( By Dr. Krishna Murari Modi )

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2-Avoid Sleepless Nights

Sleep restores energy to the body, particularly to the brain and the nervous system. People who are deprived of sleep lose energy and become quick tempered. After two days without sleep they lose concentration. Many mistakes are made even in their ordinary, routine tasks. Anyone who goes without sleep for three days may have great difficulty thinking, seeing and hearing clearly. He may pass through periods of hallucinations.

Non-sleepers lose contact with reality and begin day dreaming. One may believe that the doctor who has come to treat the patient it in fact the undertaker who has come to bury him. When a person falls asleep, all activity decreases and muscles relax. The heartbeat and breathing rate slow down. As a person sleeps, the brain sends our slower but larger and larger waves (through the electroencephalograph which is used to measure it).

Most adults sleep for 7to 8 1/2 hours every night. Those who work at nights sleep during daytime. Some adults can to only with six hours of sleep. Other require nine. At 60, people may need less than seven hours of sleep. We require both slow-wave sleep and dreaming sleep. Extra sleep of either kind does not make up for a lack of the other.

Slow-wave sleep helps to restore the control of the brain and nervous system over the muscles, glands, and other body systems. Dreaming sleep may be important to keep up with mental activities like learning, reasoning, and emotional adjustment. Scientists are trying to find out why human beings need to sleep and how it restores vigour to the body. For instance, insects do not sleep, they simply rest. Sleep is period of rest during which the sleeper loses awareness of his surrounding. Sleep, unlike coma is easily ended.

Good quality sleep is essential for good health. It will bring down the blood pressure, alleviate allergy, calm down gastric problems. It will soothen nerves. You will get up with a clean mind, full of energy and with a bouncing heart. You will be able to take on physical labour and tension of the day without getting tired.

Many can sleep "like a dog". As soon as they put their head to the pillow, in no time they are in a deep sleep. Sleep does have different depths at different hours of the night. For instance thieves are active always around the early hours of the morning around 2.00am. At this hour most of the people are in deep slumber and noise often does not seem to wake them up.

There are also people who dread nights. Because each night to them is a struggle to get some sleep. The more they struggle and crave for sleep, the more it seems to distance itself and run away. Their sleep is disturbed, they may have snatches for an hours or two and those too are light. They get up tired, morose and literally have to push themselves to do their daily work. In the process, they get tired quickly during the day.

It may happen to a top executive, to a businessman fighting too many problems all the time, to an affluent housewife, to a man overtired with physical labour or even to a girl in her thirties losing her charm fast and finding herself less attractive to boys, and in a hurry to be hooked in marriage. Less sleep produces black circles round the eyes and takes away the shine from the skin thus making it less attractive. Boys who have finished their education and are looking forward to start their career are not able to do so, may not sleep adequately. Sleep is disturbed when you have a maladjusted family. That is, when the wife does not co-operate with the husband. Or the child does not listen to you. If you have taken a loan and are not able to pay it back. Any worry can put you off from sleep.

All of us dream, mostly in the early hours of the morning, when sleep is light. They could be pleasant dreams. Many have difficulty getting sleep and when they do get to sleep they have horrible dreams which turn into nightmares. These dreams are unpleasant. Some see tigers, cats, snakes, or else they find their body falling down from a hill. They feel they are appearing for the exams but are not able to write. They seem to face a great danger not being able to dress up properly or put on their shoes or even walk.

Your legs have gone heavy you are not able to walk, you are trying to run but are not able to put your foot forward. You see the same dream night after night. You wake up tired, morose, without any zeal in the heart, you feel weak as if somebody has drained you of all the energy, the mind is fogged, the head is heavy. You are exhausted and have no enthusiasm to work.

How to get sleep and make it of good quality
The sleeping condition can never be achieved through a personal efforts. It comes of its own accord after the cessation of all mental activities. But you can did it by preparing mentally a good background in an effort to get good quality sleep. Do not go to sleep immediately if you are overtired or tensed up. Take a little more time before you go to bed. Stretch out, loosen you muscles. Have your thoughts concentrated on the aching muscles, try to relax them one by one. Loosen your nerves till the body feels like a crumpled piece of cloth in your own bed. As if you have no muscles no bones. Thoroughly, relax the body. After you have done so, do the same thing with your mind. Do not concentrate on any specific idea, quieten your thoughts, do not try to solve any problem. Try to remove all the ideas, impressions, sensations you had in the day. Do not force the pace, do this quietly as if you are talking and persuading your mind. The mind is malleable. Make a sincere effort. As days of continuous effort go by you will realise you can do much better everytime. If you can master the sleep technique, you will feel relaxed, you will feel the body is like a piece of cloth, you are thoroughly relaxed from toe to head. Just keep yourself in a tranquil condition. You will never realise, when you drop into a restful, refreshing sleep. It may take several days to learn. If you persevere in this exercise you will succeed and one day you will be able to master it. Sleep will be no more be a problem. There are doctors who recommend meditation for five to ten minutes before going to bed. At all costs, avoid taking a sleeping pill even if you cannot get a proper sleep. The sleep you get after swallowing a sleeping pill is not a good quality sleep. Next morning you may have a hang over, feel drowsy and the greatest drawback of all, you may get addicted to the pill, you may not be able to sleep without taking the pill.

There are countless dreams without any connection or interest. The mind is like a television camera. It records all thoughts, experiences, happenings, pleasant moments, dreadful moments, childhood, school days, college days, sorrows and excitements, failures, achievements, tortures done on yourself : all these things come back to you. It is not selective, it records like an unconcerned machine and records all the events whatever comes in its way.

On this mind television recorder you have control when you are aware. It works according to certain logic. When you sleep, your mind with logic also goes to sleep. There is no logic, there is no sequence. This mind television recorder goes haywire in any direction. It flows like a cinema reel in front of you with pictures, sound, everything. You are also a participant to whatever is happening on the screen, You react to the happening, you feel agitated in your mind, you get tensed up, you feel as if the body is bruised. You feel the brunt of all the sequences, but you cannot turn the direction of the sequence: it just happens and you participate in it. It appears that you dream about your unfulfilled desires, sufferings, tortures.

There are no limitations to what you can do can do or what can be done to the body. You may fly like a bird, drive a plane slip from the hill and fall, fight a tiger. Anything is possible. You may meet the worst accident, you may even get killed, but you are there suffering all this mentally and physically. Dreams are not always dreadful. They can be beautiful too. You may be in a park, a seashore, or meet a girl, talk to her, take her out and have momentís pleasure. You get up tired, agitated, bruised even if you get a night emission.

You get up more tired than when you went you went to bed, you feel weak as if some body has extracted all the energy, you feel morose. Many a time dreams linger in the mind even after you wake up, and may fill you with grief and sorrow. A good quality sleep should not allow you to have dreams or to have them at a minimum possible level. You try hard and you can achieve it. It will need time, perseverance and genuine effort.

Simulate your body into a bag of cloth, quieten your mind before you go to sleep. Talk to your brain as if you were talking to another person. Tell it that what you usually dream of are things of the past and have no concern in your life, and you are not going to see them just as if you were drumming it into a childís head, to be obeyed. Do not get agitated or irritated, do this in a polite way clearly, again and again. You will be surprised that in a few days it will start working, you will see less and less dreams.

"If a lie is repeated a hundred times it becomes truth". This formula is used to prove that by mere repetition on radio, television or news magazines we begin believing. Mind is malleable, if you pursue you are bound to succeed. Meditation for five to ten minutes before you go to sleep is recommended. Meditation teaches conscious control on your unconscious mind. I know of a way which has given success to many sufferers. This meditation is called Vippassana meditation. The meditation should always be done through a teacher. It is a practical training like a senior surgeon teaching surgery to juniors. Let me cite a few basic preliminary steps of this Vippassana meditation called Ana-Pan. You can try them at your home. With persistence you are bound to achieve success. The technique is simple, but you do not learn it in a day, if you pursue it may take a week, ten days or even a month to learn. This is a very simple technique.

Lie in your bed comfortably. Preferably, it should be a hard bed. Do not use a pillow, lie flat on your back. This will keep your spine straight. Relaxation will be faster. Imagine your body has been turned into a bag of cloth. Switch off your mind. Make it blank. Feel your breath, concentrate on breath, the air going into your nostrils and going out of them. When it does so it touches the upper lips area around and inside the nostrils. You are breathing all the time but you are hardly aware of it. If you concentrate on breath you will feel the air passing over the upper lips and the area around the nostrils. If you still cannot feel, take a few fast breaths. When you can feel, slow it down, come back to your normal breathing and keep on feeling the touch of air on upper lip on upper lip and nostrils. Gradually your sensitivity will go on increasing, in a few days you will feel the air entering and leaving the nostrils and touching all around. Do it for 10-15 minutes or till you fall asleep. After a few days you will see that your dreams are becoming less and less, and you are able to achieve good quality sleep.

It is like asking a child who is not allowing you to do work, to go up and down the stairs and continue doing so till you tell him to stop. When you go to sleep while feeling the sensations of your breath, this job is taken over from your conscious mind to unconscious mind. The mind will be busy the whole night feeling the sensations of breath and thus forget to dream.

Sleep Rhythm
We all have a cycle of sleep. We get better sleep if we go to sleep at a particular hour. For a few of us this cycle is at 9.00p.m., 10.00p.m. or in few cases it may be as late as 4.00 a.m. People who travel extensively around the world experience it more intensely. Regular air travelers suffer from mild to serious jet lag symptoms. Crossing the time zone is known to disrupt the normal circadium rhythm.

If you have had a late night, you cannot make up for the lost sleep by going to bed early the next night. Researchers at Stanford University and Montefine Hospital in New York have found that the body is not like a battery that needs to be recharged with rest each night. Rather sleeping and wakefulness are related to body temperature. This determines when a person can get proper sleep. If he breaks with the temperature cycle by sleeping early for instance he will have a fitful unsatisfactory rest. And people who sleep long, say sixteen hours, do so because they sleep through two cycles for lack of an effective body wake-up signal.

Hydrotherapy is known to help the insomniacs in a big way. Many treatments are useful to achieve good quality sleep. A relaxed body will help achieve good sleep. The temperature rhythms of the body can be altered with the help of different water treatments.

If you sleep in a room which is overcrowded or poorly ventilated your sleep will not be refreshing. If you live in a congested area or in a noisy and busy road side or beside a railway track, your sleep will be disturbed. The body gets used to noise to a large extent. After a few days the noise does not affect your sleep to a great extent, but if you are a light sleeper it will affect your sleep.

A friend live on the busy Padder Road in Mumbai. His house is on a sleep slope. Any car going uphill has to do so in lower gears and push the accelerator a little harder and make bigger noise. His room, though on the 7th floor, overlooks the road and gets the blast of the street noise the whole night and this is the area, especially due to cars and trucks leaving lot of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Try to live in a quieter place or at least install an air conditioner to improve the situation if you cannot get sleep.

If you cannot sleep, never mind, get up. For example, sit in front of , say a tiny fish aquarium on an easy chair and watch the tiny fishes with bright colours. Try not to think of anything else, watch the fishes coming and going, swimming, gliding, turning, meeting, crossing, chasing one another. Watch them as a child would. A child enjoys these things more easily. He imagines things much faster. You tell the child a story and you can carry him to another world of fantasy and he enjoys it thoroughly. Try to be like a child. Think you are a fish and you are yourself swimming in the water, gliding, turning, changing direction, flicking in a cold and clear water and all this is so pleasant, after a while you will feel drowsy, time to get up and go to bed.

Another method would be to put on a tape a Bhajan, Ghazal or Classical music anything you like most and listen. You will never know when you go into the lovely arms of lady sleep.

Do not invite it, do not crave for sleep, just lie down and relax. It will come on its own. If you are not able to sleep do not get worried because even if you do not sleep the whole night, just lie down and relax for eight hours. It is equal to four hours of deep sleep. Thus you will never suffer due to lack of sleep. It will not hamper your work, so be assured, if you crave for sleep you drive it away. If you have a "I do not care for you" attitude sleep will come faster to you. You have had success with this formula elsewhere why not here.