The universe functions in a rhythm. Align with that rhythm and feel well. Consistently ignore that rhythm and feel dis-ease.
Having a good night’s sleep is one of those things that is essential to our well-being.
Sleep well and you are in a good mood, upbeat, productive, alive. Don’t have it and you are likely to be crabby, unfocused, exhausted unhappy. In fact in Ayurveda, sleep is one of the three pillars of health which means it is essential for a healthy body and a well-functioning mind. If you have ever had trouble sleeping you know what I am talking about, whether that is trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early.
One of the most consistent rhythms is the rhythm of the sun. It rises in the morning it peak around noon and sets in the evening. This rhythm brings a certain energy. An early morning is light, expansive and thus lends itself well for meditation and contemplation.
There is a lot of fire element and it lends itself well for running errands or to digest a big meal. Then In the evening, there is more earthy energy and it is best to wind down and allow yourself to be carried to sleep.
My mom did a really good job establishing that evening rhythm for me. She made sure we ate earlier, lighter dinners, wound down early and were in bed at a reasonable hour. Only I just didn’t really get why that was such a good rhythm. We just had it.
When I was in my early 20s I totally lost it. I remember asking my parents: why do we work during daylight hours when it’s nice out and we could go skiing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to work at night so we can ski during the day? I sorta forgot about the sleep part. I just didn’t get it so I didn’t live it… until I learned about the Ayurvedic dosha clock which made total sense to me.
What time is a good time to go to bed?
According to Ayurveda, the day is divided into 3 sections. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Kapha is comprised of earth and water. Kapha is heavy and gross. It runs from 6pm to 10 pm and is well utilized for winding down, hanging out with friends, going for gentle walks, or maybe reading a book. There is a sweet, compassionate and loving energy in the air. Because Kapha is heavy. It is a good time to let that heaviness lull you to sleep.
Come 10 pm-ish Pitta energy has risen to full force again. Pitta is comprised of a lot of fire. It gives us the well-known second wind. You know how you can be super tired at night but then when you wait long enough you get mega energized and you are ready to tackle major projects in the middle of the night.
Ideally, at night Pitta energy is used by the body to do housecleaning.
You know. Cleanse the organs, remove toxins, digest experiences and such. The trouble is when you don’t go to bed and rest but follow that energy to tackle uncompleted projects, This valuable energy is taken away from the body to do it’s housecleaning job. It´s not good!!!! And you will be so overexcited that you won’t be able to fall asleep later or get a good night’s rest. Period.
If we were to spin the tale further it would look like this: A poor night’s sleep makes you wake up late. You will feel groggy and exhausted. There will be no time to start your day right and the rest of the day will feel discombobulated. You will feel edgy, tired, unfocused, foggy, dull.
What’s at stake if you don’t get enough rest?
A whole lot. A ton. Your health and happiness really. And if that’s not enough read on.
WebMD, a leading western medical internet site, reports that not getting enough sleep leads to all kinds of bad things: Heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, bipolar disorders, seasonal affective disorder, hypertension, obesity….. good lord. Since the 1950’s overall sleep duration has decreased by 1.5- 2 hours every night. That’s 25%. That means that if you slept 8 hours in the 1950’s, now you are only sleeping 6 hours. Yikes. The Center for Disease control has declared the lack of sleep a public health epidemic.
Going to bed at a reasonable time i.e. before the 10 pm Pitta time is a big factor to getting a good night’s rest. The reason we can’t fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early is partly because we have bad habits around our sleep rhythm. And when you go to bed late and don’t get enough sleep you train your body to produce cortisol around 8 pm. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones that we need for fleeing or fighting. We certainly don’t need it for a good night’s rest.
What to do next?
Do you know that you could do better with our sleep patterns but you just can’t get yourself to do it? Maybe you have too much on your schedule or too many exciting things you want to do at night. Maybe you work night shifts and you just don’t see how you could align your rhythm. Maybe you identify yourself as a night owl but see a need to change that… however, gremlins are in the way. Those are all good reasons to have a conversation with me. As I said: sleep is one of the three pillars of health. You definitely want to make sure you got it.
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We will talk about what’s up with your sleep and health today, how else you’d like it to be and how you can bridge the gap. You got nothing to lose and everything to gain.