Sleep is a naturally occurring state of mind and body. Let’s take a look at the 6 different types of sleep in Ayurveda along with some remedies for better sleep.
Sleep is an important biological process and requirement for the body just like food, water, and air.
During sleep, our body recovers from the wear and tear which occurs during the day. Not just this, there are many more advantages to having a good night’s sleep.
During sleep, our body enters an anabolic state (the anabolic state is the constructive mechanism of our body) that restores the body’s critical functions like immunity.
Along with the nervous system, the skeletal system, and the muscular system also recover when you sleep. Therefore, sleeping is necessary for survival. We also feel more alert, restful, calm, and happy after sound sleep.
Sleep has a critical role in brain function, systemic physiology, in maintaining metabolism, regulation of appetite and the functioning of the immune, hormonal, and cardiovascular systems.14
Normal healthy sleep is characterized by various factors. These factors include sufficient duration, good quality, appropriate timing and regularity and the absence of sleep disturbances, and disorders.
While sleeping, your alertness and consciousness are altered. Your muscular and sensory activity drastically reduce when sleeping. There is also a modest decrease in the body’s metabolism during sleep.
While we don’t usually respond to our surrounding environment while sleeping, the state of sleep is very different from being totally unconscious (like when under anesthesia or in a coma).
Sleeping has a crucial role in maintaining the normal motor and cognitive functions of the body.14
Our body’s natural circadian rhythm or biological clock plays an important role in regulating sleep.
Thus, we can infer that it is not normal to be feeling sleepy when the body is supposed to be awake. Such problems with sleep can be attributed to poor lifestyle habits or certain underlying medical conditions.
Such issues can also indicate the presence of disorders like insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and others.
The hormone melatonin is responsible for maintaining and regulating normal sleep patterns. This hormone is released by the pineal gland. Interestingly, melatonin is also known as the 'hormone of darkness'.
Problems in sleep patterns may lead to the development of other issues like lack of concentration, difficulty in learning, memory lapses, fatigue, lethargy, and unstable emotional and mental states.
Sleep pattern problems may lead to the development of issues like lack of concentration.
In general, aging is the only factor that can lead to a change in sleep patters if there are no other underlying health conditions.
The ideal duration of sleep varies according to age and also from one person to another. However, in adults, approximately eight hours of sound sleep in the night are deemed necessary.
People tend to have dreams while sleeping which is also a normal physiological phenomenon. While sleeping, the body alternates between two different modes.
NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep alternate cyclically.
Keep reading for types of sleep and ayurvedic suggestions for getting better sleep and types of sleep.
If you’d like to learn more about Ayurveda and how it can help you with your health and wellbeing, check out Cate Stillman’s course below.
In Ayurveda too, sleep is given great importance. Nidra (sleep) is considered one of the three upasathmbha (secondary supports of life) in Ayurveda.
The context related to sleep has been explained very deeply in the classical Ayurvedic medical text Charak Samhita.
Various details related to sleep have been explained in this text like the different types of sleep and the advantages of getting better sleep at night.
Ratri svabhava prabha nidrais also called bhuta dhatri. Bhuta dhatri means that which fosters and nurtures all living beings just like a mother that raises her children with love and affection.
Ayurvedic Explanation Of Physiological Sleep
According to Ayurveda, when the mind gets exhausted, the sensory organs also get exhausted. As a result, they detach themselves from their subject (i.e. you!) and ultimately, the individual falls asleep.2
Now that we have discussed the different types of sleep mentioned in Ayurveda, let’s take a look at the benefits of getting better sleep.
Let’s see what happens when you don’t sleep properly.
Let’s take a look at some Ayurvedic suggestions for better sleep.
Charaka Samhita mentions various remedies for getting better sleep.7 Here are some of them.
Insomnia and sleep disorders are not new to the world of medicine. Ayurveda has also talked extensively about insomnia and other factors that disturb sleep.8
Here are some of the causes that deter sound sleep and cause insomnia.
In the Charaka Samhita, it is clearly mentioned that daytime sleep is contraindicated.
The Ayurvedic scholar Charaka stated that sleeping in the daytime in any season (except for summers) aggravates the Kapha and Pitta dosha. This is also applicable to the different types of sleep mentioned earlier.
It had also been mentioned that those who are overweight, obese, or those with Kapha prakriti (physical constitution with the predominance of Kapha dosha), and those suffering from latent poison should also avoid sleeping in the daytime.9
People who sleep at odd times in the day (due to various habits or poor lifestyles) may suffer from a host of health problems. Here are some of them.
Headache, heaviness in the body, body aches, loss of digestive strength, heaviness in the cardiothoracic region, edema, lack of interest in food, rhinitis, nausea, and hemicrania.
It can also cause hives, pustules, bodily eruptions, itching, drowsiness, cough, throat infections, memory impairment, fever, weakness of sensory and motor organs, and obstructions in the body’s minute channels (srotas). 10
For the above-mentioned circumstances, daytime sleep nourishes the body’s tissues, supports strength, and maintains longevity.13
Please consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before following the types of sleep and guidelines for better sleep as mentioned in this article.
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