How Ayurveda Can Help You Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most essential processes of life, crucial to not just our bare survival, but also to our physical health and cognitive functioning. When we sleep, our bodies remove metabolic waste, repair and regenerate tissue, flush out adenosine (a neuromodulator whose accumulation during the day induces feelings of tiredness and fatigue), heal wounds and support the immune system. Research has shown how sleep also shapes our ability to form new neural pathways and to retain and consolidate memories; in addition, evidence suggests that sleep enables us to process our emotions and experiences, contributing to our overall emotional wellbeing. Sleep is vital for the quality of our everyday life and for our long-term health; when we get good sleep, we feel emotionally and physically rejuvenated and serene.
Despite how good a night of deep sleep feels, many of us often struggle with getting consistent, regular sleep. Whether we’re overstimulating our minds at bedtime, staying up late to finish up work or struggling with insomnia, there are a wide range of reasons why we experience disrupted sleep. Furthermore, each individual’s relationship to sleep is uniquely informed by their constitution, and combating sleep deprivation requires paying close attention to one’s own bodily imbalances.
In Ayurveda, each dosha is characterized by different sleep tendencies; disturbances in our sleep are also attributed to our dosha, and there also exist dosha-specific methods for treating these disturbances. Understanding sleep through your dosha can thus empower you to both identify the source of your sleep imbalances and to implement effective solutions for boosting the quality of your sleep. (If you’re not sure what your dominant dosha is, you can take our dosha quiz here.)
Dosha-Specific Sleep Imbalances and Remedies
Given their active and fast-paced nature, Vatas tend to struggle with light, irregular sleep. Vatas therefore tend to wake up in the middle of the night and get fewer hours of sleep than is optimal for them.
To alleviate the irregular nature of their sleep, it’s essential for Vatas to participate in calming, anxiety- and tension-relieving practices before bed. One way to do so is by practicing self-massage, which releases tension in both the mind and body, promoting overall tranquility and calm. Establishing a calming breathing or meditation practice before bed is also a powerful method for clearing the mind and recentering the self. Vatas can also try making golden milk, a soothing turmeric-based drink that alleviates anxiety and combats insomnia.
Pittas tend to have relatively uninterrupted sleep, and when they wake up in the middle of the night they find that they can return to sleep easily. However, Pittas often struggle with falling asleep in the first place, given the overactive nature of their minds. In fact, Pittas dedication to their projects can cause them to stay up at night working rather than going to sleep.
To promote a peaceful process of falling asleep, Pittas should limit activities that require high levels of mental engagement before bed. Instead, they should aim to unwind mentally, either by journaling, drinking golden milk or engaging in a soothing spiritual practice.
Kaphas tend to be heavy sleepers, and they don’t tend to wake easily. In fact, Kaphas, when imbalanced, may struggle with oversleeping, which causes them to wake up feeling sluggish and groggy. Perhaps unintuitively, despite their tendencies, Kaphas actually need less sleep than Vatas and Pittas.
For Kaphas, it’s important to set a regular sleep schedule and to wake up at the same time each morning to prevent against oversleeping. The Kapha element is elevated from 6am-10am, which makes it more difficult to get out of bed, so it’s actually best for Kaphas to wake up by 6am. In addition, Kaphas should try to incorporate exercise into their daily routine to feel lighter and more rejuvenated throughout the day. (For more information on how to exercise for your dosha, check out our blog post here.)
For those who are interested in other Ayurvedic wellness products for inducing sleep, our Pure Rest Wellness Incense and Pure Rest Wellness Oil are formulated with soothing Ayurvedic ingredients like vetiver, calamus and ashwagandha to promote deep, restful sleep and tranquility.