By- Dr. Pradeep Neupane (B.A.M.S.)
It is a well known factor that to have a restful sleep is very important for the normal biological function. It is considered in Ayurveda that the quality and quantity of our sleep is as essential to our health and well-being as our dietary habits. The right amount of restful sleep affords our bodies and minds not only an opportunity to be restored, but time to absorb and assimilate the day’s intake. There are processes that occur during sleep that can’t be reproduced while we are awake.
Ayurveda explains that we are under the constant influence of the essential forces of nature called doshas. Each dosha consists of specific elemental qualities that affect us according to personal, daily and seasonal rhythms. Ayurveda teaches that there is a certain period of the day that is optimal for sleeping and that the amount of sleep we need varies individually and even seasonally.
Sleeplessness is called nidranasha in Sanskrit which may include an inadequate amount of sleep and/or poor quality of sleep. Occasional lack of sleep may leave us tired the next day, but chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a decline in our physical and mental health. Lack of adequate sleep interferes with the ability of our bodily systems to repair and rejuvenate. Without sufficient rest our digestion, metabolism, cell regeneration, emotional balance, creativity, mental clarity and motor skills are impaired.
There are a number of factors that can inhibit sound sleep including lifestyle, environmental stimuli, travel, health disorders, and our emotional and mental states. In our modern ‘24-hour world’ we can work and play whenever we choose, but we are still intrinsically regulated by the cycles of nature. Ayurveda proposes that the more we align ourselves with nature’s rhythms, in accordance with our individual nature, the more we will experience life in balance.
Ayurvedic recommendations that promote sound sleep:
- Maintain a regular daily self-care routine, including garshana (dry brushing), abhyanga, (oiling body) nasya (nasal oiling), asana, pranayama, vyayama (activity/exercise), meditation and time in nature.
- Make the last meal of the day easily digestible, light, and nourishing. Allow 2 to 3 hours between eating and going to bed. Lie down on left side to assist further digestion.
- Follow a regular routine of going to bed in the kapha time of the evening between 8 and 10 p.m., and wake up in the vata time of the morning before sunrise.
- Create a pre-bedtime routine, including abhyangafollowed by soaking in a warm bath with Himalayan salt or a taking warm shower; calming yoga asanas, pranayama, visualization and meditation; and drinking a cup of warm spiced milk or calming herbal tea.
- Maintain the sleep hygiene by creating a bedroom that is clean, uncluttered, comfortable and peaceful. Use soothing colors and soft textures. Avoid watching TV, using a computer, talking on the telephone or eating in this room.
- At the bedside: Apply sesame oil to feet (wear socks or remove excess oil with cloth). Apply brahmi– and sandalwood-infused sesame oil on the top of head and/or forehead. Spray lavender on bed pillow. Sit and connect with the breath. Consciously release the details of the day, surrendering to this time of restoration.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep: For vata mental activity (fluctuating, fantasy, worry): use color visualization to ‘entertain’ the mind into a calm and steady place. For pitta mental activity (planning, analyzing, fixing): allow the mind to be purposeful on the ‘pressing point’ for a few moments, see ‘it’ in its perfect and highest state; then after a job well done, give the mind another purpose of following a mantra or counting the breath with exhalations twice as long as inhalations.
- Vata types should sleep on their backs (balancing lunar and solar energy), pitta types on their right sides (breathing in lunar energy) and kapha types on their left sides (breathing in solar energy).
- Avoid naps in late afternoon and vigorous exercise in the evening.
Visiting a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for a consultation will determine your doshic constitution and provide personal recommendations.
Dr. Pradeep Neupane (B.A.M.S.) is a-
Clinical Director at-
Vibrant Ayurveda Wellness Center
He can be contacted at-
Ph: 7-38462272, 0452506389