According to Ayurveda, sleep is based on your ayurvedic type, and it is a basic instinct of life and essential to all living beings. We must rejuvenate and re-energize our body, mind, and spirit.
Sleep, known as Nidra in Ayurveda, is one of the three pillars of good health. Then there’s the food (ahara) and the sex (brahmacharya).
A healthy life needs a proper balance of these three elements. In this article, learn about your sleep based on your ayurvedic type:
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, also known as Ayurvedic medicine, is thought to have arisen in the Indian subcontinent about 5,000 years ago. Since then, it has been practiced and is now used worldwide, often as a complement to allopathic or conventional Western medicine.
According to Ayurveda, each person has a unique constitution, a combination of mental, physical, and emotional energies. Though each of our constitutions is different, they are all made up of three basic types of energy known as doshas. Each dosha governs a different aspect of the body, mind, emotions, and experience.
The Sleep Zone
Because of its dense, slow, and heavy energy, Kapha time is perfect for falling (and being) asleep.
It occurs at two separate times of the day: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Getting to bed by 10 p.m., as suggested by Ayurveda, helps you to make the best use of the strong and slow energy of Kapha to sleep.
Guidelines for different doshas
For sleep based on your ayurvedic type, Ayurveda suggests various lifestyle changes to improve sleep.
Excess Vata refers to excess wind, which has qualities of lightness, movement, and roughness.
Individuals with aggravated Vata can consume foods that increase Kapha in the body. This will boost the heaviness, stillness, and smoothness.
According to Lineesha K.C., an Ayurvedic physician at Greens Ayurveda in Kerala, people with high Vata can eat heavy and rejuvenating foods. This may include:
- Coconut milk
- Meaty soups and stews
- Butter and ghee
- Rice porridge
K.C. suggests the following recipe:
- 8 oz warm milk (preferably one with a high-fat content)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 pods cardamom
- A sweetener, such as jaggery or honey (optional)
Ayurvedic health coach and director of Ayur Wellness & Pain Centre Varalakshmi Yanamandra suggest eating warm foods such as red rice and meat soup.
You can have difficulty sleeping if your Vata is aggravated.
Your body needs nourishment to pacify Vata. Foot massage or full body abhyanga massage with calming oils such as Mahanarayan Thailam or Brahmi oil helps in sleep. For head massage, use Dhanwantharam Thailam or sesame oil.
Excessive activity can stimulate Vata. If your Vata is high, try to avoid watching television, using your phone an hour before bedtime, and avoiding exercising in the evening.
Keep your bedroom dark and well-ventilated for a relaxing night’s sleep. Scented candles with scents like chamomile, lavender, sweet orange, or eucalyptus may also help.
Steps to pacify Vata:
- Nourish the body and mind with an oil massage.
- Eat warm foods such as meat soup and warm milk.
- Reduce activity, especially an hour before bedtime.
- Use soothing scents such as chamomile, lavender, and sweet orange.
- Ensure that the bedroom is properly ventilated.
If you have a high pitta, you can have difficulty falling asleep if the work stress is high or your diet contains too much acid.
Food for pitta
Eat cooling foods like fresh fruits and dates and have a moderate to heavy dinner to pacify pitta.
Pitta-dominant people have a strong digestive fire. So you can wake up hungry in the middle of the night if you go to bed without eating.
If pittas eat an early dinner and are still hungry when it is time to go to bed, a small snack of puffed rice or a glass of buttermilk is recommended.
Yanamandra recommends mixing a teaspoon of Jeevantyadi Gritam or medicated ghee into an eight-ounce glass of warm milk.
Sleep for pitta
According to Yanamandra, pitta people can sleep a little later, by 11 p.m.
A foot massage with warm ghee is recommended for better sleep. Sleep in a cool, well-ventilated room, with sweet, cooling essential oils like jasmine and rose and a light blanket over your body.
A cool oil, such as bhringaj or amla, may be used for a head massage.
Steps to pacify pitta:
- Before going to bed, drink warm milk with ghee.
- Favor sweet scents such as jasmine and rose.
- Get into bed by 11 p.m.
- Try massaging your feet with warm ghee.
- Eat cooling foods such as fresh fruit and dates.
These people have a lot of earth and water in their bodies.
The Kapha diet should include refreshing and warming items, such as vegetable soup and bitter greens. Dinner should be free of sweets. A short walk after dinner can aid digestion. It is also beneficial for Kapha types to do vigorous exercise in their daily routine.
Regular dry brushing and udvartana, or dry powder massage, with a combination of herbs, can also help Kapha people improve their metabolism.
Kapha-dominant people are usually heavy sleepers who can oversleep. Set an early wake-up time and stick to it if you have excess Kapha.
Warming and invigorating oils like eucalyptus, rosemary, and ginger are perfect for scents.
Steps to pacify Kapha:
- Get up early to pacify Kapha.
- Eat foods that are light, warm, and bitter, such as vegetable soups and bitter greens.
- Avoid eating sweets after dinner.
- After dinner, go for a short walk to help with digestion.
- Exercise regularly
- Choose refreshing scents such as eucalyptus, rosemary, and ginger.
Though each dosha has a particular impact on sleep habits and imbalances, we all need quality sleep. Ayurveda will help us identify our natural tendencies and distinguish them from our specific vulnerabilities to various sleep imbalances.
Moreover, Ayurveda has a lot to tell on how to support healthy sleep in general. Simple changes to routine, exercise, diet, and lifestyle patterns can also significantly impact sleep.
In fact, in today’s world, for sleep based on your ayurvedic type, modern medicine is adopting many of Ayurveda’s lifestyle strategies for sleep disorder treatment. Herbs may also be used to help in the return of balance. An Ayurvedic practitioner can be hugely helpful in determining the best techniques for your particular situation. That said, our guides are specifically designed to assist you in understanding and correcting your current imbalances. Simply decide whether you are prone to sleep deprivation or excessive sleep.
Remember that you do not need to be experiencing disordered sleep right now to start correcting the imbalances underlying your tendencies. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that can help us correct the root cause of our imbalances at any time, whether or not we are actually experiencing symptoms.
Sleep Do’s and Don’ts
Without counting a single sheep, Ayurveda has a few simple tips for making sleeping a little easier.
- Per day at the same time, get up and go to bed. This helps to calm the mind.
- Create a nighttime routine—spend an hour or so before bedtime, wind down, and relax. Avoid active and stimulating habits (T.V.V., computers, smartphones, work) in favor of quiet and relaxing ones (meditation, gentle breathing exercises, etc.).
- Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine before going to bed.
- Before going to bed, massage the feet and temples with warm sesame oil.
- Do some gentle yoga postures before going to bed.
The Bottom Line
Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine that stresses the importance of a good balance of food, sleep, and sex.
The three doshas and the Ayurvedic clock are closely linked to better sleep. Adhering to the clock is not always possible in our modern lifestyle. These tips can help you strike a balance.