Four Stages of Sleep in Ayurveda

Four Stages of Sleep in Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Insights into the Four Stages of Sleep

Sleep is a vital aspect of our lives, influencing our physical and mental well-being. While modern science has provided us with an understanding of sleep stages and their importance, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, offers a unique perspective on the four stages of sleep. Ayurveda, which means “the science of life,” emphasizes balance in all aspects of life, and this extends to the realm of sleep. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Ayurveda says about the four stages of sleep and how they can impact your health and well-being.

Ayurveda’s Concept of Sleep

In Ayurveda, sleep is considered one of the three pillars of life, along with diet and sexual energy. A good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining overall health and harmony in the body and mind. According to Ayurvedic principles, sleep is not merely a passive state; it’s a dynamic process with distinct stages.

The Four Stages of Sleep in Ayurveda

Ayurveda recognizes four distinct stages of sleep, each with its unique characteristics.

Prathamavastha (First Stage)

    In this initial stage of sleep, as you’re falling asleep, your body and mind gradually start to relax. It’s like the body and mind are preparing for the journey of sleep. This stage corresponds to the Vata dosha, which is associated with the air and ether elements in Ayurveda. Vata represents movement and change.
    To balance this stage, it’s essential to wind down before bed. You can practice calming activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or gentle yoga stretches. A warm, soothing cup of herbal tea can also help relax the Vata energy and set the stage for peaceful sleep.

Dwitiyavastha (Second Stage)

    In the second stage, you transition into a lighter, dreamless sleep. Your sensory awareness diminishes, and your body starts to restore itself. This stage corresponds to the Pitta dosha, representing the fire and transformation elements. It’s believed that the body detoxifies and repairs during this phase.
    To encourage a healthy second stage of sleep, it’s important to have a light dinner at least a few hours before bedtime. Avoiding spicy and heavy foods can help reduce the excess Pitta energy. Also, maintaining a calm and peaceful sleep environment can further support the healing aspect of this stage.

Tritiyavastha (Third Stage)

    As you progress into the third stage of sleep, you enter the realm of dreams. It is characterized by vivid dreams and occasional movements. This stage is related to the Kapha dosha, associated with the earth and water elements. Kapha is responsible for structure and emotional well-being.
    To balance this stage, it’s important to work on emotional processing and healing before bedtime. Practicing gratitude, journaling, or engaging in self-reflection can help address any emotional imbalances. Additionally, a light, Kapha-balancing diet and staying hydrated can contribute to a harmonious third stage of sleep.

Chaturthavastha (Fourth Stage)

    The fourth and final stage of sleep, known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, is the deepest phase where intense dreams, rapid eye movements, and temporary muscle paralysis occur. This stage is considered dynamic, balancing all three doshas.
    To promote a restorative fourth stage, it’s essential to ensure that you’ve created an environment conducive to deep sleep. This means minimizing disruptions, keeping your sleep space comfortable, and avoiding caffeine or heavy foods close to bedtime. Balancing your doshas through a well-rounded diet and lifestyle practices can also contribute to the rejuvenation that occurs during this stage.

Key Takeaways for Maintaining Sleep Balance

According to Ayurveda, imbalances in the doshas can disrupt the sleep stages and lead to various health issues. To promote healthy sleep, Ayurveda recommends.

  • Following a regular sleep schedule that aligns with your body’s natural rhythms.
  • Adhering to a soothing bedtime routine, such as meditation, gentle yoga, or warm herbal baths.
  • Creating a sleep-conducive environment by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoiding heavy meals, caffeine, and excessive stimulation close to bedtime.
  • Balancing your doshas through dietary and lifestyle choices, as an imbalance can lead to sleep disturbances.
Ayurveda’s insights into the four stages of sleep provide a holistic understanding of this essential aspect of our lives. By following Ayurvedic principles and seeking balance in the doshas, we can enhance the quality of our sleep, leading to improved physical and mental well-being. Ayurveda’s wisdom reminds us that sleep is not just a necessity but a sacred process that allows us to heal, rejuvenate, and thrive in harmony with our natural rhythms.
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How ayurveda can help reduce screen fatigue

How ayurveda can help reduce screen fatigue

For most people over the last two years, days are spent shuffling between the table and bed, typing away on laptops or phone screens. The pandemic has brought with it many major lifestyle shifts, but one of the most jarring ones has to be the shift to a digital lifestyle. Computers and phones have a purpose in times of isolation, they have been proven to help work through a pandemic – but finding a balance is a necessity. Schools have shifted to online classes and in-person brainstorming sessions have become Zoom meetings. Connecting with loved ones has turned into virtual interactions and most social interactions take place behind a screen.

Since COVID has begun, exposure to screen time has only increased around the world. A study published by WHO links a decline in sleep quality, neck pain, headaches, high blood pressure to increased screen time. Another study has found links between poor mental health and a rise in anxiety and depression with an increase in screen time. Ayurveda teaches living in harmony and with the seasons and the natural flow of every day. This innate rhythm is disrupted by technology.

People around the world have spent the pandemic locked in their homes, doom-scrolling through Instagram, juggling work-from-home emails and binging on streaming sites – and most have felt its consequences. The nagging pain at the back of our eyes, a dull headache, sensitivity to light and difficulty concentrating. Fatigue and exhaustion from screens is real and it manifests itself both mentally and physically. Technology naturally stimulates the Vata Dosha (Vata manages all the movement in our Mind and Body). When Vata is out of balance, we can feel ungrounded and too much screen time tends to make this feeling worse. As we shift into this digital reality – screen time is here to stay.

So, here are some things one can do to combat that tiredness and practice some much needed digital self care.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule – Akshi Tarpana (that translates to eye rejuvenation) or soothing the eyes is a part of dinacharya. When working on a computer, remembering to take a break every twenty minutes is a great first step. It almost sounds redundant to say this but everyone forgets to take a break. When one looks at computer screens, they tend to blink 66% less than average. Rest your eyes by looking at an object twenty feet away for twenty seconds and give your eyes a chance to relax. Whatever you’re working on, will always be there when you get back from your break.

Meditate – One of the best ways to cope with digital fatigue is Sattva Vijaya (increasing the quality of clarity). To increase Sattva we can exercise, eat nourishing food, practice breathwork and meditation. A moment of quiet self-awareness can set the tone for the rest of the day. Meditation provides the much needed downtime our brains need to recuperate and be mindful.

Set digital boundaries – Healthy boundaries between our personal and professional spaces have always been important, but with work-from-home it is important for us to separate our workspaces and screen spaces from the spaces in our homes we use to unwind and rest. This helps us balance our Vata in our everyday life.

Connect with nature – Nature helps us soothe our senses, cures Vata imbalances and is grounding. Going on regular walks and connecting with nature supports calm and stable energies, proper digestion and gives the balance we need to manage challenging tasks. Schedule 15-30 minute walks without any screens to practice a physical and mental detox.

Just including these small changes as part of one’s daily lifestyle can provide a lot of relief from the constant screen time that has worked into our lives. Some other basic things to keep in mind are staying hydrated, eating healthy and remembering that prevention is better than the cure. Even if fatigue isn’t felt in the body, practicing and cultivating these values have a great impact in the long run.

Self regulating and actively engaging with computers instead of passively absorbing what is on the screen, practicing mindfulness and healthy digital habits as well as actively connecting with friends, family and peers beyond laptop screens are all healthy boundaries one needs to set for themselves – so we can lead our best lives and be our best selves in these uncertain times.

We believe in collaborative relationship-based care where our Ayurvedic Doctors, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurvedic Supplement Brands, Ayurvedic Nutritionists & Chefs, Yoga, and Meditation Trainers are in sync. Contact the team who passionately works together to hold your hand in this healing journey.