During sleep, our bodies take time to restore and heal; this healing takes place not only in the body, but also in the brain. That’s why babies sleep so much – sleep is absolutely critical for proper brain development.
For kids and adults alike, a good night’s sleep is crucial for a vibrant and active life. Have you noticed that if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you might be more irritable than normal; you may have difficulty focusing on the task at hand (aka brain fog); you might feel lazy or sluggish and avoid your yoga class or regular exercise routine; even good eating habits can go off the rails as we scramble for a quick fix in the kitchen or that afternoon triple shot, double-double, giganté caramel macchiato with extra whip (yes, I made that up but you get the idea).
In the ancient Indian healing practice of Ayurveda, there are three main body types called doshas – each of us is made up of a combination of all three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – your dosha is your true nature or constitution. Below Banyan Botanicals describes the sleep habits of the doshas . Can you find your most common sleep habits and disturbances?
Vata-Type Sleep and Sleep Imbalances
Vata-type sleep tends to be irregular and light, but can be profoundly deep when one is exhausted. Vata is also behind the tendencies to grind the teeth, sleep walk, or talk in one’s sleep. Vata-type dreams tend to be spacious and airy and often focus on movement, adventure, or being chased; vata-types dream a lot, but they frequently have trouble recalling their dreams. While vata can cause difficulty falling asleep, 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.
Pitta-Type Sleep and Sleep Imbalances
Pitta-types generally sleep well, though somewhat lightly. They tend to prefer a firm bed and few covers, due to pitta’s tendency to overheat. Pittas crave a moderate amount of sleep. However, pitta-types can easily forego sleep when they are preoccupied with a project or are up against a deadline. Pitta sleep is often disturbed by fiery, vivid, and active dreams, but pitta-types typically return to sleep easily if they are awakened. Difficulty falling asleep is the classic pitta-type sleep disorder because pitta is elevated in the mind and in the atmosphere from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. This can activate the mind, stimulate ambition, and can completely overwhelm any desire to sleep. As a result, many pitta-types are night owls and can be incredibly productive at night.
Kapha-Type Sleep and Sleep Imbalances
Kapha-types are heavy sleepers, can generally sleep soundly anywhere, and are not easily disturbed or awakened. They adore being in bed and like to sleep more hours than any other type—preferably on a soft mattress, under an abundance of comforting, fluffy covers. Interestingly, kapha-types actually need less sleep than vata- and pitta-types. Kapha dreams tend to be calm, smooth, watery, and emotional. When out of balance, kapha tends to cause excessive sleep, a feeling of heaviness, sluggishness, and difficulty waking up. Kapha is elevated in the mind and in the atmosphere from about 6–10 a.m./p.m., which can increase kapha’s natural heaviness and sluggishness, making it easy for kapha-types to sleep for many extra hours.
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Here are a few simple suggestions following Ayurvedic principals for restful sleep – no sheep counting required!
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day
- Finish your evening meal by 7pm so your body has time to digest
- Follow a night time routine – take time to wind down an hour before bed
- Listen to quiet music, meditate, Pranayama/breathing practice, gentle yoga practice
- Avoid stimulating activities like TV, computers and smartphones
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol before bed – try a warm cup of golden milk instead.
- Rub the soles of your feet with a drop of lavender oil
- Gentle evening yoga practice
- Legs up the wall (a favourite!)
- Gentle lying twist (lying on back with knees in toward chest, arms out wide in ‘T’ position, drop knees to side – hold for a few breaths on each side)
- Child’s Pose – a few breaths in the pose of a child before bed can do wonders!
A very good night to all and may your sleep be restful and your dreams sweet!