Sleep is one of the basic necessities of our body, similar to hunger and thirst. Though sleeping is a natural phenomenon, some find it difficult to sleep naturally and suffer from sleep deprivation and related diseases. Before you start to think about taking medication for sleeping, consider these simple yet effective sleep tips on how to sleep better.
Table of Contents
Sleep tips for better sleeping
Make your room ready: The sleeping room and your bed should be very neat and clean. Neatness around helps to have a calm mind, leading to good sleep.
Read related: What Is The Right Time To Sleep? How To Plan Your Sleep?
Dark room: Darkness helps to calm the mind faster. It helps to avoid unnecessary thoughts and self-chatting which are the barriers for a sound sleep. If your room is not dark enough, consider using an eye band. It helps.
Sound proof: Sound is another barrier for natural sleep. If your home is not a quiet place, then at least use an ear plug. Using eye cover and ear plug is useful if you work night shifts.
Chose the right bed and pillow: Hard or smooth, choose the right one which suits you.
Read related: 6 Effective Home Remedies For Sleep Disturbances
Bed spread colour: Make sure that the bed spread, covers and pillows are light in colour. Light blue, light purple or whatever soothes your mind.
Keep your arms in right position: Some get good sleep when they keep their arm above the head level. Some wake up from sleep due to a paining arm, which was kept below a pillow. Your arm in a comfortable position is critical for a better sleep.
Foot massage: If you can convince your beloved to do a little foot massage (may be without any oil), it really helps the body and mind to relax better.
Fixed timing: It really helps to keep a fixed schedule for sleeping, it sets up the body rhythm. It will set the body and mind clock.
Read related: Ayurvedic Herbs To Improve Sleep: Chronological List
Avoid TV /Computer – You should not watch TV / Computer screen at least one hour before going to bed.
Avoid horror books, movies, tragedy serials etc – Entertainment should make your mind happy and calm. It should not stimulate your mind, at least late night.
Use day sleeping wisely – Ayurveda advises day sleeping selectively. Click to read about day sleeping.
No heavy dinner – Since the energy requirement at night is very less, it is better to avoid heavy dinner. Light dinner gives your tummy and body a light experience, inducing natural sleep.
Ditch the smoking habit – Smoking causes sleep deprivation. It is one of the many reasons why you should quit smoking.
Read related: Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep
No altercation / anger / heavy thinking – Morning is a better time for sorting out issues. Late night is the time to keep the mind calm and relax the body with sleep.
Oil massage at least once a week – Oil massage should be a part of weekly routine, if not daily routine.
Massage: Whole body oil massage at least once in a week will improve your skin and muscle tone, general strength, calms your mind and relaxes your body. Mild swedana (steam therapy) after massage further helps to enhance the relaxation effect of massage therapy. It helps to achieve natural sleep.
Exercise at night – For a few, exercise at night helps in sleeping, because the body becomes so tired that it finds sleeping as the way to relax and regain strength.
Rose water home remedy – If your eyes are really tired or totally red, before going to bed, it is better to dip two pieces of cotton in rose-water and place it over your closed eyes for a few minutes. Strained eyes sometimes causes sleep deprivation.
Very light music – Playing a light music at a very low volume helps to relax your mind.
Apply oil to hair, shower at night helps a few to fight lack of sleep.
Habits to avoid for good sleep
- Coffee / tea at least 3 hours before sleep time
- Spicy food
- Heavy foods
- Foods that cause bloating such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carbonated, high acid drinks, dairy products, potato maize, pasta, chewing gum.
Avoid sweets and fried foods at night.
Herbs For Better Sleep
- Bala – Country mallow (root) – Sida cordifolia – for neurological disorders
- Amla – Indian gooseberry – in Pitta Dosha increase
- Valerian root – Valeriana officinalis – herbal tea – It acts like benzodiazepines. It establishes better connection between gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) with its GABA receptor in brain = better sleep.
- Tagara – Vareriana wallichi etc.
Lifestyle changes for better sleep
Make sure you spend your time in bed at least 6 hours at night.
Make a strict daily schedule – at what time you are going to have food, what time you will go to bed etc and stick to it.
Drink a glass of warm milk at night-time.
Take a warm water bath during evening hours, after you return from office.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink juices, get your nutrition status to optimum levels.
Do a small workout during the evening, so that you feel tired, followed by a hot shower and then a warm cup of milk will definitely send you straight to bed.
If you are sensitive to even a little bit of noise, use earplugs.
If you are sensitive to light, then switch it off or use a cloth band to cover your eyes, loosely. Now it has been scientifically proven that sleeping in a dark room may prevent depression.
As per Ayurveda, sleeping before 11 pm helps you to sleep better. Kapha Dosha is responsible for inducing deep sleep and between 9 – 11 pm, Kapha Dosha is active. Read – what is the right time to sleep?
Ayurvedic therapies for better sleep
Shirodhara – It is an Ayurvedic procedure to induce deep mind relaxation. It helps to de-stress mind and body.
Shirodhara, a famous procedure of instilling a stream of oil continuously on the forehead for a period of 15 – 30 minutes is the Ayurvedic therapy of choice for relieving stress and to treat insomnia. It also helps to strengthen the sense organs, relieve headache and improve hair health. This procedure also helps to sleep naturally.
Medicated oils like Bala Taila, Ksheera bala taila etc. are used for this procedure.
Read related: Healthy Night Regimen As Per Ayurveda – Ratricharya
Shiro Pichu – A simple procedure of soaking cotton swabs with medicated oils and placing it all over the scalp for a period of 15 to 30 minutes is also very useful in inducing sleep. Best results are obtained if done at night, followed by a hot shower, and a cup of warm milk. However, people with Kapha body type, and those who are lactose intolerant should not take milk at night.
Read Shiro Pichu: Benefits, Procedure
Smartphone on bed
Why Smartphone On The Bed Is Bad?
Answer by Dr JV Hebbar:
During my childhood, Mysore Pak, a famous sweet dish was my favorite. But one day, I had it and it led to vomiting. From that day on, I hated Mysore Pak as its flavor reminded my sub-consciousness about the vomiting it caused.
If the memory / emotion is attached to a thing, it gets registered in the sub-conscious mind for a very long period of time.
With smartphone, the feeling like – social connection, happiness, excitement, expression, love, hate, self praise, attention seeking, knowledge, appreciation, etc. are attached.
With our bed, feelings like calm, rest, detach, relaxation etc. attached.
If we bring the smartphones to our bed, the feelings of calm and rest are replaced with Kama (desire) and Krodha (anger).
Anger: Relation With Body Types, Ways To Control Anger
This feelings from the smartphone get transferred into the bed. So, whenever you hit the bed, automatically, the smartphone-feelings keep you busy, taking away the rest and relaxation from your mind.
This is the reason, people with insomnia are advised to use the bed only at bed time at night.
This is the reason we should have designated place for studying, work, playing, relaxing etc. Thereby one set of emotions do not get mixed by the other set, due to the influence of our surroundings.
Related: Relieving Negative Feelings With Self Awareness – Case Study
How to sleep the Traditional Way?
How to sleep?
The Kaiyadeva nighantu in vihAravarga chapter explains the shayana vidhi as follows.
After the day long and hectic activity, in the night over the sleeping time, one should offer his prayers to the God, teacher and the Sage of his lineage before settling over the bed for his sleep.
Select a clean place, devoid of any busy activities or crowd [an-AvakIrNa], which should be two to three times of length and breadth of one’s physique [dvitri] readied for sleeping by one’s trusted servant [aptaparicarakaH].
The cushion of bed selected for sleep [yukta upadhAnaM] should be clean [vimalaM], comfort providing [sukhaM], mrudu [soft] and measuring to accommodate one’s breadth and length of the physique [sva AstIrNaM vistIrNaM].
The height of the cot placed with the cushion bed should be on par with the position of one’s knee joint, so that it serves the dual purpose of sleeping and sitting over the couch [shubhaM seveta shayana AsanaM].
One should not sleep in south east direction with the head over the east end and the leg over the south end [to avoid disrespecting the lord of death Yama, whose abode lies over in the direction of south].
In the direction of east-west with the head and foot respectively placed in those directions, one should place himself for sleeping. In case if one has the habit of conversing or thinking before sleep, one should always think about righteous things or positive thoughts [dharmam eva anucintayet].
Thus when above such favourable situation ensues [svapna anukUle], one will start experience a sound and undisturbed sleep [puShTi nidrA sukha].
The sound and undisturbed sleep allays the vata dosha, removes the exhaustion and provides rigorousness to one’s physique [ shrama vRuShya]. On the contrary a disturbed sleep results in the opposite effects like increases the vata dosha, causes exhaustion and makes a person get weakened. .
भूम्यां शय्या वातहरी बृंहणी बलशुक्रकृत् ||३४३||
Sleeping over the floor technically pacifies the vAta, improves ones physical strength and virility by the virtue of its bruhmana (enlivening) property.
खट्वायां वातला दारुप- रूक्षातिवातला |
The sleep over a Khatva or wooden cot due to the exposure to the dryness aggravates the vAta doSha.
आन्दोलिका श्रमहरा चायुष्या वीर्यवर्धनी ||३४४|| वातघ्नं स्वेदहृत् हृद्यं यशस्यं पुष्टिवर्धनम् |
The Andolika / Swing when used for sleeping reduces the physical tiredness, promotes longevity and vigour.
The sleeping over Andolika reduces the vAta doSha, soothes the physique by reducing the sweating, and tones up the heart. Furthermore it promotes the physical bulkiness and fitness [puShTi vardhanam].
तल्पं चैव मेदोघ्नं त्वक्प्रसादनम् ||३४५||
The talpam / sofa / couch provides asperity of health, carves the physique by reducing the corpulence, and improves the texture of skin.
Note on sleep as per Bhojana Kutuhalam
According to Bhojana Kutuhalam eleventh chapter, A person should lie down in supine position for the first eight breaths, then he should sleep on his right side for twice of that number i.e sixteen breaths, later he should sleep on the left side for the twice of the previously mentioned number i.e thirty two breaths and finally he should sleep as per his comfort.
In all the living beings the digestive fire is located on the left side above the navel, hence to promote the metabolism one should lie down on the left side.