Healthy Sleeping Habits

I’m an Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Here’s the Most Common Sleep Issue Each Dosha Struggles With

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Getty Image/Westend61
Ayurveda is a holistic healing practice that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. Your Ayurvedic dosha, or energy type—vata, pitta, or kapha—can highlight what's energetically best for your mind and body. Living in alignment with your dominant dosha may mean examining what you eat, how you move, and even when you sleep. So then, the application of Ayurveda for sleep first requires you to have a sense of your dominant dosha.

To be clear, your dosha isn't so much a personality type as it is an energetic makeup or a composition of the body that needs to be balanced. If something feels a little off-kilter, perhaps you're being pulled energetically one way or another, and effects of that can manifest in many ways, including physiological struggles, like the experience of subpar sleep.

There's even research to support how certain sleep issues can be an issue of dosha. One 2015 study published in Medical Science Monitor investigated different sleep patterns based on dosha, and sure enough, there are certain commonalities that participants of the same dosha tended to share. With this in mind, if you act in accordance with the energy of your dosha, you may be able to sleep sounder.

Below, Oriental medicine specialist, Ayurvedic practitioner, and founder of Juhi Center in New York, Juhi Singh, LAc, shares how using Ayurveda for sleep, with each dosha in mind, can lead to improved physiological results. (Don't know your dosha? Take an online quiz like this one to find out.)

How each dosha can best use Ayurveda for sleep, according to an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Vata

Those those who align with vata have something akin to an air or wind energy. They tend to be effervescent, breezy, chatty people, and always on the go. They also may struggle with a racing mind, a nervy disposition, and trouble focusing. Not shockingly, they have the most difficult time getting a good night's rest, according to Singh.

"Vatas tends to have racing minds and difficulty slowing down their thoughts, therefore finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep," says Singh. "Vatas may wake up feeling restless."

I'm going to confirm that, too. There roughly a million things running through my mind before bedtime, and when I have a 3 a.m. wakeup, it's hard to conk back out. For others vata sleep strugglers, the following tips might help:

1. Put away end-of-the-night distractions

"To ensure a good night sleep for vata, avoid tasks right before bed," Singh says. This applies to anything that can put your mind to work, but it especially means you want to put the phone out of reach. If you have anxious, kinetic energy, you're probably more prone to appsturbating and doomscrolling. And, honestly, having your phone on you at bedtime isn't ideal, regardless of your dosha. None of us need that much blue-light exposure to stay wide awake.

2. De-stress before bedtime

What's most important for vata is that you don't take your stressors with you to bed. "Take a hot bath with rose oil to calm the mind and relax the muscles," says Singh. "Give yourself a half hour to completely clear your mind and meditate before you go to sleep, letting go of your day's worries."

3. Say buh-bye to your caffeinated beverages

Ugh, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Singh advises that vatas should avoid caffeine altogether.

Pitta

Pitta has an elemental construction that leans towards fire. They have a bold personality and can make incredible leaders, yet they can also become hotheaded and irritable when they come up against conflict.

"Pitta's sleep imbalance occurs when you have no problem going to sleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t find yourself going back to sleep," Singh says. The approach you want to take if you're a pitta? Make sure that you're chill enough to slip into a very deep sleep—and check out the following tips:

1. Keep your room temperature cool

"Pitta is embodied by fire and heat, so to ensure a good night's sleep, keep your bedroom cool," Singh says. "If the bedroom is hot and stuffy, you increase the chances of waking up."

This is generally good advice for every dosha, considering that the most ideal temperature range for falling asleep is between 60 to 67 degrees. Luckily, there's about a million cooling sleep products on the market that can chill you out for this journey to Dreamland.

3. Refresh yourself in order to wind down

Incorporate a relaxing scent and make sure you feel minty fresh for a good night's rest. Also, stop drinking liquids before bedtime to help prevent any middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.

"Take a cool or lukewarm shower before bed, find a lavender essential oil or face mist to use, and avoid consuming liquids before bed," Singh says.

3. Set time and consumption boundaries on coffee

More bummer news from the caffeine front: Singh advises no more than 2 ounces a day, and you should be cutting off your java intake at 7 p.m.

Kapha

Finally, kapha takes on the grounded nature of Earth. They're calm, patient, sensible, although they may get stuck in a rut every once and a while. That being said, uber-relaxed kapha doshas have no problem falling and staying asleep. According to Singh, the only real concern is that they're getting too much of it.

"This causes laziness and a feeling of lethargy and dullness throughout the day," she says. "Avoid this by setting an alarm to not go over the recommended six to eight hours." And also be mindful of the following things:

1. Don't eat dense meals, especially close to bedtime

Singh recommends that you avoid foods that make you sluggish, such as fried, sugary and heavy meals.

2. Keep essential oils on you that promote alertness

Singh says the best essential oils for kaphas are eucalyptus or mint, which makes sense. Eucalyptus is a strong aroma that's potent enough to clear up your breathing pathways, while mint can help improve concentration and memory.

3. Keep your coffee intake on the slight size

On the coffee front, kaphas can have four ounces of caffeine a day, which is definitely an improvement from vata and pitta…but we're all going to save a lot of money on lattes, to say the least.

Originally published September 22, 2019. 

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