Ayurveda & Sleep


Sleep is the golden chain that ties mind & body together. Article by Vaidya Anwesha Mukherjee

Ayurveda & Sleep

Ayurveda mentions Sleep (nidra) in Trayo Upastambha (3 pillers of life); a basic instinct to all living beings.

Ayurveda also mentioned Sleep (nidra) as one of the Adharaniya vega (Non-suppresable urges). It is advised not to suppress Sleep, if it’s suppressed then it may cause headache, body pain, yawning, drowsiness, heaviness of eyes.

The Ayurveda classical text, Ashtanga Hridaya quotes : “Happiness & unhappiness, nourishment (proper physique) & abnormality, strength & debility, sexual prowess & impotence, knowledge & ignorance, life & death – all depend on sleep.”

The Ayurveda classical text, Susruta Samhita quotes : “The pleasure & sorrow, or nourishment & mal-nourishment, strength or loss of strength, libido or poor sexual virility, good intellect & poor memory, pleasure & sorrow full living are depend upon proper & improper sleep of an individual respectively.”

Āyurveda classics suggests that if anyone is having irregular Sleep for long time, then to have a sound sleep the person must – do abhyanga (ayurvedic body massage), shiro abhyanga (ayurvedic head massage), pada abhyanga (ayurvedic foot massage).

Sleep is needed to rejuvenate & reenergize our body, mind, spirit.

According to Ayurveda, staying up Late-Night, not getting enough Sleep can increase the Vata Dosha which causes serious problems & affects the body badly, leading to following disorders –

★ General Weakness.

★ Weak Immune System.

★ Weight gain, Increased Appetite & Carbohydrate craving.

★ Hairfall

★ Overthinking

  • Depression.

★ Memory loss

  • Forgetfulness.

★ Impairment of Judgement.

★ Increase risk of certain Malignant Tumors.

★ Increase risk of Diabetes.

★ Increase risk of Heart diseases

  • High BP
  • Breathlessness.

★ Hormonal imbalance

  • Lower Sex drive.

★ Affects moisture level of skin

  • skin looses youthfulness & complexion.

★ Looseness of Joints.

★ Flaccidity in Muscles.

★ Day time sleep

  • Drowsiness.

★ Lack of Enthusiasm

  • Lazyness.

★ Body gets easily diseased

  • risk of death increases.

Rituals for a sound Sleep at night –

● Warm bath

● Pranayam while sitting on bed.

● Drink warm milk with cardamom.

● Scalp, Foot, Palm massage with mustard/sesame oil/ghee.

● Make room dark before sleep.

● Sleep within 10-11 PM as there is dominance of kapha at this hour, making it more conducive to fall asleep

● Avoid screen/ mobile 1hour before sleep.

● Avoid coffee/alcohol/cigerate smoking before sleep.

● Read book or listen to soothing music until sleepy

● Take an evening walk before sleeping 

● Take steam before sleeping

● Drink herbal tea made from tagar, Sankhapuspi or Chamomile

● Smell your favourite fragrance before sleep.

● Can do Balasana (Baby pose yoga), Savasana (Corpse pose yoga).

● Pray

What’s the best position to Sleep according to Ayurveda ?

➔ Left side (Vamkushi)

Benefits of left side sleeping –

● Better heart function

● Better digestion

● Good for pregnant women

● Prevents snoring

● Better blood circulation

● Relives back & neck pain

● Improves Liver & Kidney function

● Prevents acidity & heartburn

● Positive impact on brain

● Helps in smooth bowel movement

Types of Sleep (Nidra) according to Ayurveda; according to Charaka Samhita (6) –

➢ Tamobhava (depression)

➢ Slesma samudbhava (increased kapha caused by eating excess of foods like chocolate, cheese or fried food)

➢ Mano sarira srama sambhava (exhaustion of mind & body caused by excessive physical work)

➢ Aguntuki (imbalance or injury in the body)

➢ Vyadhanubartini (chronic disease)

➢ Ratri swabhava prabhava (natural sleep at night without external imbalances)

Types of Sleep (Nidra) according to Susruta Samhita (3) –

➢ Vaishanavi

➢ Vaikariki

➢ Tamashi

Ayurveda doesn’t recommend Day sleeping, Afternoon nap (Diva swapna).

Day sleeping (Diva swapna) is indicated only in Summer afternoon, in elderly person & children, underweight, exhausted by long journey, alcohol & heavy work.

Day sleeping is strictly prohibited in Obese person, Winter, Monsoon, Spring season.

What happens when you Sleep at day time ?

❖ Causes kapha, pitta imbalances.

❖ Causes swelling/odema, tastelessness, nausea, aggravation of cold, migraine, skin diseases, itching, lassitude, cough, throat congestion, lack of good memory & intelligence, fever, weakness of sense organs, increase in toxicity occurs if day sleeping.

How long can you Sleep at afternoon ?

➔ Not more than 20-30 minutes.


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