Good Sleep? My Advice – Don’t Listen to Any.

Even if a fraction of what appears as Health tips in WhatsApp is true, hospitals will run out of business and doctors will lose their jobs. Dr. Mohan Ram and other people from medical profession will have to look for new profession albeit little late in their lives. I will get to that in a moment. First let us see if we can sleep without any advice.

A message appeared in WhatsApp today,  in about five hundred words, asking us to sleep on the right side to get proper sleep and attain nirvana. I replied saying only last week I saw message on the virtues of sleeping on the left side and the message was as big as this. I wondered which is true. Naga shot back saying I should write a blog on why should we sleep. It is obvious that we need to sleep but on which side?

I always read something before falling into sleep which has been a habit for decades. Ever since I switched to reading from iPad, I started reading on iPad which gave me variety of choices from fiction to trivia, from poems to biographies. And I was also subscribing to The Economist. By the time I was half way into the second page on European Currency crisis or why Oil prices are going down or up, I fell asleep. Worked perfectly. That was till last week. A news item in BBC or Indian Express said reading from Phone or iPad is very bad for eyes and the sleep will be disturbed. It said the LED is bad for eyes, the luminescence coming out of the display can blind your eyes so on so forth. Fearing I may go blind in the next six months if I continue read from iPad, I tried to retrieve the books I kept in the loft and strained my back in the process. I have saved my eyes from the evils of iPad reading but will live with strained back for months.

My theory about sleep is bit simple. Different people need different hours of sleep. My dad slept longer and my mother slept shorter hours. Whereas my father fiddled with music and reading to fall asleep, mother hit the pillow and fell asleep in minutes. But the sleep King rather Queen title belonged to my aunt ‘The Santa Claus Chitti.’ She could fall into deep sleep even before her head hit the pillow.

JK is a poor sleeper right from his college days. He sleeps the shortest, but he is able to walk/jog six to ten kilometres in the morning before arriving at the office relatively early. He used the COVID work from home routine to get back into ‘shape.’ I really don’t understand what he meant by getting back into shape as he was already reed thin and in good health. For a period of two years and two months, he followed a strict routine of running in the morning without missing a day. He sleeps at least an hour and half less than me. 

I think our bodies figure out the rhythm, the duration, the direction and the posture by itself and we need not spend sleepless nights poring over books and magazines and all important WhatsApp messages to figure out the how, what and when of sleeping.

This reminds me about direction of sleeping. It is generally said that your head should not be facing North while sleeping. Poles and magnetic forces etc. can ruin not only your sleep but your brain as well. May be there is an element of truth in this. It probably would have worked before the industrial revolution and advent of lamps fired by oil after which the difference between day and night diminished. I have spent close to half of my life time travelling and sleeping in thousands of hotels. I am not sure if  all the beds in all the hotels I slept faced east or west. I just arrived in a hotel late in the night, had dinner and fell asleep without checking the direction of headstead. Even I wanted to, I could not have checked the direction in the night. At least not until the advent of smart phone which had compass. But then, even I if I had figured out that the bed is facing north, what could I have done? Hotel won’t accept request for change of room just because I don’t like the direction. I would be lucky if they have provided me proper pillows let alone a bed facing east or west. 

Coming back to WhatsApp tips on health. There are at least a million messages floating in WhatsApp in Tamil and English alone on what to do first in the morning to have long and healthy life and to avoid doctors. I am sure a billion messages must be floating around from Traditional Chinese to Tahiti language with similar health guidelines. Most of the message would quote from Scriptures to Sleep apnea specialists on what should you do first thing in the morning. Someone would urge you to eat fenugreek seeds soaked overnight. Next you will see a message that asks you to grind eight different herbs for eight hours, mix them and swallow the mixture first thing in the morning. It would make you feel guilty that you have wasted fifty years of your life by drinking coffee in the morning. You would fall in the guilt trap for few days and then realise, you were doing well all these years with a strong coffee on empty stomach and you can get along with rest of your life just fine by ignoring these messages.

Mohan sent me a message a couple of weeks back which said that afternoon nap is bad for health. I replied, ‘Oh yeah. Look at mother. She has been having a short nap in the afternoon for the last sixty plus years, and she is doing just fine.’ I then asked him not to forward the message to her. She has been doing fine without any advice on sleep all these years. Why spoil it? 






6 thoughts on “Good Sleep? My Advice – Don’t Listen to Any.

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  1. Chinese officially take a nap after lunch at their desk and according to them, it is good for health.

    I noticed this in Shanghai several years ago


  2. Excellent blog Ramesh. Generally what works for one , may or need not written for the other. Generalising everything and converting them into information overload has become a Bane. As you have said, these advices keep changing and the only result they achieve is confuse the common people. My most favourite one has been oil. We all used different oils for different applications based on what the previous generation used, till all the advice started. They adviced we stop ground nut oil and use sunflower oil, followed by rice bran, olive et all. Most recently i heard that it is not at all healthy to use oil extracted from seeds. So the sun flower oil fired out of the market, and so on.
    My take is have what our previous generation had, as long as there is no issue of allergy. Fine tune to match it reasonably to what you burn. My take, do everything in moderation, feel happy and eave the rest to destiny.


    1. நம் மனதிற்கு பிடித்த பாடல்களை கேட்டுக் கொண்டே தூங்கிடுவது ஒரு சுகம் என்றால் நமக்கு பிடித்த விஷயங்களை கற்பனை செய்து கொண்டே தூங்கிடுவது இன்னொரு வகை சுகம்,உடல் அலுக்க வேலை செய்து படுக்க வருபவர்களுக்கு இவை இன்றியே நன்றாக தூங்கிடுவர்,இதில் எந்த பக்கம் படுத்தால் என்ன காலையில் எழுந்திருக்கும் போது மாறி தான் இருக்கும்

      தேவையான தூக்கத்தை பற்றி கண்ணதாசனும்

      அதிக தூக்கத்தால் வரும் துன்பங்களை பட்டுக்கோட்டையாரும் நமக்கு சொல்லி தந்திருக்கிறார்கள்

      ஒரு தமாஷுக்கு சொன்னா உடனே ப்ளாக் எழுதுவதெல்லாம் கொஞ்சம் ஓவர் தான் 😁


  3. All I know is sleeping left side will help in digestion. We all have a habit of sleeping after dinner. We need to eat early dinner and sleep after 2 to 3 hours in which we can sleep any side. I do agree with jayakanth that better we follow our elders in oil or food habits. Our body is based on our genes and the weather we all live our life.


  4. Very well said Babu. Sleep is a varaprasadam. I can sleep anywhere any time. As long as you feel rested after a good night sleep that is enough


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