A Balance of Darkness & Light For Good Rest
by Nischala Joy Devi.
November 24, 2013
It seems that so many people these days are hungry for some good sleep. Our hectic, fast-paced lives often keep us from taking the time to set the stage for truly refreshing and healing sleep. But being aware of your sleep environment is vital to get the rest you need.
Have a balance of darkness and sunlight filling your bedroom. We sleep deeper and longer when there is darkness. How much more difficult it is to get up in the dark on winter mornings then on bright summer mornings. In the dark, we naturally draw inward for more rest.
Because of our modern way of life we are seldom in the kind of darkness found in the desert. In the desert or anywhere far from the city lights, we gaze in wonder at the infinite roof over our heads. In populated areas, streetlights impede our stargazing—and often our ability to sleep. Unless you are one of the desert dwellers, use a heavy curtain, shade, or blind to block out the evening streetlights. Allow darkness to become a cocoon that wraps you up for a long, deep sleep ahead. In the morning the butterfly can emerge, refreshed.
There is much evidence available to show that the hormone melatonin aides us in deep, restful sleep. This is a hormone naturally produced and secreted by the pineal gland when we are in darkness.
I was once leading a seminar in Italy, and the students requested time after lunch for their customary siesta. Gathering after the rest, we spoke about the fading of this healthy and relaxing custom. Busy lives eliminate unnecessary niceties, even ones bound in tradition. One student spoke up. He was a scientist, and shared evidence to justify the usefulness of the afternoon rest. It had been studied and proven that closing the eyes in darkness and actually touching sleep, for even an instant, released melatonin into the bloodstream. This liberated energy and alertness sustains us for the remainder of the day, a scientific validation for a nap. We spend millions of dollars to prove common sense!
During your waking hours, let light stream into the bedroom. Open the windows fully to aerate the room each day. The sunshine and air allow the staleness, odors, and unwanted thoughts and feelings to vanish. Native Americans use a web circle with feathers called a “dream catcher.” True to their name, dream catchers hold onto bad dreams until they can be released in the morning. By aerating, all unwanted thoughts and dreams are replaced by fresh rejuvenated energy.
When I was teaching in Germany, each break would create an aerating session. Summer or winter, rain or dry would not matter. All doors and windows were flung open and deep breaths were taken. Our minds and bodies were refreshed, alert, and open for the next session of the class. We became like little champagne bottles with the corks popped and ready for action.
That beautiful balance of darkness and light sets the stage for restful sleep and, when we wake, dynamic action.
Photo by Jade | morguefile.com