Beauty and Sleep
It has been said that the whole of ayurveda is aimed at maximizing the production and maintenance of ojas.
A healthy, glowing face and a brightly-burning light in the eyes — the glow of radiant health — is something that is universally appealing and desirable. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, this radiance and luster around the body is called ojas. Optimum ojas is the key to perfect health, balanced and blissful emotions, and even the unfolding of inner spiritual development. Ojas promotes longevity and is an internally generated antidote to aging, according to Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf. It is the product of perfectly functioning digestion and metabolism. A high amount of ojas means everything we eat is transformed into toxin-free energy, creating a vibrantly alert and blissful state of mind and emotions.
While we sleep, our body is anything but inactive. The hormone of the night, melatonin, peaks, stimulating restorative sleep and immunity. Growth hormone soars, stimulating strengthening and repair of muscles and bones. The digestive tract has its own "sleep" cycle, eliminating wastes and toxins that might interfere with healthy, glowing skin. Even our sleeping brain is at work, processing memories and restoring neurochemicals vital to a happy mood and face.
Maharishi Ayurveda maintains that adequate sleep is essential to good health, and is one of the three pillars of health — sleep, diet and spiritual development (Brahmacharyi). What is good for health is good for beauty, as true beauty is simply an outward reflection of one's inner health and wholeness.
"Beauty sleep," according to Maharishi Ayurveda, includes not only enough sleep — with 7-8 hours being optimal for most people — but at the right times, and supported by the proper diet and routine during the day.
Just missing a few good nights of sleep makes it clear how health, beauty, mood and productivity during the day are profoundly affected by how well we sleep at night. What is less obvious is how the routine we keep during the day, including our eating habits, work schedule and exercise all impact the quality of our sleep at night — and how fresh and beautiful we look in the morning.
Many women notice that either the night has left them looking more fresh and beautiful than the night before, or heaven forbid, new wrinkles, dark circles, puffiness, breakouts and other beauty-busters have cropped up overnight. The time-tested wisdom of Maharishi Ayurveda provides a wealth of insights into how we can adjust our daily habits to wake up looking our very best.
First, here are some common sleep-disrupting, beauty-busting habits to avoid and why:
- Staying up past 10:00 PM. This aggravates Vata and Pitta, and can promote skin dryness, redness, and a drawn, tired look the next day.
- Sleeping past 6:00 AM. This aggravates Kapha, and promotes fluid-retention, puffiness and a dull or "pasty" look.
- Eating cheese, yogurt or meat, or any heavy meal in the evening. This can promote sinus congestion and puffy or dark circles under the eyes (as well as stiff neck or achy joints).
- Using your cell phone or computer late into the evening. This aggravates Vata and Pitta, suppresses or delays melatonin secretion and can result in poor sleep, skin redness, rashes and irritability.
- Drinking lots of coffee and other caffeinated beverages. They can interfere with good sleep, as well as dehydrating your body and skin, enhancing wrinkles.
- Vigorous exercise too late at night. This can aggravate Vata and Pitta and lead to light, restless sleep that does not leave you looking or feeling rejuvenated. An evening walk after dinner and in the early morning is an ideal foundational routine. Any vigorous exercise is best completed by 8:00 PM at the latest.
To wake up fresh and beautiful from your sleep, be sure to follow these "beauty sleep" tips from Maharishi Ayurveda. And be prepared to answer the question "What are you doing? You look so good!"
- Go to bed by 9:45 PM and arise by 6:00 AM.
- Avoid computer and cell phone after 9:00 PM.
- Eat a light, vegetarian evening meal without cheese or yogurt, by 7:00 PM.
- Take an early-morning walk in the rising sun. It is one of the best-kept secrets to beauty.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.