According to Ayurveda, napping during the day may lead to weight gain. Yes, you read that right! Naps or daytime sleep, according to the Ayurvedic texts, can contribute toward weight gain even if you’re on a diet and working out regularly.
Various Ayurvedic texts mention how daytime sleep can be detrimental to health. You may be doing everything right in regards to your weight loss plan but your daytime naps could be the one thing nullifying the effects of your efforts.
Regular sleep during nighttime is called ratri svabhava nidra. This refers to sleep that occurs during the nighttime as a natural phenomenon.1 It is the best, healthiest form of sleep.
In the classical Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, it is stated that a person falls asleep when their mind (manas) and sensory organs (indriyas) become exhausted. They will also fall asleep when their mind withdraws from the objects of the sense organs.2
Charaka Samhita also says that a good night’s sleep provides health, nourishment, strength, fertility, knowledge, and longevity. Longevity is included here because lack of sleep can lead to various health problems.3
In the same text, daytime sleep is contraindicated for various reasons. According to the Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, daytime sleep can aggravate Kapha and Pitta dosha. Aggravation of Kapha and Pitta dosha can lead to various problems related to these doshas.4
According to the renowned Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, daytime sleep can aggravate Kapha and Pitta dosha
Kapha dosha in its normal state nourishes and lubricates the body and provides stability. Since the Kapha dosha is associated with heaviness, thickness, and slowness, an aggravated Kapha usually causes weight gain.
Charaka also mentions that those who already have an excess of fat in the body, those with a primarily Kapha prakriti, or those suffering from an aggravated Kapha must avoid sleep during the day.4
Another chapter from Charaka’s book called Ashto nindtiya adhyaya mentions that daytime sleeping can cause weight gain. Astho means eight and nindtiya means that which is unacceptable or disregarded. Adhyaya means chapter.
In this chapter, Charaak classified an unhealthy body into eight possible ‘unacceptable’ types.
While we can’t know for sure the reasoning behind this classification system, we do know that both obesity and malnutrition give rise to a variety of health complications.
Today, an attitude of acceptance and inclusion creates a different societal norm for people of all conditions.
The eight unacceptable body types in the ancient texts are the following.5
Sleeping during the day is mentioned as one of the main causes of being overweight or obese in the Charak Samhita.6
Ayurveda talks about sapta dhatu or seven tissues in the body. These seven tissues are rasa dhatu, rakta dhatu, mamsa dhatu, meda dhatu, asthi dhatu, majja dhatu, and shukra dhatu. Meda dhatu can be correlated with fat tissue in the body.
According to Charaka Samhita, in overweight and obese persons, problems occur at meda or fat tissue level. In people struggling with higher body fat levels, other tissues don’t get as nourished as the meda dhatu (fat tissue).
According to Ayurveda, food nourishes rasa dhatu which further nourishes rakta dhatu and so on. So one dhatu or tissue nourishes the next dhatu or tissue.
Increased fat tissue causes obstructions in channels that cease the air or Vata. This ceased air, in turn, increases the digestive fire or jathar agni.
This increased digestive fire causes repetitive urges to eat food. As a result, a person who is overweight or obese ends up feeling hungry most of the time and eats more food repeatedly. This causes increased fat accumulation in the body. This is why naps can hamper weight loss efforts.
Because of the excess fat, other tissues don’t receive the proper nourishment.7 All the aforementioned statements from Charaka Samhita support the idea that daytime sleep can cause weight gain.
The Charaka Samhita also mentions that during summer you can take a nap during the day. This is because the Vata dosha or air at this time increases in your body along with excessive dryness.
Also, days are longer during the summer so you may nap during the day to get your daily 7-8 hours of sleep.8
The following people can take daytime naps.9
If someone sleeps regularly during the daytime and has become habituated to it, they can continue their naps since their body has adapted to it.
In these cases, daytime sleep nourishes the body tissues, increases strength and promotes longevity.10
Various scientific studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to instances of weight gain and obesity.11
However, many studies have also demonstrated the benefits of napping for 10-20 minutes during the day. This is usually meant for people who are sleep deprived.
Try to get your continuous 7-8 hours of sleep at night. However if you are not able to get a full night’s sleep, you can take ‘power’ naps during the day.
A qualified Ayurvedic practitioner can assess your body constitution and lifestyle and let you know whether daytime naps will help or hurt your weight loss efforts.
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