Healthy habits in Ayurveda 8
Cleanliness of the clothes are worn while going to the bed is also made of importance in Ayurveda. Do not wear the same clothes which one has been wearing during the day. The clothes for sleeping should be loose. The bed should be neat and tidy with the sheets covering the body. The bed should also be clean. The mattresses and bed sheets should be made up of cotton. Use of foam, sponge, nylon etc for long is harmful. Just one way they are harmful is how the natural fibers do to body heat verses those fabricated substances. In actuality, sleeping on the floor with just sheets is the healthiest in many ways and what was done back in time but we have grown far from understanding nature and grown more and more into comforts and conveniences that have nothing to do with health in modern times.
One should sleep on a thin mattress. Only a mat with bed-sheet should be enough in the summer time. Again, cots having straight wooden planks are preferred to maintain the natural vigor of the body as compared to those having the base made up of plastic fibers, jute or metal etc. Do not use the bed sheets or covers used by others unless these have been washed and dried properly. Beds are not shared. Sleeping on separate mats put on the floor is ideal but a extremely weird idea from a Western mind. The Western body is also so far from healthy due to the use of the beds used in the West that to sleep on the earth or floor leaves one sore and stiff. this is due to the weakness of the body that has been caused by those soft beds. If one wishes to make a stronger body and learn to sleep on the floor or use a mat or thin mattress, it is better to gradually change thru time rather than all at once. Ayurveda never just changes things radically. That would aggravate vata.
The bedroom should have cross-ventilation. Windows should be kept open while sleeping for airflow with mesh screen to prevent mosquitoes or/and other insects while sleeping.
Do not keep the direction of the head towards north because the magnetic meridian of the earth retards the blood flow through brain capillaries and affect the functioning of brain cells. The same goes for the head to the East due to the solar energy and how it cycles. The head should be in the West or South so that you wake and lift your head to see the sunrise. The bed should also be in the South Eastern corner of the room and the bedroom should be in the southeatsren corner of the house.
Sushruta shares the wisdom around all of this…..
Prasangat Gatra Sansparshanti shvasatsahabhojam | Sahashayya Sataccapi Vastramalyanulepanam || Kustham Jvarasya shothashrca Netrabhisyanda Eva Ca | Auparsargika Rogashca Sankramanti Narantaram ||
Sexual relationship, bodily contacts, inhaling others exhaled breath, exchange of bodily fluids, sleeping on the same bed, sitting neck to neck, eating together from a common plate, eating somebody’s leftovers, sharing clothes, jewelry and ornaments, soaps, lotions etc…. spread leprosy, infections, fevers, and other diseases, etc….. Sleep is called bhutadhatri which takes care and nurtures all creatures.
Charaka states Ratriswabhava Prabhava Mata Ya, Tam Bhutadhatrim Pravadanti Nidram
The sleep of night is a natural gift, which is rightly termed bhutadhatri.
Chakrapani states Bhutani Pranino Dadhati, Pusnati Iti Bhutadhatri
Sleeping in the night is essential and most beneficial. As a dhatri (wet nurse, aayaa or governess) looks after an infant, sleep also nourishes all creatures. It is therefore called bhutadhatri.
Chittam Prasadayati Laghavamadadati Pratyangamujjavalayati Pratibhavishesam | Dosanudasyati Karoti cha Dhatu Samyam Anandamarpayati Yoga vishesagamyam ||
Good sleep creates happiness in the mind and relaxation and rejuvenation in the body. It also enhances mental and intellectual capacity. It helps balance the harmonious functions of the body. How is one to get this natural bliss of good sleep? Charaka explains…
Brahmcaryarate Gramyasukha Nispaha Cetasa | Nidrasantosataptasya Svam Kalam Nativartate
One who reads spiritual books and attempts acquiring knowledge and mental enlightenment, who does not indulge in sensual pleasures and accumulation of material possession, whose mind is contented, his/her sleep remains punctual in its proper timings and duration. “Padma Purana” also states that one who has disciplined over his sense organs and who sleeps at the right time will enjoy good sleep and get up at the right time in the early morning with fresh energy. One should have deep sleep during the night. One should avoid sleeping in the daytime; the time of lying down on the bed during the day should be kept to the minimum. If one needs to nap during the day it should be while sitting up to avoid imbalance of the doshas. The sleep of night is pitta nashaka which means it eliminates the dosha of pitta the problems of acidity, excess of heat, and lack of specific fluids in the body and abnormality in metabolism, etc.
The sleep during the daytime is termed as kapha sangrahaka that which aggravates the kapha dosha, the problems of breathing, cold and cough, drowsiness, etc. Adopting the present day habits of going to sleep late in the night and getting up late in the morning, sleeping after lunch in the afternoon etc, increase the cases of problems pertaining to pitta and kapha.
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of sleeping in the second and third phases of night out of the four phases since sunset to sunrise. Lying in the first phase of night time, the evening, should be used for reading and contemplating on the teachings of vedic scriptures and/or devotional prayers etc. The last phase which lies at the junction of night and morning called Brahma Muhurta is best for spiritual practices of mantra japa, meditation and other sadhanas. The period for sleep is referred as mahanisa and is the most suitable time for healthful sleep. All the bodily functions of a person who sleeps during this period remain in good order as well as do all his other faculties. Even simple food works like a nutritious diet for such a person and they enjoy a purposeful and vigorous life.
Dream: Analysis of dreams is an important method of comprehensive diagnostics. One who does not get sound sleep sees varieties of dreams through the subconscious mind. Experiencing many or frequent dreams is a sign of unbalanced or perturbed state of the system. Dreaming during sleep disturbs the sleep and prevents proper relaxation of the body. It deprives the mind of rest and relaxation as it is the mind still running like a car that is taken out of gear into neutral with the engine still running. Physical laborers and those who do physical exercise and go to the bed in a relaxed mood get good sleep. Physical exertion is just as important for proper digestion as it is for healthy sleep.
There are seven categories of dreams in which five correspond to dreams that are meaningless. These are mere reflections of disturbed sleep. They are unresolved emotions, mental excitations, tensions of the subconscious mind. The dreams of diseased, agonized, stressed, insane, and sensually excited or erogenous fall in this category. Two categories of dreams are stated to be of notable importance. They are precognitive and spiritually enlightening dreams. The Vedic literature contains rare and precious knowledge of the science of sleep and dream, from this Ayurveda derives several of its diagnosis of characterization of natural constitution and prognosis of the imbalance as well as ability to see future disease pathway.