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Sleep According to Ayurveda
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The time to sleep is night. Sleep promotes proper growth. Sleep is bodily inertia with mental relaxation.
Ten-minute naps are good for Vata types. Long naps are permitted in the hot part of the summer, when days are long and nights are short. Sleeping during the day increases Kapha. Only the very weak, very young, very old, those exhausted by sex, diseased, overwork, one under the influence of intoxicants and other emotional or physical trauma should sleep longer than 15 minutes in the afternoon. Sometimes a nap before eating can help with acute indigestion.
Sleeping during the day produces Ama, unless a person has been awake all night.
Sleeping on the left side helps digestion. It promotes the functioning of the right nostril and is good for a person. The right nostril heats and activates the body and when it is working a person becomes more interested in food and sleep.
Sleeping sitting up provides the most alert sleep and is the best. Yogis often sleep sitting up.
Sleeping on the right side is relaxing, and it activates the left nostril, which cools and relaxes the body making it easier to control (which is good for Yoga).
Sleeping on the back disturbs Vata. It activates both nostrils at the same time, which produces disease by (encouraging energy to leave the body). Sleeping on the back harms the brain.
Sleeping on the stomach disturbs everything. It causes disease by obstructing deep, healthy breathing.
It is best to sleep with the top of the head facing east and the feet facing west (promotes meditative sleep). Facing south while sleeping draws energy into body.
Sleeping facing north draws energy from the body, and disturbs the body, mind and spirit. Sleeping with the head facing west causes disturbing dreams.
Before going to sleep it is best to wash the hands, feet and face. Then it is good to massage the feet with a little oil and meditate for a while to allow the negative impacts of the day to dissipate. Then do some Pranayama before sleeping.
To stop wet dreams a person can wash the feet and legs with cold water before going to sleep, as this draws energy from the genitals which reduces the chance of nocturnal emission.
It is best to go to bed only to sleep and not to read, write or think. It is best to rise immediately after awakening.
Don’t sleep in the kitchen or where food is prepared as the subtle vibrations will get your digestive tract working and disturb your sleep.
It is best to wear the least amount of cloths possible and one should especially avoid socks.
Don’t cover the face while sleeping so you can not breathe properly, otherwise a person breathes their own deoxidized air.
The bed should be at least 12 inches above the ground. Sleeping on a damp or wet surface is very bad. The level of the head should be above that of the feet.
Sleeping under the moon is very good and sleeping under the sun is very bad.
Sleeping while hungry is not good for health. Sleeping after lunch will increase Kapha and body weights.
It is especially bad to sleep during the sunset hours, as it is said to cause poverty, disturb the bodily systems and impairs digestion. Sex at this time is also bad. Reading at this time hurts the eyes. During the sunset hours there is an increased chance of having an accident during walking and driving.
How to Get Good Sleep
1. People who do more physical labor need more sleep than people who sit behind a desk all day.
2. People who are working need more sleep than a person who is retired,
3. A person over 21 should not sleep more than 8 hours. If a person does they will have an excess of Tamas (Ignorance) in the system, which will cause a person to feel tire and listless.
4. The amount of sleep needed varies according to age. The list below is for extraordinary persons and is not for the average persons, but it gives an idea of the amount of sleep one needs according to age.
a. First seven years one needs 10 to 12 hours sleep.
b. 8 to 10 years old needs 8 to 10 hours
c. In the third seven years of life a person needs 6 to 8 hours sleep.
d. In fourth seven years a person needs 5 to 6 hours.
e. In fifth seven years a person needs 4 to 5 years
f. In sixth seven years a person needs 3 to 4 hours
g. In seventh seven years a person needs little sleep
5. Persons in a service position need more sleep than a person in an administrative position.
6. If a person feels refreshed and inspired after they wake up, than they have slept a correct amount of time. If after waking up one feels tire and drained they are not sleeping the correct amount of time (usually too much). You can change sleeping time by 15 minute a day increments to see what is the proper amount of sleep one needs.
7. Sleeping during the day disturbs gases, bile, lymph and blood flow. It causes disturbances of breathing, heaviness in the head, chest regions disorders and other problems.
8. It is alright to sleep during the day for a person who has done hard physical labor, persons in pain, and for persons with nausea. Also for a person with gastric disorders, alcoholic intoxication, and persons who are fasting. In extremely hot weather it is alright to take a nap at the hottest time of the day.
9. Best time to sleep is from three hours after sunset to 90 minutes before dawn. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
10. Going to sleep with a full stomach diverts the body’s energy from recharging the system and also causes bad dreams.
Vata persons should go to bed by 10 pm and sleep on their left side. Pitta persons should go to sleep between 10 pm to 11 pm and sleep on their right side. Kapha people should go to bed between 11 pm and 12 midnight and sleep on their left side.
Kapha persons like to sleep 9 hours. Sleeping this long slows down their metabolism and causes them to put on weight. Kapha persons should go to bed between 11 pm and midnight and it is best for them to wake up between 4:30 am to 5 am and then take a walk. This amount of sleep will make the body feel better and help them lose weight.
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