side with your right nostril up promotes lymphatic drainage from the brain and is especially useful if you are prone to lymph congestion and even depression. It is easy on your heart and helps the bile to flow better. It’s wonderful when you have a full stomach. But active mind and digestion, that’s all done? Then it will be easier for you to fall asleep lying on your right. When you have a full stomach, you should lie down with your right nostril up. If your mind is too alert and sympathetic dominant, lie down with your left nostril up to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Applying warm oil based on your body constitution and then bathing calms the nervous system and helps you fall asleep without sleeping pills or supplements (Image: Shutterstock)
Tips to improve the quantity and quality of sleep
There is so much you can do with gentle layers to improve your sleep and, by extension, your overall health. I could put calming the nervous system high on the list.
1. Abhyanga or Oil massage either in the morning or before dinner is a wonderful tool, the power of which is often ignored today. Applying warm oil based on your body constitution and then bathing will calm the nervous system and help you fall asleep without sleeping pills or supplements. I always suggest starting this before looking for any sleep supplements.
2. The magic sleeping plate starts at breakfast. Adjusting blood sugar levels so that they remain in balance throughout the day culminates in a good night’s sleep. Make sure your meals are warm and one balance of protein, fiber and healthy fats is part of how you sleep well.
3. Set a clear time limit to interrupt your interaction with the world of work and social media and to reduce your contact with devices. This needs to be 3-4 hours before bed for optimal sleep. For me, 5 p.m. is an absolute break-off time. If that’s too early for you, think about the sunset. Sleeping makes a huge difference. You could still get up early and go to work.
4. Avoid bright fluorescent tubes at home in the evening. Even if you don’t have enough red lighting necessary for a better night’s sleep, there is a lot you can do if you keep the lights soft. I see fluorescent white lights in many homes and parents talk about their children not getting sleepy until after 10 p.m. This is only because their physiology is responding to the cues from their own surroundings.
5. Vitamin D plays a big role in the quality of sleep. Making sure you are not deficient, the right dose based on your constitution and at the right time will aid sleep. Work with your doctor to find your way around this area.
These may seem simple interventions, but you will be surprised how much these recommendations change. Add them one by one and watch how you sleep and how you feel when you wake up the next day.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)