Ayurveda describes sleep as a basic instinct of life, essential to all living beings. We need it to rejuvenate and reenergize our body, mind, and spirit. In Ayurveda, sleep is one of the three pillars of good health, known as nidra. Then there’s food (ahara) and sex (brahmacarya). The right balance of these three elements is required for a healthy life.
Type of sleep
According to Ayurveda, sleep and other bodily functions are determined by the three constitutional types, or doshas. The three doshas are:
- vata (wind)
- pitta (fire)
- kapha (water and earth).
Sleep is dominated by kapha, which creates the heavy feeling of tiredness. Charaka Samhita, the ancient Sanskrit text on Ayurveda, mentions six types of sleep. According to the text, sleep may be due to:
- natural sleep without external imbalances
- increased kapha caused by eating an excess of foods like chocolate, cheese, or fried food
- exhaustion of mind and body caused by excessive physical work
- chronic disease
- imbalance or injury in the body
The ayurvedic clock
Natural sleep follows the Ayurvedic clock, which focuses on the right time to sleep, the duration of sleep, and the ideal time to wake up. In Ayurveda, a day is divided into 6 zones of 4 hours, each dominated by a single dosha: According to the Ayurvedic clock, it’s best to wake up before sunrise and sleep before 10 p.m., when the kapha period has induced dullness in the body. It’s also important to have a gap of at least 2 hours between dinner and sleep time. An ideal time for dinner is 7 p.m. If you’re eating a late dinner, aim for something light and eat 2 hours before you go to sleep.
Guidelines for different doshas
Ayurveda suggests different lifestyle changes to improve sleep depending on your dominant doshas.VataExcess vata means excess wind, which has the qualities of lightness, movement, and roughness.Vata food It’s important for individuals with aggravated vata to eat foods that increase kapha in the body. This will increase the qualities of heaviness, stillness, and smoothness.People with high vata should consume heavy and rejuvenating food, says Lineesha K.C., an Ayurvedic physician at Greens Ayurveda in Kerala. This can include:
- coconut milk
- meaty soups and stews
- butter and ghee
- rice porridge
K.C. recommends the following recipe:
- 8-oz warm milk (preferably a type that’s high in fat)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 pods cardamom
- some form of sweetener, like jaggery or honey (optional)
Varalakshmi Yanamandra, Ayurvedic health coach and director of Ayur Wellness & Pain Centre, suggests eating warm food like red rice and meat soup. If you have aggravated vata, you may have difficulty sleeping. Vata sleep To pacify vata, your body needs nourishment. Foot massage or full body abhyanga massage with cooling oils like Mahanarayan Thailam or brahmi oil helps with better sleep. Dhanwantharam Thailam or sesame oil should be used for head massage. Vata may get stimulated by too much activity. Try to avoid watching television and using your phone an hour before bedtime and avoid exercising in the evening if your vata is high. For peaceful sleep, properly ventilate your bedroom and keep it dark. Lighting scented candles like chamomile, lavender, sweet orange, or eucalyptus can also help.
When it comes to sex, vata types do best with loving, nourishing intimacy. Multiple partners, vigorous sex, and frequent orgasms may be a bit much for the vata nervous system. Getting affection and rest post-sex is important too.