EVENING DINACHARYA, PART 2: THE DOSHIC NATURE OF SLEEP
By Shyam Kumar for Yogibeings
In Part 1, we looked the vital role of sleep in maintaining overall health, improving immunity and enhancing cognitive function. Establishing a consistent sleep and wake time goes a long way in enhancing the quality of rest and rejuvenation. Now, let’s see how different parts of the night are governed by different doshas, and how to synchronise our sleep routine with nature’s rhythm.
Ayurveda divides each day into two cycles:
1) The solar cycle which begins at 6 am and ends at 6 pm.
2) The lunar cycle which begins at 6 pm and ends at 6 am.
The lunar cycle plays an important role in establishing sleep rhythm. This twelve-hour period is divided into three intervals of four hours each. The first interval from 6 pm to 10 pm is dominated by Kapha, the second interval from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, and the third interval from 2 am to 6 am is dominated by Vata. This fundamental understanding, along with knowledge of the current season and your doshic constitution helps establish a proper evening routine that is in harmony with the doshic influences.
Ayurveda recommends going to sleep before 10 pm. During this time our bodies are dominated by Kapha’s earthy, stable and grounding properties—ideal for a deep, soothing sleep. The period from 10 pm to 2 am is dominated by Pitta, whose qualities are intense, hot, sharp and acidic. This might make you feel energetic, impatient to be active, and prevent you from falling asleep. Staying awake at this time causes a phenomenon called second wind, where you stop feeling drowsy even when you are exhausted. Moreover, Pitta increases the digestive fire and leaves you craving that midnight snack!
The time dominated by Pitta is used by the body to repair its tissues, clean out toxins, enhance your immune system and perform daily maintenance tasks. This is also when the mind processes the undigested thoughts and emotions caused during the day and comes to terms with them.
Pitta gives way to Vata dominance at around 2 am and the atmosphere is dominated by qualities of lightness, mobility and coolness. The body begins the process of waking up around this time. Ayurveda advises getting up an hour and a half before sunrise when Vata dominates, so you can begin the day feeling light and refreshed.
Sleeping fewer hours in harmony with these cycles can leave you feeling more relaxed and energetic than sleeping longer hours going to bed late. However, falling asleep early is not easy for many of us. In Part 3, we look at establishing a simple evening routine that helps us to wind down and get ready for a night of soothing sleep.