Good sleep is not just about getting rid of those bags under the eyes and feeling refreshed when you wake up. Chronically poor sleep can have serious consequences. Increased accidents and injuries, mental fogginess, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are just a few. Along with food and energy management, sleep is considered one of the three pillars of health in Ayurveda, making it an essential component of any good health routine.
Importance of Sleep
There are certainly lots of reasons why people don’t sleep well. Chronic pain, night sweats, restless leg syndrome, teeth grinding, snoring (your own or your partner’s), Sleep Apnea and general worry due to stress are some of the most common. Obviously, we don’t have the time to address solutions to all of these in this brief blog. There is, however, one seed of Ayurvedic wisdom that can help everyone.
Begin winding down your mind by 9:00 pm each night so you fall asleep by 10 pm.
Why is this so beneficial? Ayurveda recognizes the wisdom of following the natural rhythms of life. During a normal daily cycle, the three doshas (powers or forces) are constantly transitioning. Vata, Pitta and Kapha all take turns being dominant during certain four-hour windows. While they are dominant, the energetic qualities of each dosha have greater influence on you. Ayurvedically speaking, it only makes sense to go with the flow rather than try to fight “Mother Nature.”
The Ayurvedic body clock looks like this:
6 pm – 10 pm (Kapha is the strongest) – quieter time, energy is starting to wean to prepare for sleep – cortisol levels decline so you can relax
10 pm – 2 pm (Pitta is the strongest) – mental and physical detoxing takes place as you process your thoughts and emotions from the day and clear out any toxins you may have encountered. If you are awake during this entire window, you miss out on your body’s natural detox time and you aren’t as fresh when you wake up, no matter how many hours of sleep you get.
2 pm – 6 am (Vata is the strongest) – the nervous system is heightened so the mind moves faster and sleep tends to be lighter. If you are awake, your mind will whir or you may experience epiphanies; if you are sleeping, you tend to dream more.This is typically the time when people have trouble falling back to sleep if they are experiencing insomnia.
6 am – 10 am (Kapha is the strongest!) – no matter how restless the night was, by morning most people feel calmer and more stable. If you slept well, you are naturally ready to wake up, assisted by rising cortisol levels. If you didn’t sleep well, the cares and concerns of the nighttime often drift away allowing you to fall into a deeper sleep that may make it hard to get out of bed.
By working with nature instead of against it and falling asleep by approximately 10:00 pm, you will reap the benefits of your body’s natural nightly detox. As a result, you will wake up feeling cleansed, rested and ready to face the day. Following such a routine on a regular basis, including weekends, helps the body’s time clock stay in rhythm. A well-synchronized body clock supports all of the functions of the body, including hormonal, temperature, digestive and mental balance and wake/sleep states.
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The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.