WORLD SLEEP DAY: By Vikram Khaitan
“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama
When and how much to sleep ?
The Ayurveda has divided a day into eight segments (praharas) of approximately three hours each.
The four ‘praharas’ of the night correspond to the following:
The First (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.) is called Pradosha
The Second (9:00 p.m. till midnight) is called Nishitha
The Third (Midnight to 3:00 a.m.) is called Triyaama
The Fourth (3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.) is called Usha
The ideal time for an adult to sleep is between 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. The quality of sleep is twice as much during 9 p.m. to midnight as compared to midnight to 3 a.m. and the sleep quality further deteriorates to half as much after 3 a.m.
I cannot prescribe you how much sleep your body needs but you can judge that for yourself. I would also like to add that we can improve the quality of our sleep by shutting off all electronic media at least an hour before sleep and at least for half an hour after waking up. These blue ray emitting devices have the potential to cause much harm to us, more than we can imagine.
If you can’t get yourself to sleep, then create and follow a ritual. Have an early dinner soon after sunset and take a brief walk. Drink a glass of water half an hour after meals. Brush your teeth and take a shower. Shut all gadgets (television, laptop, tablets, mobiles, all of them) by 8 p.m. Spend some quality time with family or read a book. By 9 p.m. make your room comfortable and sleep. Wake up at 3 a.m. and freshen up. Meditate, practice yoga; and your fresh day begins. The wee hours of the morning are the best hours to carry our personal developmental planning and activities because the cosmic network is not clogged or choked as most of the folks are still fast asleep. Wake up latest by 5a.m. If waking up at 3 a.m. seems very weird to you because of your chosen lifestyle. Follow this ritual for a few days and notice the change.
The body has to heal and repair itself during sleep, so give it a chance. Eat, Sleep and Pray, and follow it in this order. We spend ironically a third of our life sleeping, so let’s do that right. Never undermine the power of sleep.
How to improve your circadian rhythm?
“Sleeping under the stars feels like being on top of the world, a part of the cosmos, floating in dreams, yet rooted to nature”– Vikram Khaitan
For one time in life, experiment with yourself and sleep under the stars. Begin with your own terrace on a night of clear sky when you can see the stars. If you are atop the tallest building around, you’d enjoy but if you have towering buildings around you and dazzling city lights, you may not enjoy as much. In such a case you could opt for a beach resort or forest resort or a hill resort. Do not try this in an open and wild jungle if you are not used to.
Once the place is selected, what you need is a starry night and total absence of city lights and no noise. Make a weather check that the night should not be rainy or too cold. Have a comfortable rolling mattress, a sheet to cover, mosquito repellent, a bottle of water and a few munchies if you are doing this away from home. Perhaps you may experience a moment of discomfort or anxiety (because it is an unknown place), followed by a cool breeze that would sing you a lullaby. Keep gazing at the stars till you doze off in sleep. In the morning you will wake up with the first rays of dawn and the chirping of birds. A one day trial will motivate you to do it for several days.
The results shall be amazing. Stress reduction is just a minor takeaway. This can do bigger wonders to you. It will improve your circadian rhythm (biological sleep clock), boost immunity, improve metabolism and reboot your mind. It can also help ease post trauma stress. Even two weekends or few days at a stretch will be convincing enough for experiencing benefits. The health benefits are tremendous and it is not as inane as it sounds.