Sleep (nidra) is one of the main pillars of good health in Ayurveda and is as important as diet in sustaining a quality healthspan.
Ayurveda cautions that poor sleep patterns can be debilitating as it triggers age-associated pathological conditions that can hasten the aging process.
Research studies indicate that insufficient sleep can disrupt circadian rhythms that result in negative health outcomes, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment.
Poor sleep quality not only disrupts the circadian rhythms but also triggers metabolic diseases including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. 1
Ayurveda advises to sleep in the left lateral position and Sushruta advises walking 100 steps after dinner before sleeping.
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Sleep hygiene is defined as a set of behavioral and environmental recommendations intended to promote healthy sleep and was originally developed for use in the treatment of mild to moderate insomnia.
During the sleep hygiene education, patients learn about healthy sleep habits and are encouraged to follow a set of recommendations to improve their sleep (e.g., avoid caffeine, exercise regularly, eliminate noise from the sleeping environment, maintain a regular sleep schedule).5
Although research has demonstrated links between individual sleep hygiene components and subsequent sleep, evidence for the efficacy of sleep hygiene education as a treatment for insomnia has been limited and inconclusive.
Research Studies On The Benefits Of Following Night Regimen (Ratricharya)
We all know about the importance of maintaining consistent bedtimes for children.
Children with optimal bedtime routines have been found to perform better in tests of executive function, working memory, inhibition, attention, and cognitive flexibility.
- Institution of a consistent nightly bedtime routine improves sleep in infants and toddlers with mild to moderate sleep problems.
- Such a routine appears to be highly efficacious; it can be easily adopted by practicing pediatricians and other pediatric providers as a routine recommendation for both prevention and treatment of sleep problems in young children.
- Primary care practitioners play an instrumental role in helping families institute positive sleep practices and improving sleep in infants and toddlers.3
- Among the common problems related to aging is sleep quality; over half of older adults suffer from symptoms of insomnia.
- Age-related changes in circadian sleep/wake regulation constitute a major underlying factor. Constant and organized lifestyle may moderate the effects of circadian rhythm changes on sleep.
- Preliminary findings have linked daily regularity to sleep quality among healthy adults and in patients with Parkinson disease.4
Ayurvedic concepts of daily routines have had major implications for health research and helped establish a growing field of science called chronobiology.
Scientists are only now beginning to understand the importance of routines, biological clocks and circadian rhythms and their role in aging, well-being, and morbidity.
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Researchers studying chronobiology have noticed that increased longevity and improved health can be achieved by time-bound routines.
Furthermore, disturbances in the circadian rhythm can trigger fatigue, disorientation, insomnia and increased susceptibility to cancer.2
Summarizing, a peaceful evening devoid of any contraindicated activities, a wholesome and nourishing dinner followed by a walk, brushing and cleansing the body and herbs like triphala, ashwagandhaand others along with a good night’s sleep ensures your ratricharya is complete.
Consult a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner before trying any of the guidelines, routines, and herbs mentioned in this article.
- Rao R. V. (2018). Ayurveda and the science of aging. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 9(3), 225–232. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2017.10.002
- Froy O. Circadian rhythms, aging, and life span in mammals. Physiology. 2011;26:225–235.
- Mindell, J. A., Telofski, L. S., Wiegand, B., & Kurtz, E. S. (2009). A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep, 32(5), 599–606. doi:10.1093/sleep/32.5.599
- Zisberg, A., Gur-Yaish, N., & Shochat, T. (2010). Contribution of routine to sleep quality in community elderly. Sleep, 33(4), 509–514. doi:10.1093/sleep/33.4.509
- Zarcone VP. Sleep hygiene. In: Kryger MH, Roth T, Dement WC, editors. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 3rd ed. WB Saunders; Philadelphia, PA: 2000. pp. 657–61.