When and how much should one sleep ?

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Nowadays, eating and sleeping late at night have become a norm. Hence, many people find it difficult to wake up early in the morning. Eating late at night and sleeping late is an invitation to several lifestyle diseases. So it is important to know how, when and how much to sleep.

1. Good health comes with waking up at dawn

Ayurveda advises us to wake up at Brahmamuhurt (an auspicious time at dawn before the sunrise). Brahmamuhurt is the time period about 48 minutes and 96 minutes before the sunrise. If one wakes up during this time, one automatically feels the need to empty the bowels, and the stomach gets cleansed. Those who are unable to wake up at Brahmamuhurt, should at least wake up by 7 am and thereafter make a habit of getting up earlier gradually (by 15 minutes). Sleeping beyond sunrise can cause problems like body stiffness, lethargy, digestive disorders, constipation etc. Exercising at that time is also more beneficial as the air is fresher in the early morning.

Paratpar Guru Pande Maharaj

Our Sages used to perform morning chores, bathe, and complete ritualistic worship during this time. Thereafter they would sit down to study the Vedas and followed by farming activities and retire to sleep early in the night. Therefore, they always maintained good health. However today people are behaving against the laws of nature due to which their physical health has deteriorated. Look at the birds and animals, they go about their daily routine as per the laws of nature.

– (Paratpar Guru) Parasharam Pande Maharaj

2. Benefits of waking up at Brahmamuhurt

Gurudev Dr. Kateswamiji

2A. During this period, the souls of Divine nature who are devoid of ego are present in the environment.

2B. Brahmamuhurt is enriched with sattvikta. Sattva component is an enhancer of knowledge. Also, during this period, our intellect is pure and bright. Brahmamuhurt is therefore an apt period to perform activities related to Dharma and wealth, contemplation of Principles advocated by Vedas and introspection.

2C. Acts for acquiring qualities such as sattvikta, being engrossed in our duties, receptivity, charity, restraint of senses, penance, peacefulness, compassion, generosity, feeling shameful of committing sinful acts, stability, radiance, and purity become easy and effortless during this period.

2D. Nuisance of insects such as mosquitoes, bedbugs etc. reduces during this period.

2E. Influence of negative energies fades during this period.

– Gurudev Dr. Kateswamiji

3. Long daytime naps are detrimental

3A. Choose between daytime naps and good health

Sleeping during the day, especially post lunch is a major cause of health deterioration. You will find many people who say, “I am ready to follow any diet restrictions, however, do not ask me to stop sleeping in the afternoon.” If one sleeps in the afternoon even after following strict diet restrictions, then such people do not get any benefit of following those diet restrictions. Only when a person understands this, he becomes ready to quit sleeping in the afternoon. In short, if someone genuinely desires good health then there is no other option to quitting the afternoon nap.

3B. Feeling sleepy at noon? Do this!

Definition of an afternoon nap is to lie down on one’s left side for 20 minutes post meals, that too after walking 100 steps. Nap does not mean getting into deep sleep for a few hours.

3B 1. When we eat in excess, our body needs to spend additional energy to digest the food. Since digestion becomes the primary task for the body after lunch, the supply of blood to the stomach is increased and the blood supply to the other body parts is reduced. This also reduces blood supply to the brain therefore many people feel sleepy after having lunch. If so, then you can take a short nap.

3B 2. If you feel sleepy due to exertion, lie down and rest for some time after meals; however, do not fall asleep.

3B 3. If you usually feel sleepy after having heavy meals, eat a bit less to avoid feeling sleepy. So do not completely satiate your hunger. By doing so, the body does not need to draw extra energy from other organs for digesting the food and you will not feel sleepy.

3B 4. If you are unable to restrain afternoon sleep despite above measures, sit down and take an afternoon nap.

4. Continuous late nights are bad for health

4A. Staying awake late in the night causes dryness in the body constituents. Due to this, the proportion Absolute Water Principle (Aaptattva) in the body reduces.

4B. Absolute Water Principle in the body controls the digestive fire. Reduction in Absolute Water Principle causes digestive fire to flare up and it burns the food that is being digested. This causes sour belches. Due to indigestion, the nutrition supply to the digestive fire reduces, and the digestive fire becomes mild. As a result, digestion again deteriorates. Food that has been consumed does not get digested properly and it ferments. This is termed as acidity. If this occurs repeatedly, the food juice (The juice absorbed in the body after the digestion of the food consumed) becomes fermented. Due to absorption of such food juice in the body, the acidity spreads to all body constituents. This results in increase in body heat, looseness in body, darkness before the eyes, dizziness, itching of the body, bilious spots on the skin, reduction of haemoglobin in the blood, occurrence of rashes or sores on various parts of the body, swelling, bone loss, fatigue etc.

4C. Reduction in Absolute Water Principle in the body causes the proportion of water in stools also to reduce. Therefore, the further movement of stools also becomes slow. Dryness in stools causes it to get stuck at its place and this results in constipation. There is a constant flow of Vata (Vata is characterised by the properties of dry, cold, light, minute, and movement. All movements in the body are due to properties of Vata.) from head to the legs. If the stools get stuck, this causes obstruction in the flow of Vata and it then flows in the reverse direction. If this gas flowing in reverse direction enters stomach, then the food that is being digested (i.e., the food mixed with digestive fire) gets pushed in the upwards direction. This causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat. If the gas remains circulating in the stomach, then it causes stomach pain.

If this gas enters heart, it causes heart ailments, if it enters lungs then it causes respiratory problems such as cough or asthma, if it enters eyes, then it causes eye disorder, if it enters head then it causes headache or if it enters any blood vessels in the head causing the blood vessels to rupture then paralysis like disorders can occur due to bleeding in the brain.

This way, regular late nights stints could be the reason behind various health disorders. Such disorders will not get cured until we stop staying awake late into the night. If you want the disorders to get cured and the body to remain healthy, then you should stop staying awake late into the night.

During the young age or till one has good physical strength, one can endure late nights. However, with regular late nights, the physical strength gradually reduces, and the health disorders given above, or other disorders can occur. Therefore, one should strictly avoid staying awake late into the night.

5. Conducts to be followed while sleeping

5A. Do not watch videos or listen to film songs or use mobile phone while sleeping or before going to sleep. Listen to the chants of the Name of God or devotional songs sung by Saints instead.

5B. Preferably, sleep with your head oriented towards east or south. As mentioned in Vishnu and Vaman Purans, sleeping with head oriented towards west or north causes our lifespan to shorten.

5C. Preferably sleep on the left side of the body. However this depends on your constitution and you can find the most comfortable position to sleep in.

5D. Do not sleep diagonally or on the stomach or with feet towards the south, or very close and in front of God’s image/idols.

5E. Do not face heavy wind (such as a fan running on full) while sleeping as it increases dryness in the body, causes skin health to deteriorate and frozen joints.

5F. Take adequate sleep. In general, 6 to 8 hours of sleep is sufficient for an average human being. Find out how much sleep makes you feel energetic and fresh to maintain high energy throughout the day.

5G. Do not sleep in complete darkness.

5H. Place sattvik Name strips of Deities around the bed before sleeping.

5I. Before going to bed, ask God for forgiveness for the mistakes you have made during the day.

5J. Pray to your Deity of worship for a protective sheath to be always present around you and let the chanting of the Name of Deity occur even when you are asleep.

5K. Ensure that the place of sleeping is clean and the arrangement of the bed is sattvik.

Indications of sound and complete sleep

After a good night’s sleep you will automatically wake up in the morning with your eyes fully open, energetic and happy mind.

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