Healthy Sleep: not how long, but when
NASA investigated the dependence of a person’s psycho-physical state on sleep quality. The experiment showed that one sleepless night leads to a 30% decrease in general cognitive ability. Lack of sleep affects attention, memory, mood, mathematical abilities, logical thinking, and even such gross motor functions as movement on an escalator or treadmill. According to Harvard Medical School, the lack of a full night’s sleep not only impairs memory, immunity, and mood, but also leads to obesity.
The ancient science of Ayurveda examines this issue even more deeply. It states that we as living beings consist of one gross (physical) and three subtle (energetic) bodies: the body of prana (vital energy), the body of the mind (consisting of feelings, thoughts, emotions, and memory) and the body of intelligence (we perceive it as our own worldview).
The Vedas specify certain periods of the night which are designed to relax and reconstitute each of these aspects of the body and psyche.
Mind and intelligence
These basic aspects of the psyche are restored only for three hours a day – from 9 pm to 12 am, and only if we sleep at this particular time. If not, no matter how hard we try, they do not rest. As a result, over time, fatigue will accumulate. Ayurveda describes the stages of tiredness as follows:
When the mind is fatigued:
In stage 1 the colors of life fade.
In childhood, the world was perceived very vividly: grass, sun, sky – everything seemed extraordinary. But over time, this sensation disappeared – because of the tiredness of the mind.
This is the result of almost nobody going to bed at 9 pm, nor even at 10. Consequently, the psyche does not have time to recover. At 10 pm we should already be asleep, not just preparing to go to bed. That way, the psyche can rest properly for at least a couple of hours.
In stage 2 everything becomes bland and uninteresting. There is no strength even to rejoice at a gift from a loved one – the mind is simply worn out.
In stage 3 nothing pleases the eye. A person is more likely to see flaws in something that under normal circumstances would bring joy.
When the intelligence is fatigued:
Stage 1 manifests itself as the absence of purpose in life. Ask yourself: “Why am I living? What is the strategic goal?” If there is no answer, know: your intelligence is exhausted. All because there is not enough rest! If there is no enthusiasm in life, most often the reason is that we overwork ourselves instead of going to bed early.
Stage 2 entails depression and loss of the meaning of life. It arises as a consequence of the previous stage characterized by the absence of a conscious goal of existence.
Stage 3 entails ddiction to bad habits – smoking, alcohol, tea, coffee – with no ability to refuse them. Therefore, if a person cannot quit smoking, he or she should go to bed earlier. This alone will bring them much closer to victory over cigarettes. When the psyche is sufficiently rested, this habit will go away almost by itself.
Stage 4 involves internal negativity and disrespect for others: relatives, friends, the city, the country, the president, the environment … everything and everyone is annoying and displeasing.
How fatigue of the psyche impacts the physical body:
Fatigue of the psyche, especially the mind and intelligence, entails illness. It is the psyche that controls the physical body, and if it is exhausted, the body malfunctions.
In stage 1 all types of rhythmic disturbances in the functioning of organs and systems arise: tachycardia or bradycardia, vegetovascular dystonia, gallbladder dyskinesia, intestinal atony, etc. That is, all types of disorders when the body ceases to act smoothly begin.
In stage 2 constant nervousness and tension become apparent. The vast majority of people are in this state. We are so used to being tense that we don’t understand how to live relaxed. A good example can be observed during various relaxation practices, when unprepared participants simply fall asleep. Their consciousness merely turns off without having the experience of waking in a calm state. It also manifests itself in the inability to stay in one position for a long time and in uncontrolled movements (tapping with fingers, bouncing one’s leg, etc.)
In stage 3 all kinds of diseases emerge: impaired immunity, allergies, autoimmune ailments. Moreover, all these issues will be of a chronic nature, and extremely difficult to treat. If you persistently try to cure a condition with no result, you should know that the reason may be not inappropriate drugs, but the need to go to bed on time. The psyche is so severely depleted that it simply cannot control the assimilation of drugs. Therefore, all external manipulations will be useless.
The emotional sphere is restored from 1 to 3 am. Fortunately, only the most desperate do not sleep at that time.
In stage 1 a person becomes unemotional.
In stage 2 a person becomes tearful.
In stage 3 a person becomes hysterical.
Therefore, when a family has a small child, it is good that the husband or other family members help in caring for the baby, giving the woman the opportunity to rest and recover during these essential hours of night.
Life energy (prana)
We replenish the balance of vitality only two hours per day – from 11 pm to 1 am. Accordingly, if you do not sleep at this time, the supply of prana is not restored.
Its lack is manifested as a breakdown of normal functioning, mental and physical lethargy, decreased tone of the psyche and all organs.
Notice that, if we go to bed even an hour later than 10 pm, and on this account sleep longer in the morning, we have less strength to deal with daily stress.
Families argue the most during the weekend, and on Sundays more often than on Saturdays. Why? During the working week, we are forced to get up early, which makes us to go to bed on time and keeps our psyche in the right mood. However, on Saturday and Sunday we manage to get enough rest and miss an auspicious time to retire. Consequently, Mondays becomes difficult.
Our daily routine has a decisive influence on our condition.
A person who does not rest in due time will accumulate fatigue, destroying their mental and physical health. As a result, the level of the general satisfaction with life, a feeling of happiness, inevitably falls.
And the opposite is true: just resting as much as needed and, most importantly, when necessary, we prevent many problems in all areas of life – from health to family relationships.
The time for a healthy sleep should be calculated based on the position of the sun. Our body does not recognize the daylight savings adjustments and feels that a noon is when the sun is highest in the sky.
So, in summer, when the time shifts, we need to go to sleep at the latest at 10-11 pm (instead of 9-10 pm during the winter time). Of course, nothing bad will happen if you go to bed at 9-10 all year long.
TODAY’S TIP: 9 – 10 pm is the latest time to go to bed, 7-8 pm is even better because in that case you will rise early in the morning at the time that is in the mode of goodness. This time is very auspicious for spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation, and reading of the Holy Scriptures.