Sleep, though vital, is often neglected in our daily routine. Our society’s hustle culture promotes compromising on sleep and correlates sleep deprivation with success. Memes like, “Work today, sleep tomorrow,” are toxic and negatively impact our health and happiness.
As an entrepreneur, I often hear folks applaud 80-hour work weeks and three hours of sleep every night. As a writer, I have seen my colleagues burn the midnight oil and embrace the stereotype that a creative professional must be a night owl. Optimal health, according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, can only be achieved when there is a proper balance of the three pillars of life. Sleep is one of them.
- Our body replenishes and recharges when we sleep. Sleep aids the body in repairing, regenerating, and recovering.
- Sleep strengthens our immunity and helps fight infections.
- Sleep boosts our memory and helps us stay alert.
- A marked drop is seen in cognitive skills, learning and memory when you don’t sleep enough.
- Our organs flush out toxins at night.
- Sleep loss can increase inflammation in the body.
- Good sleep increases our focus, which impacts our productivity.
- Poor sleep is linked to weight gain.
- Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are at far greater risk of heart disease or stroke.
- Insufficient sleep can reduce our ability to be social or engage in coherent conversations.
- Certain studies have linked lack of sleep as a contributing factor to certain mental health issues—in fact, several studies show that a morning person is at a lower risk of depression.
When Should We Sleep?
According to the Ayurvedic clock, it’s best to get into bed before 10 pm and wake up before sunrise. Align your sleeping patterns with the cycles of the day and honor nature’s biorhythms. 6pm-10pm is Kapha time of the evening when the mind starts to slow down and there is a natural dullness induced in the body. Did you know that sleep in the earlier phases of the night is the most restful and restorative? Eat a light dinner and there should be a minimum of a 2-hour gap between dinner and sleep time. It’s ideal to wrap up dinner at 7 p.m.
Another Fact About Sleep
Sleep problems, like other health issues, arise from an imbalance of Ayurvedic doshas in the body. Too much or too little sleep brings on consequences. According to Ayurveda, vata and pitta energies cause sleeplessness and insomnia. Too little sleep upsets the vata dosha. Disturbance of vata dosha results in weaker tissues, ones that are more susceptible to injury. Excess kapha, on the other hand, is associated with oversleeping. Disturbance of the kapha dosha results in tissues becoming stagnant, lethargic, and immobile.
What causes these doshic imbalances, which ultimately impact our sleep hygiene? Several factors like diet, lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress, illnesses, and others. It’s advisable to align our sleeping patterns with the cycles of day and night: retire by 10 pm and rise with the sun.
Do you see how getting proper sleep is essential if we want to stay healthy and function well throughout the day? Good sleep can leave you feeling refreshed. Sure, sleep changes as we age, so you may not feel as rested as you did when you were younger. That is why it is important to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Avoid eating or drinking within a few hours of bedtime. Keep your room dark and quiet. Avoid any screen-time at least a couple of hours before bedtime. When it comes to health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” ~ E. Joseph Cossman
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact Sweta Vikram here.