Ayurveda sleep: How can Ayurveda and Yoga help you sleep better?
According to the classical Ayurvedic text called Ashtanga Hridayam, the importance of sleep is very high. "Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (proper physique) and abnormality, strength and debility, sexual prowess and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death – all depend on sleep." Ayurveda teaches us how Nidra (sleep) is one of the three pillars of health, alongside "ahara" (food) and brahmacharya (energy management). The balance of these three elements is necessary for a healthy life and good quality sleep.
Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine that emphasizes the cultivation and improvement of overall health rather than the treatment of a specific disease. This approach has considerable benefits: on the one hand, it improves digestion, metabolism, and immunity; on the other hand, it decreases anxiety, depression, and stress.
Both Ayurveda and Yoga have their origins in India, but they share common system of Vedic knowledge that dates back thousands of years.Having emerged from the same ancient scriptures, it is to be expected that the two practices have much in common, as the underlying principles and belief systems behind them are the same.
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What does Ayurveda say about sleep?
Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years in India. Your Ayurvedic dosha, or energy type—vata, pitta, or kapha—can reveal what's best for your mind and body energetically. Examining what you eat, how you exercise, and even when you sleep can help you live in harmony with your dominant dosha. As a result, to use Ayurveda and fall asleep quicker, you must first understand your dominant dosha. The three doshas are:
- vatta or wind;
- pitta or fire;
- kapha or water and earth.
To be clear, your dosha is more of an energetic makeup or a body composition that needs to be harmonized. If something feels off and your sleep is disturbed, it's possible that you're being tugged energetically in one direction or another. The effects of this can appear in a variety of ways, including physiological issues like poor sleep.
There is even research showing that certain sleep problems may be related to dosha. A 2015 study, published in Medical Science Monitor, looked at different sleep patterns based on dosha types. And indeed, there are certain commonalities that participants with the same doshas tend to share. So if you are aligned with the energy of your doshas, you may be able to sleep more soundly.
How can I sleep better with the practice of Ayurveda?
How each dosha can be used for better sleep and good health, according to an Ayurvedic practitioner?
Those assigned to Vata have something like air or wind energy. They tend to be bubbly, airy and talkative and are always on the go. It is in their nature to struggle with a racing mind, a nervous disposition, and diffifculty concentrating. It is not surprising that they have the hardest time getting a good night's sleep. For those struggling with vata sleeping issues, the following tips may be helpful:
1. Push aside distractions at the end of the night.
To ensure a good night's rest for vata, avoid tasks right before bed. That goes for anything that might occupy your mind, but it especially means putting your phone out of reach. If you have anxious, kinetic energy, you are probably more prone to overthinking. And frankly, having your phone with you before bed is not ideal, regardless of your dosha. Keep electronics at least one hour before you want to fall asleep. This includes phones, TV, tablets and computers. None of us need that much blue light to stay awake.
2. Relax before going to bed.
The most important thing for Vata is not to take your stressors to bed with you. Take a hot bath with rose oil if you can, to relax the muscles and calm the mind. Allow yourself half an hour to completely clear your mind and meditate before you go to sleep to let go of the worries of the day. This ritual will ensure longer, deeper and better quality sleeping.
3. Say goodbye to caffeinated drinks.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but by Ayurvedic practice, vatas should avoid caffeine altogether.
Pitta has an elemental constitution inclined to fire. They have bold personality and can be incredible leaders, but they can also become hot-headed and irritable when faced with conflict. In pitta nature, sleep deprivation occurs when they wake up in the middle of the night and can not get back to sleep. What you should do if you are a pitta? Make sure you are relaxed enough to fall into a very deep sleep - and follow these tips:
1. Keep your room temperature cool
Pitta represents fire and heat. Keep your bedroom cool to ensure a good night's sleep, this will relax you and prepare you for a sound sleep. If the bedroom is hot and stuffy, you increase the likelihood of waking up. This is generally good advice for all types of dosha. The ideal temperature for falling asleep is between 17 and 20 degrees celsius. Fortunately, there are a million cooling sleep products on the market to help you on your journey to sound sleep.
2. Refresh yourself to help you rest.
Put on a relaxing scent and make yourself feel minty fresh so you can get a good night's sleep. Also, stop taking liquids before bed so you do not have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Before bed, take a cool or warm shower, apply lavender essential oil or a face mist, and avoid drinking liquids.
3. Limit coffee consumption in terms of time and content.
More bad news from the caffeine front: Singh advises drinking no more than 2 ounces per day, and you should stop your coffee consumption at 7 pm.
Finally, Kapha takes on the grounded nature of the earth. They are calm, patient and reasonable, although they can get stuck in a rut now and then. That being said, overly relaxed Kapha doshas have no problem falling asleep, and staying asleep. The only real concern is that they get too much of it. This leads to laziness and feeling lethargic and sluggish during the day. Avoid this by setting an alarm clock so you do not exceed the recommended six to eight hours. And watch out for the following things, too:
1. Do not eat heavy meals, especially just before bed.
For sound sleep, it is recommended to avoid foods that make you sluggish, such as fried, sugary, and heavy meals.
2. Carry essential oils that promote alertness.
Essential oils that have the best impact on kaphas are eucalyptus or mint. Eucalyptus is a strong enough aroma to clear your airways, while mint can improve concentration and memory. If you are one of those people who have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night, the essential oil can help. Aromatherapy can be a safe and natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatments for sleeping issues.
3. Keep your coffee consumption in check.
As for coffee, kaphas can consume four ounces of caffeine per day. This definitely an improvement over vata and pitta but we will all save a lot of money on lattes, to say the least.
Is it good to do yoga before sleep?
Yoga nidra is a gentle and relaxing way to end the day. A nationwide survey found that over 55% of people who did this practice found that it helped them sleep better. More than 85% said yoga helped relieve stress. You can use supportive tools like pillows, blankets, and blocks to make the poses more comfortable so you can stay in the pose longer and keep breathing.
Why does yoga improve sleep?
Your breath is the key to relaxing in these poses. Breathing is just as important - if not more important -in yoga as the pose itself. Use a gentle and calming breathing technique called Ujjayi Breath, also known as Ocean Breath or Victorious Breath. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale through your nostrils while compressing the back of your throat as if you were saying "ha," but keep your mouth closed. This exhale should sound like the ocean waves (or like Darth Vader from Star Wars). In each of these poses, use this deep and steady breath to help you relax.
Practice these yoga for sleep, right before sleeping and stay in them for about 3 to 5 minutes eachWith the exception of Corpse Pose, where your breath returns to normal, use your Ocean Breath in each pose. At the end of the day, try these restorative yoga positions to ease tension and stress. The more often you practice these poses regularly, the more likely you are to sleep well at night.
Benefits of practicing yoga before bed
Yoga is an amazing activity for the body, and the benefits of doing yoga before bed are numerous. Whether you practice it for mental clarity or the numerous physical benefits, it is definitely something you should incorporate into your daily routine. Some of the benefits of doing yoga before bed are:
- Calming nervous system;
- Increasing oxygen levels;
- Helps you switch off;
- Helps with aches and pains;
- Weight loss.
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