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The importance of sleep

The importance of sleepThe busier we get, the lower a priority sleep seemingly becomes. As a society, we have come to view ‘powering through’ with little sleep as a sign of strength. Yet sleep is one of the body’s most important physiological processes. Sleep allows both the body and the mind to recharge. It is also a time for the body to repair itself, staving off disease. Without sleep, both physical and cognitive performance are impaired. A chronic lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a poorly functioning immune system in general.

According to Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, patients have one of four temperaments: sanguinous, phlegmatic, melancholic and bilious. Each temperament pairs hot or cold and moist or dry. Temperament affects not only physical appearance and personality, but also a person’s physical needs and predisposition to certain diseases.

While everyone needs sleep, requirements differ across temperaments and age groups. For example, the melancholic and bilious require a minimum of 7-8 hours, while the sanguinous require only 6-7 hours, and the phlegmatic even less at 5-6 hours. Infants and children require more sleep, as do women compared to men. For the elderly, additional sleep is beneficial to overcome the dryness associated with old age.

Sleep and work performance

Have you noticed a decline in your productivity at work? Do you feel your creativity waning? How often do you find yourself working long into the night only to find that presentation or proposal you’ve worked on is mediocre at best?

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For years, there has been a misconception in the work mindset that assumes the longer and harder we work each day, the greater our accomplishments. Unfortunately, the quantity of hours worked does not translate to the quality of work produced. How can we ensure the hours spent at a laptop or in meetings yield the greatest amount of productivity and highest quality outcomes? By getting enough sleep!

It’s no secret that sleep is important for maintaining physical, mental and emotional health. And yet we are faced with a paradoxical relationship between sleep and work: we don’t sleep well when stressed from work, but then become less productive at work due to poor sleep! This exhausting cycle continues until both work productivity and personal health suffer.

The effect of sleep on work performance is well documented in the research. Sufficient sleep has been shown to boost focus, creativity, memory recall, productivity and problem-solving capabilities. And when you sleep, the mind continues to work and make connections that you may not have been able to form during waking hours.

Tips for quality sleep 

  • The best time for sleep is from 10.00 pm until just before sunrise. The saying ‘early to bed and early to rise’ is of value as the freshness of the morning air, free of pollution, is ideal for health.
  • The best posture for sleep is to lie on your right side. This allows food in the stomach to move towards the intestines more easily, and secretions from the pancreas and liver are also facilitated. As the heart is more inclined to the left side of the body, lying on your right decreases pressure on the heart.
  • What and when you eat affects the quality of sleep. Incorporating banana, grapefruit, lettuce, sweet potato, walnut, herbal tea, turkey, some red meat and whole grain into your daily diet can help with insomnia. Dinner should be consumed at least 3 hours before bed, with a walk 30 minutes after to aid digestion.
  • Napping after lunch can be beneficial, but should only last 20-30 minutes, although up to 60 minutes during summer is fine. However, napping should be avoided by melancholic and phlegmatic people.
  • Excessive sleep can give rise to too much cold and moisture in the body, which leads to depleted energy levels, disturbed digestion and metabolism, and a dulling of the mental faculties.
  • For those who have trouble falling asleep, try drinking chamomile tea, taking 5 gr of ashwagandha with warm milk, or applying 5 drops of sweet almond or violet oil to the top of the skull.
  • Set firm work-life boundaries: You may feel that taking work home with you is necessary to finish the job. Perhaps you feel you don’t have a choice. But this practice of blending work and home life will not be helpful for work-life balance, and may disrupt sleep and perpetuate a vicious cycle. Make clear boundaries on what work tasks are acceptable to take home, and designate time to relax and wind down in the evening. This includes turning off message alerts on your phone and not checking emails, which can quickly put you back into work mode.
  •  Limit disruptive habits: Work stressors can lead to self-comforting behaviours in the evening, including emotional eating or drinking alcohol. Although this may provide some temporary relief, it can disrupt quality of sleep and contribute to decreased work efficiency and productivity, thus leading back to the need for comforting habits. Find constructive ways to deal with stress, such as yoga, meditation and breathing, or light physical activity. Talk with a therapist or healthcare professional if you need help managing stress.

About the authors

Dr. Jason Culp, Research & Development Director, Chiva-Som – For the past decade, Dr. Culp has held the position of senior naturopathic physician at Chiva-Som in Hua Hin, where he conducts natural wellness consultations with guests. In addition to his role as naturopath, he is the founder and director of the Research & Development department, with the primary objective of evaluating and exploring the use of evidence-based natural therapies in a holistic wellness setting.

Dr. Culp lectures internationally on the topic of wellness. His philosophy is that in order to create sustainable health, guests must fully engage and play an active participatory role in their own wellness process. The empowerment of the individual and the guest’s authentic understanding of their wellness goals, intentions and motivations take precedence in health and healing. In this way, each guest leaves with the feeling that they are the most powerful advocate in their own wellness journey.

Dr. Mubaris Ahmed T is a Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine cupping therapist. at Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som.  A graduate of the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, he graduated first in his class, going on to win numerous awards in his 14 years of practice. Dr. Mubaris is at the forefront of research and innovation in Eastern therapies, including mind-body work. His trademark patience and compassion has ensured a loyal following of guests. 

Tags: quality sleep, sleep, Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine
Mubaris Ahmed T

Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine cupping therapist,

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