Sleep and Ayurveda

Sleep and Ayurveda – lets explore sleep through an Ayurvedic Lens

In the realm of Western medicine, a common approach to addressing health concerns often involves prescribing medications to alleviate specific symptoms. If you suffer from indigestion or heartburn, chances are you will receive antacid tablets as a remedy. Similarly, for individuals grappling with persistent sleep disturbances, the response typically involves the prescription of antidepressants or sleeping pills. This approach prioritises the elimination of symptoms, albeit temporarily.

It begs the question whether we are truly addressing the underlying causes of our health issues.

Gandhi once remarked, “Modern drugs are too damn effective!” While quick fixes for sleep problems may seem enticing, they often come with the drawback of leaving you feeling less than optimal upon waking. These medications might help you sleep, but they do not eradicate the root causes of your sleep problems, which continue to lurk in the background while you temporarily forget about them through nightly pill consumption.

Ayurveda, on the other hand, employs a distinct perspective. Ayurveda delves into the holistic assessment of an individual to unearth the underlying cause of sleep issues. It is easy to attribute stress as the primary culprit behind most sleep disturbances, and indeed, this is often the case. Prolonged exposure to stress can engender a multitude of health ailments, culminating in insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Ayurveda emphasises the need to carefully disentangle and nurture the individual back into a state of equilibrium.

According to Ayurveda, our constitution is composed of the five fundamental elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Each individual possesses a unique composition, characterised by varying ratios of these elements, rendering them distinctly different from one another.

Ayurveda classifies individuals into three primary mind-body types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  For simplicity, I have associated Vata with the Sensitive Sleeper, Pitta with the Variable Sleeper and Kapha with the Good Sleeper.

  1. Vata: Vata embodies the principle of movement and change, closely associated with the wind element. Individuals with a dominant Vata nature tend to be slender, agile, and exhibit swiftness in thought and action. Change is a constant in their lives. When Vata remains in balance, it fosters creativity, enthusiasm, and vivacity. However, an excessive Vata can give rise to anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, and irregular digestion.
  2. Pitta: Pitta signifies the principle of transformation, evident in the digestion of ideas, sensory experiences, emotions, and food. It aligns with the fire element. Those predominantly Pitta are characterised by muscularity, intelligence, and determination. In a harmonious state, Pitta supports warmth, intelligence, and effective leadership. Conversely, an imbalanced Pitta may manifest as criticality, irritability, and aggression.
  3. Kapha: Kapha embodies the principle of protection, nourishment, and stability, closely associated with the earth element. Individuals with a dominant Kapha nature tend to have a more substantial frame, move at a leisurely pace, and exude stability. When Kapha is in balance, it promotes calmness, sweetness, and loyalty. However, excessive Kapha can result in weight gain, congestion, and resistance to positive changes.

In the quest to overcome insomnia and sleep deprivation, Ayurveda holds a pivotal role in my treatment plan. The initial step in this journey is to determine your dosha (type), which serves as a foundational aspect in the Ayurvedic approach to health.

Beyond understanding your dosha, Ayurveda provides a comprehensive roadmap for improving sleep quality. This includes dietary recommendations tailored to your specific constitution, lifestyle adjustments, stress management techniques, and natural remedies that align with your individual mind-body type.

Furthermore, Ayurveda underscores the significance of aligning with the natural rhythms of the day, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. These practices can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep and overall well-being.

Incorporating Ayurvedic principles into your sleep regimen fosters a holistic approach to addressing sleep issues. It acknowledges that the human body and mind are intricately interconnected, and disturbances in one aspect can reverberate through every facet of our well-being. By identifying and addressing the root causes of sleep disturbances, Ayurveda offers a sustainable and balanced path to achieving restful, rejuvenating sleep, ensuring you wake up each morning feeling not only well-rested but also in tune with your overall health. For more information on identifying your dosha (sleep type), please click here.


Dr Michael Breus on Sleep and Ayurveda