Did you know that inadequate sleep is linked to chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, heart disease, chronic inflammation and a few others? Research also tells us that poor sleep quality and quantity in children and teens can have negative effects on their mental, emotional, and physical health.
What are the reasons that inhibit sound sleep? Between imbalanced lifestyle, ongoing health issues, frequent travel (in the pre-pandemic days), emotional and mental upheavals…our sleep gets impacted. Then there are also factors like overthinking, intense mind, mind chatter, stress, hormonal fluctuations, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, chronic pain etc. that could be interfering with a good night’s sleep.
How can the 5,000-year-old ancient healing science of Ayurveda help? Ayurveda acknowledges the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection. If you are battling chronic pain or if your mind is overactive (due to a myriad of reasons), you will probably find yourself struggling to sleep. Ayurveda reminds us that we are a miniature of nature. It proposes that the more we align ourselves with nature’s rhythms, in accordance with our individual nature, the more we will experience a life in balance.
According to Ayurveda, excessive sleep is because of Kapha Imbalance. On the other hand, insomnia is because of Pitta/Vata imbalance. If you have trouble falling asleep during the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., this might be the case of pitta-imbalance because pitta is elevated in the mind and in the atmosphere at this time. People get their second wind during this period. The mind is activated, stimulated, and can completely overwhelm any desire to sleep. The classic Vata-type sleep imbalance is to awaken during the night—unable to return to sleep. This is particularly common during Vata time, from about 2–6 a.m. Vata’s light and mobile qualities make it difficult for the mind to rest and the chatter to stop.
Ayurveda has a great deal to say about how to support balanced sleep in general. Often, simple adjustments to routine, exercise, diet, and lifestyle habits can have a profound impact on sleep. Here are a few tips:
1. Stick to a consistent sleep routine.
2. Eat nutritious and appropriate meals according to your dosha.
3. Have an early and light dinner, preferably 3 hours before you go to bed.
4. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm.
5. Turn off your phone and tablets at least an hour before bed.
6. Avoid consuming news and conversations that lead to sensory overload.
7. Go for nature walks.
8. Exercise regularly but nothing too stimulating in the evening.
9. Practice self-massage on your feet, head, and the temples. It’ll help ease stress, calm the mind, and soothe the body.
10. Cultivate a daily meditation practice to lower stress and promote sleep.
11. Try self-reflection and gratitude journaling.
12. Practice alternate nostril breathing. It calms the mind.
“Sleep is the best meditation.” Dalai Lama
Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an international speaker, best-selling author of 12 books, and Ayurveda and mindset coach who is committed to helping people thrive on their own terms.