By Lissa Coffey
Co-founder of Tulsi Spa, and Spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council (www.bettersleep.org)
Millions of Americans of all ages are affected by sleep problems, many with severe, chronic sleep deprivation. A round-the-clock activity-driven society has meant that many individuals habitually defer sleep to get other things done. I’ll catch up later,” is, however, easier said than done. Recent research indicates that pervasive sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health problems than just a dull clouded feeling the next morning – including obesity, high blood pressure and diminished resistance to infections. While there is substantial awareness about the need for proper nutrition and exercise, many people tend to shrug off lack of sleep as not being of much consequence, and, as a result, go through life with both mind and body always performing at less than optimal levels.
According to ayurveda, sleep is one of the three pillars of health. Along with diet, and relationships, sleep is critical to good health and well-being. Quality sleep acts as a rejuvenator of mind and body, enabling us to function at peak levels during our waking hours. Even powerful medicine is of little use if the fundamental pillars of life are not strong and solid.
Sleep is important because it enhances Ojas – considered in ayurveda to be the master coordinator between mind, body and the inner self. Ojas is the finest product 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 systems.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, that is considered a Vata imbalance. Practice the Vata routine, eat warm, cooked foods, don’t overdo it during the day (either mentally or physically).
If you can fall asleep fine, but then wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, that is considered a Pitta imbalance. You will want to follow the pitta routine. Make sure you get to bed by 10 pm. 10 pm is when Pitta time starts, so during that time, it is harder for the mind and body to settle in to sleep.
Ayurveda and Sleep