Sleep is one of the pillars of Ayurveda, and is considered to be as important as diet in maintaining health and balance in the body. Sleep is the time when the body is able to repair and heal itself. The mind and emotions also become balanced through sleep.
Types of Sleep Imbalances
There are actually three major types of sleep imbalances according to Ayurveda, caused by imbalances in Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha.
Vata sleep imbalance occurs when the coordination between dhi, dhriti and smriti (learning, retention and recall) becomes weak. In this case, the mind becomes identified with the objects of the senses. If you are trying to fall asleep and your mind is thinking about all the events of the day and reproducing the feelings and emotions that accompanied them, it is unable to detach and rest properly in sleep. Either you won't be able to fall asleep, or your sleep will be so light and restless that you'll wake up tired.
A Pitta sleep disorder occurs when you have no problem falling asleep, but you wake up in the early morning hours and cannot go back to sleep for quite a while. People who are experiencing an emotional trauma in their lives or people with an imbalance in Pitta are prone to this type of sleep disorder.
A Kapha-related sleep disorder occurs when a person sleeps long and deeply, but feels exhausted when he or she wakes up. Worse, a lethargic, dull feeling continues throughout the day.
How to Combat a Vata Sleep Imbalance
- Avoid too much stimulation at night.
- Oil Massage for your hands and feet.
- Let go of body tension. It helps to have the attitude of total surrender when going to bed.
- Let go of your problems. Bedtime is not the time to try to solve your problems.
- Take Blissful Sleep tablets.
During the Day:
- Eat foods that balance Vata.
- Schedule your day so you can eat three warm, cooked meals, with the biggest meal at noon. Eat dinner before 7:00 p.m., so it has time to digest before bed.
- Go to bed well before 10:00 p.m., if possible by 9:30. This allows you to use the sleepy, duller Kapha time of night to help you fall asleep.
- If you are facing mental worries or mental stress in your life, take Worry Free tablets. This is a powerful way to calm your mind without creating sleepiness during the day.
Tips for a Pitta-Related Sleep Imbalance
- Take Deep Rest. This herbal formula is made especially for this particular problem of waking up in the early morning hours and being unable to fall back asleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool while sleeping. Leave the window slightly open, or turn down the heat a few degrees. Research shows that people sleep deeper in a slightly cool environment. If the bedroom is too hot and stuffy, it increases the likelihood of night awakening.
- Use cooling aroma oil like Sandalwood and lavender when you go to bed.
During the Day
- Eat more sweet, juicy fruits.
- Eat Pitta-pacifying foods. The Pitta-pacifying diet involves eating more sweet, bitter and astringent foods.
- While ayurveda recommends cooked instead of raw foods, a person with a Pitta imbalance will probably want foods and drinks served room temperature rather than steaming hot.
- If you feel hungry in the late afternoon and need a snack, have a cup of warm almond milk (boil milk and cool to drinkable temperature) with Rose Petal Preserve.
- Follow a Pitta-pacifying lifestyle. One of the most important keys to sleeping well for a person with a Pitta imbalance is to fall asleep before 10:00 p.m.
- For Pitta imbalances, it's important to eat a large enough evening meal, so you don't feel hungry before bed.
- Other Pitta-pacifying lifestyle choices include eating three meals a day, at the same time every day, with the largest meal at noon. Skipping or delaying meals can throw Pitta out of kilter.
- Avoid getting overheated when you exercise, and avoid exercising in the sun. Choose cooling sports such as swimming, skiing, hiking in shaded areas or moonlight walks.
Tips for a Kapha Sleep Disorder
During the Day
- Rise before 6:00 a.m. Sleeping past dawn, into the Kapha time of the morning (6:00-10:00 a.m.) causes ama to accumulate in the shrotas and creates a dull, tired feeling when you awaken.
- Gradually decrease coffee consumption. Instead, drink Kapha Tea or green tea.
- Eat a Kapha-pacifying diet. This includes avoiding desserts, especially heavy, cold sweets such as ice cream.
- Follow Kapha-pacifying lifestyle tips. Vigorous exercise is essential for balancing Kapha. The best time to exercise is during the Kapha time of the morning (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.).
- Breathe deeply and easily while exercising and throughout the day.
- Drink Kapha Tea. This will reinforce the body's efforts to remove ama, and invigorate the whole system.