The Forgotten Art Of Sleep & Relaxation
An Ayurvedic approach to sleep - Dr. Vignesh Devraj
Culturally, we are so disconnected from the art of relaxing that we do not even understand what true relaxation means. Relaxing is not doing what you want, scrolling through the screen or being entertained. Relaxation is when your mind chatter is low, your muscles are relaxed and the basal metabolic rate is also low. In this state, the body uses the bare minimum energy to keep you going, and all other activities are down.
Nidra or Deep Relaxation is when our nervous system, mind and body are relaxed. Engaging in activities you love brings you joy, but not rest.
According to Ayurveda, the ability to live long with vitality is high when the three pillars, called Triyoga Stampha are strong. One of these pillars is Nidra - Relaxation. The major reason we struggle with sleep is the high levels of stimulation and information available to us these days. We seem to miss the point that humans are not biologically wired to handle this level of stimulation.
Surrendering To Circadian Rhythm
We need to understand that it’s not just about getting 6-8 hours of sleep, but also about getting it on time. Between 8 pm to 10 pm, our bodies release melatonin to induce sleep. Our first sleep wave comes in this period. When we push this urge away, our evolutionary intelligence interprets this as an emergency and releases cortisol. The constant release of this hormone wreaks havoc on our vital organs. Surrendering to our circadian rhythm, also known as our biological clock is essential to stay healthy.
Sleep And Lifestyle Disorders.
A healthy person wakes up fresh and goes to bed tired at night. If your body does the opposite, it means you are not in sync with your circadian rhythm. Sleeping late at night for a long period causes the constant release of stress hormones in our body, which over time leads to serious metabolic disorders. Just by switching the patterns, many of these conditions can be reduced to a great extent.
Shift Your Mindset
If you truly want to improve your quality of sleep, ask yourself this. “What are the habits that are stopping me from sleeping well, and am I willing to give that up?”Prioritise your sleep. Sleep is not a hindrance to your productivity but a necessity for creativity. Identify your habits that compromise your sleep quality and set an intention to stop them. Start new routines and have patience. It takes a while to undo the patterns. Build a night routine for yourself and practise sleep hygiene. Give cues to your body on a regular basis that it is time to sleep. Remember that routine is a friend to your body.
Using Sleep Supplements
Sometimes, it is necessary to rely on medicines while making the shift or when we are too sleep-deprived and it affects our life quality. Just remember that the purpose of taking medicines is to stop taking medicines. Instead of completely relying on supplements, use it as a crutch to makeshift to a better lifestyle.
Ayurvedic Herbs And Therapies
Nabhi Vasti - Holding warm oil in the naval region signals safety and mimics the security of being in the womb.
Pizhichil - In this treatment, warm oil is poured all over the body. It’s not a massage, but pouring of oil.
Shirodhara - The third eye chakra is a very powerful marma point in our body associated with our pineal gland. It calms down the nervous system and relaxes the body.
Thalam - Oil is held in the crown chakra part.
Tagara - Helps with insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep
Ashwagandha - Helps with anxiety, do avoid if you have dry gut issues or constipation.
Kapikachhu - Powerful for dopamine deficiency
Dr. Vignesh Devraj is a fourth-generation Ayurvedic healer. He is the founder and chief physician of Sitaram Beach Retreat, Kerala – a space for authentic healing and transformation. Sitaram Ayurveda has a 100 year legacy in Ayurvedic practice and healing. He also has a weekly podcast on Ayurvedic wisdom and insights @ Ayurvedic Healing and Beyond. You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org