Getting your zzzzzzzzzzs is a at the foundation of how your are feeling.
Ayurveda states ‘The three pillars of good health are food, sleep and the proper functioning of Svadisthana chakra’ – Charaka Samhita.Sutrasthana.11.35 (with translation)
Wow! This is such great information for those of us who are working on feeling better, staying well and, Ayurveda’s specialist subject, aging well!
Ayurveda (and yoga), rather than being defined dogmatic rules about what should or shouldn’t be done or said or experienced, are instead teachers regarding our relationship to the things around us and within us.
Last week’s article looked into using good food and good eating practice’s to strengthen that ‘pillar’ supporting our foundation of health. This week I’m looking into how Ayurveda views sleep and what it recommends to get your zzzzzzzzzzzzzs.
As you can imagine, finding the cause of your sleeplessness is the first port of call. Removal of the cause is the first line of treatment in Ayurveda. This part of the treatment is called Nidana Parivarjana. This is the part that most of us have already done a thousand times over if we are struggling to sleep. But it’s still an important mention.
Cut down on caffeine
Cut down on sugar
Reduce computer time during the day
Stop work 4 hours before bed-time
Start a relaxing bed time routine
Reduce noise and disturbance during hours of sleep
Adjust work patterns and schedules to allow for the best possible (for your work responsibilities) sleep/wake balance.
Make your bedroom a comfortable temperature
Meditate each day to reduce mental tension
Exercise each day to reduce physical tension
Sleep is as important to our health as our diet say the ancient Ayurvedic texts! And sleep is one of the 13 natural urges of the body that shouldn’t be suppressed according to Ayurveda.
In particular, suppression of the urge to sleep when you are tired or by missing important hours of sleep or getting to bed too late each night are yawning, general malaise, drowsiness, headaches and heaviness in the eyes. If you are feeling one or more of these symptoms continuously, read on.
The remedy for missed sleep and the symptoms of missed sleep is, as would be expected, sleep! But, if you could do this you already have, so Ayurveda also states that massage is your first port of call to both remove the symptoms of poor sleep AND to help you to sleep better in the future.
Ayurvedic therapy has specific types of massage that are most important in the debilitating condition of insomnia. The most important treatments for insomnia follow:
1.Shiro Abhyanga – warmed herbal oil applied to the head, neck and shoulders. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for chronic fatigue, headaches, neck stiffness and burning/tired eyes.
2.Hasta Abhyanga – warmed herbal oils applied to the hands. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for IBS symptoms and constipation along with sciatic pains.
3.Prishta Abhyanga – warmed herbal oils applied to the back. This type of Ayurvedic massage is also good for IBS symptoms and for people who can’t sleep because of stress.
4.Karna Purana – warmed herbal oil applied inside the ears. This ayurvedic treatment is followed by a warm oil face massage and is good for low back pain and sciatic as well as tinnitus.
5.The King of Treatments is Shirodhara. It is a stream of warm oil massage applied to the head via an Ayurvedic Shirodhara stand and pot followed and preceded by warm oil massage to the head, neck and shoulders. This King of Treatments is good for a many varied types of symptoms and your Ayurvedic practitioner should recommend a short detox before your treatments begin.
So, if sleeping is such a fine remedy for health, you might think that catching up sleep in the day instead is a very enjoyable and therapeutic option when there’s time. As with all things, for some it is and for some it isn’t.
For those who sleep regularly during the day when the body doesn’t require it, the symptoms of heavyness, headache, loss of digestive power, nausea, rhinitus, coughing and over-all congestion may start to occur over time.
But day-sleep is recommended if you are studying to excess, travelling long distances and for those who are convalescing. It is also recommended for the very young and very old and those who are injured and weak and those who are suffering from fear, grief and excess anger.
AND we all get to enjoy day-sleep in the Summer with no consequences! YES! Long lounging sunny summer days coming ahead!…… Make sure you get those day-sleeps in come July/August.
So, what is the remedy for this other than booking regular massages? Self massage over the marma points that refresh the body into a better state.
Here are a few points to use. Warm some sesame oil and rub these points in a circular rhythm each evening before bed.
1.3rd eye point – between the eyebrows
2.Netri marma point – centre of the forehead
3.Simanta – crown of the head
4.Talahrdya marma – both palms of hands and both soles of feet
5.Gulpha – outer ankles
A fantastic herbal remedy for stress related tensions, insomnia and nervousness is Brahmi. Brahmi is sweet herb that is considered a brain tonic and helps the body to relax without the heaviness of many other insomnia remedies (this means that it is easy to digest). Check with your Ayurvedic practitioner to see if it is the right remedy for you and if it is compatible with your current health regime/condition and/or supplements/prescriptions.
Good sleep and good health!