Ayurveda and the Importance of Proper Rest and Sleep

Proper rest is essential for the well-being of any person. The body utilizes sleep as an opportunity to use its energy for healing and repairing damage to the body that accumulated during the waking hours. If the body does not receive enough sleep, the body cannot repair the damage caused by stress and strain. This leads to the body breaking down.

The effects of too little or too much sleep.

Too much or too little sleep is unhealthy. Too little sleep upsets the vāta doṣa while too much disturbs the kapha doṣa. Disturbance of the vāta doṣa results in weakness and tissues that are more susceptible to injury. Disturbance of the kapha doṣa results in tissues that become lethargic and heavy.

What is the right amount of sleep?

In general, about 7- 8 hours. A little less during the long summer days and a little more during the long winter nights. A little less if you have a kapha nature or imbalance, a little more if you have a vata nature or imbalance. Sleep in rhythm with the sun. Go to bed about 10:00. Wake up around sunrise. A little earlier if you are kapha. A little later if you are vata. For those of you with a pitta nature or imbalance, wake up right around sunrise.

Is quality or quantity more important to sleep?

More important than the length of sleep is the quality of our sleep. Deep, restful sleep is important for the health of the body and mind. With Ayurveda’s recommendations, this means going to bed about 10:00 and waking about sunrise. A person with a lifestyle that includes significant meditation or Yoga Nidra might not require as much sleep due to the deep rest received from the practices.

3 Tips for achieving a healthier sleep schedule

1. Give yourself a reason to wake up earlier.
Create a healthy morning routine and include time for meditation or a walk.
2. Get into a routine.
Set an alarm at first, and a second one if you need to. Once you do this for a month, it will become an embedded routine, a habit. In Yoga, this is called “samskara”. Your body will come to expect it. You will feel worse if you sleep in than if you get up! You will not want to sleep in late.
3. Be Disciplined.
At first, it will take discipline. It won’t be easy. You’ll tell yourself every reason why you can stay in bed and why tomorrow is a better day to get started. That is why it takes discipline and resolve. Set the alarm. Remind yourself of your desire to have good health and well-being.
For more detail on sleep rhythms, check out the book: Healing Your Life; Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda.