Ideals and Values/Balanced Sleeping and Recreation Habits
How much Sleep do we need?
In teenage years, our bodies are young and they have a lot of stamina and strength. Many teenagers like to stay awake late in the night to do their homework, chat with their friends, text, surf-the net, watch TV, play video games, read and so on. Late nights once in a while are OK. But when you sleep late day after day, it has a negative impact on your health. Sometimes, this negative effect does not show immediately, but it definitely shows up sometime later in your life. Science suggests that we should sleep 7-9 hours every day. Some people need more than 9 hour sleep every day. Others can manage with 6 hours only. But in general, we should not sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours every day. On the other hand, some people sleep just too much. They just lie down in the bed out of laziness even if they are not falling asleep. Thumb rule is that if you have been tossing in the bed for 30 minutes or more without falling asleep, it is time to get up and do some useful work instead of just lying down.
Why do we need Sleep?
Sleep recharges the brain and unclogs it after a day of activity. It is like defragmenting a computer drive, or ‘cleaning’ the drive. When we are awake, the mind is multi-tasking by responding to the activities of all our senses, plus think and analyzing, plus storing information or memory plus keeping our internal organs working. It gets tired too! When we sleep, it only has to keep our organs functioning and so it can repair itself. Sleeping too little can cause severe side-effects on our health. We can get heart disease, inflammation in our body, acid reflux, bad breath, suffer from inattentiveness, irritableness and so on.
What is the best time to sleep?
Also, studies have shown that the best time to sleep is actually the night-time and not the day-time. People who work in night-shifts and therefore sleep in day time have a greater possibility of getting fatigued. In fact, night-shift workers are given a slightly higher pay for this reason. There is almost a stereotype that smugglers, gangsters, mafia and so on party late into the night. You’d hardly ever hear someone say that smugglers habitually get up early in the morning! Hindu scriptures teach us that to advance spiritually, we should follow the dictum “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” Early morning, just before the sunrise, the environment is relatively pollution free, there is hardly any surrounding noise and the mind is full of positive energy. This is the best time to meditate and study scriptures or recite our prayers. Therefore, if we want to advance spiritually or even materially, we should cultivate the habit of sleeping a good 7-9 hours regularly, going to bed early and getting up a little before sunrise if possible.
What are the mean reasons that keep you awake late into the night? What changes will you do in your life to make sure that you can sleep on time and wake up early in the morning?
Healthy Recreation Habits
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” according to a proverb. We all need rest and diversion from our daily activities. We can get recreation through exercise, sports, reading books, watching television, talking to friends etc.
But in all these cases, once again, Kṛṣṇa advises us to be balanced in the Bhagavad Gitā. The purpose of recreation is to recharge our minds and bodies so that we can practice our work again. Even exercise should be done on moderation, depending on the needs and the capacity of our own body. Scriptures of Hindu medicine (Ayurveda) even specify how many push-ups etc we should do to derive the optimum benefit. Too much exercise can even have a detrimental effect not only on the physical but also on the mental health. On the other hand, no recreation can make us sick mentally and physically. When we participate in a recreation activity or exercise, our body releases endomorphins, that make our brain feel ‘happy’ and promotes positive moods, in addition to strengthening our heart and other organs.
Why should kids limit their time on TV?
Watching TV is a passive act. We see and hear whatever is given to us on the screen involuntarily for hours while watching a TV. We do not have a freedom to think creatively or make a ‘choice’ while doing so. Watching TV excessively also takes us far away from the real world. We start believing that whatever is being shown in the TV is what really happens in real life, which is evidently not true. Therefore, prolonged addiction to TV can distort our intellect and thinking.