Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep

The night time is specifically influenced by Kapha Dosha, because of coolant nature of Moon. Hence, our sleep is especially influenced by Kapha Dosha. This means that people with Kapha domination sleep more. 

Sleep improving tips (Video)

Eye mask for sleep?

If your mind is so weak and addicted to your phone that you cannot put it away, put on an eye mask and sleep. It acts as a deterrent.
For melatonin, a sleep helping hormone to be produced in good amounts, the room should be dark. If your room is not dark, there are lights on, then put on the eye mask.
If you do not have any sleep related issues, then it is better to avoid using an eye mask.
We should always be careful about 2 things. 
1. What goes into our stomachs 
2. What we do with our mind. 
Ask an insomniac and he would tell sleep is the most precious part of life. 
If you already have a good sleep, do not meddle with it. 
Some people get addicted to it and cannot go back to sleeping without it. 
If the eye mask is not soft, it can cause irritation and eventually lead to sleep disturbances. 
If you sleep during day time, Ayurveda recommends sleeping before food, for half the amount of time you skipped the sleep last night. 
During napping, because the surroundings are not dark, it makes sense to wear a mask. 
There are research papers showing eye mask improves melatonin and quality of sleep. (1)

Bottom line is, if you are already healthy with good sleep, there is no need for it. 
If you have sleep problems, instead of trying supplements / medicines, an eye mask is worth trying. 
Read related: Day Sleep – Sleeping In The Day: Rules, Benefits, Contra Indications

Sushruta’s expalantion

Acharaya Sushruta explains – “ The pleasure and sorrow, or nourishment and mal-nourishment, strength and loss of strength, libido and poor sexual virility, good intellect and poor memory, pleasure and sorrow full living are depend upon proper and improper sleep of an individual respectively.”.

How sleep occurs ?

According to Ayurvedic Classical literature the mind gets exhausted due to continuous work, pressure, fear, pleasure etc;
So mind cannot do its routine functions and hence the coordination between senses and objects is lost partially or fully, involuntarily for few minutes to few hours. Thus person undergoes to sleep.

According to modern science also, the mind including to sensory and motor organs when get tired and retire spontaneously from their objects. The stage is referred as sleep. Further it is important to note that disturbed sleep, untimely sleep and excess sleep will reduce the pleasure and longevity.

Sleep as a natural urge

Ayurvedic seers have considered sleep as natural urge also. So it should not be suppressed. Its suppression causes yawning, body ache, drowsiness, headache, heaviness of the eyes etc.

Sleep inducing factors

Ayurvedic experts classified sleep into 6 types as below:

  • Sleep caused due to increase of tamas (depression , inferiority, loneliness etc)
  • Sleep caused due to aggravation of kapha dosha( heavy foods and drinks, unctuous food intake, oil food intake)
  • Sleep caused due to exhaustion of body and mind ( travel, work, uninterested job, job dissatisfaction, heavy work etc.)
  • Sleep produced due to bad prognostic condition (in critical illness, disorders where vital organs or vital points are affected, electrolyte  imbalance etc)
  • Sleep caused due to subsequent complications of diseases (diseases which  cause electrolyte imbalance,lethargy, wasting, vital organ affliction etc.)
  • Sleep which is caused during night time/ natural sleep
  • Read related: Best Medicine For Obesity, Allergy, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc – Wake Up Before 6 am
sleep and Ayurveda

Effect of Dosha on sleep

Though Kapha is the dominant Dosha during night, if you can split night hours into three parts, each part is dominated by one Dosha each.
The first part – around 9 – 12 mid night is dominated by Kapha Dosha.
Mid part – 12 mid night to around 3:30-4 am is dominated by Pitta Dosha.
The last part – between 3 – 6 am is dominated by Vata Dosha.

Hence, it makes sense to sleep well within 11 PM, because, Kapha is dominant and it is related to sleep. Hence, you can sleep better.
If you delay sleep beyond 12, by that time, Pitta Dosha is dominant, not only sleeping will be uncomfortable, you also make yourself prone to headache, grey hairs, and skin diseases.
This is why, you need to stay away from gadgets and computers ahead of hitting the bed. Involving with them, makes you think more and more, triggers Vata which is not ideal, because, you need to boost Kapha to allow yourself to sleep.
Related: What is the right time to sleep? How to plan your sleep?

Video explanation

First one-third of night sleep

Kapha Dosha is dominant. Earth and water elements are dominant.
In stomach, food gets mixed well with digestive juices and initial stages of digestion sets in.
There is heaviness in head, eyes and whole body, which makes sleeping easier.
Most part of relaxation happens at this initial time period.
Mind is calmer in this part of time, than the other two.

Second one-third of sleep

In second one-third of night, Pitta is dominant. Fire and water elements are dominant.
Most part of the digestion and metabolism occurs at this stage.

Last part of sleep

The digested nutrients are circulated to all parts of the body, supplying energy.
Mind becomes more and more active.
Lungs, heart, and intestines become slowly active as a couple of hours pass by.
Stool and urine formation happens more at this stage.
Read related: 7 reasons why you should wake up early in the morning

Sleep physiology, Sanskrit verse

Sleep physiology as per Kaiyyadeva Nighantu:

The heart resembles the inverted lotus bud. When a person is in awaken state it opens [cardiac output increases] and when in sleep it closes [cardiac output decreases].
Sleep is a shuttlest specialization [sukshmAvastha] of  rest [tamo] characterized by lack of motor engagement  with the external environment [Atma-mano-indriya-arthanAm lokA Adi sarga prabhavA tamomoolA, tamomayee].

A reduction in cardiac output during the sleep contributes to hypotension seen in this state. Furthermore, resistance vessels dilate during sleep. Some investigators have found that, during sleep, mean arterial blood pressure can fall by 10% and heart rate can decrease by 6 without a change in cardiac output. In these cases the fall in blood pressure must depend upon vasodilatation.
In animal experiments the cardiac output declines slightly in NREM and moderately in REm sleep. Reference: Physiology in Sleep Edited by John Orem and Charles D. Barnes, 1980 pub, Academic press, pg.316.

When the darkness sets in the night the shleshma dosha covers the manovaha srotas and influences fatigue in the indriyas and inhibits the active status of the sensory organ to provide the resting phase, there by influences the occurrence of sleep.

The heart being the seat of consciousness according to Sushruta, when gets influenced by the predominant presence of the tamodosha, the sleep ensues.

The dullness of the tamas is the cause for nidra, whereas the briskness of the satva becomes the casue of  bodhatvam [awakening state].

The innate quality of the tamas is the venerable cause for causing the increase in the  activity of defectiveness of the tamas [vaiguNye tamasA abhivardhate].

Even when a person is not fully asleep [asvapan  api – rapid eye movement stage of sleep], the physical body [bhutatma] is considered to have fallen asleep [prasupta  iva ucyate]

While the  sarva indriyas [all the sensory organs] start taking to rest [vyuparatau], the manas still continues [mano anuparatam] with its working status [R.E.M state].

The sensory faculties experience state of sleep at different grades of levels [viShayebhya: tadA svapnaM nAnArUpaM prapashyati].

The rajas when influences the mind, the mind gets awaken and the person starts  perceiving various activities of both auspicious and inauspicious.
Thus, the body is influenced by all the three Doshas at night.
To promote the metabolism one should lie down on the left side.

Types of Sleep – Nidra Bheda

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Master Charaka has explained six types of sleep in Charaka Sutra Sthana section, Chapter 21 – Ashtau Ninditeeya Adhyaayah, Verses 58 and 59
Read – Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep

1. Tamobhava Nidra

Tamo = tamas quality
Bhava = caused by

Tamobhava Nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by increase in tamas quality of mind. This happens when the tamas quality predominate the mind. The person will feel inside the shell of darkness. It can be natural when it occurs due to one being enveloped by the darkness of the night. It may also be unnatural / life threatening. Usually the second form is accepted as tamobhava nidra.
Read – Manasika Doshas – Satva, Rajas, Tamas As Per Ayurveda

2. Shleshma Samudbhava Nidra

Shleshma = kapha
Samudbhava – caused by
Shleshma samudbhava nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by excess of kapha in the body.
Atinidrata i.e. excessive sleep is mentioned amongst the symptoms of kapha increase.
Master Vagbhata has explained this type of sleep by the name ‘kapha prabhava nidra’. Shleshma is synonym of kapha.
Sleep caused by excessive tamas quality and excessive kapha are said to have similar nature. Increased tamas and increased tamas quality will have similar impact.
Kapha is said to be predominant in the childhood. Therefore children sleep more and better than adults or aged people. Vata naturally increases in the old age. On the other hand there will also be decrease in kapha. Therefore the person will suffer from sleep related problems like insomnia or sleep deprivation in old age.
Read – 20 Simple Ayurveda Tips For A Better Sleep

3. Manah Sharira Shrama Sambhava Nidra

Manah shrama – exhaustion of mind
Sharira shrama – exhaustion of body
Manah sharira shrama sambhava nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by exhaustion of mind and body. We all would have experienced this.

Master Vagbhata has mentioned them in the names of –

  • Chitta kheda prabhava – which means ‘sleep caused by exertion of mind’
  • Sharira kheda prabhava – which means ‘sleep caused by exertion of body’

While Master Vagbhata has considered these as two different kinds of sleep, Master Charaka has clubbed them into one.
Read – What Is The Right Time To Sleep? How To Plan Your Sleep?

4. Agantuki Nidra

Agantuki – caused due to external causes
Agantuki Nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by the effect of external causes. It may be caused due to intoxicating smells which affect the consciousness, effect of some medicines and applications, injury etc.
Master Vagbhata has explained this in the name of ‘agantuja nidra’ which also means the same.
Master Chakrapani has said ‘agantuki rishtabhuta’ i.e. this type of sleep indicates impending death.

5. Vyadhyanuvartini Nidra

Vyadhi – disease
Anuvartini – that which follows
Vyadhyanuvartini Nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by or follows a disease process. This means to tell that this kind of sleep is caused as an effect of diseases. This sleep is caused as a complication of some disease. Example – as an effect of sannipata jwara etc
Master Vagbhata has explained this type of sleep in the name of ‘Roga kheda prabhava’ i.e. sleep caused due to disease.
Read – How To Improve Your Child’s Sleep? 16 Ayurveda Tips

6. Ratri Swabhava Prabhava Nidra

Ratri – night
Swabhava – effect / as an impact of
Ratri Swabhava Nidra is a type of sleep comes naturally at night time and is a healthy kind of sleep.
Master Vagbhata has explained this type of sleep in the name of ‘kala swabhavaja’ i.e. ‘sleep caused due to the impact of time i.e. night time’.

Sanskrit verses

Nature of Sleeps

Ratri Swabhava Prabhava Nidra kind of sleep is called by experts as ‘Bhuta Dhatri’. Bhuta Dhatri means ‘that which is like a mother to all the living beings’.
Tamobhava type of sleep is called ‘papa mula’ i.e. ‘sleep which is caused when the person gets involved in sinful acts with the mind enveloped with sinful thoughts’.
The other four types of sleeps are said to be of ‘disease forms’.
Read – Ayurvedic Herbs To Improve Sleep: Chronological List

Additional sleeps mentioned by Master Vagbhata

Papatmika Nidra

Papatmika = caused by sins
Papatmika Nidra is a type of sleep which is caused by effects of sinful acts. Master Charaka has included this in the explanation of ‘tamobhava nidra’ which he has detailed (as explained above) as ‘caused by sinful acts caused by sinful mind’. Master Charaka has mentioned sinful acts as cause of tamobhava nidra while Master Vagbhata has considered ‘fever due to sinful acts’ as a separate type of sleep.

Vyadhija Nidra

Vyadhija Nidra is a kind of sleep which occurs as a disease. This sleep has the ‘form of a disease’.
As already said – Master Vagbhata has explained chitta kheda prabhava and sharira kheda prabhava as separate types of sleep while Master Charaka has clubbed both these conditions.

Sleep and pleasure

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Ayurveda has mentioned about the interrelationship between sleep and pleasure. In fact Ayurveda has mentioned opposite attributes in relation to sleep, two among which are sukha and dukha. A good sleep in terms of quality and quantity is responsible for sukha i.e. pleasure. Disturbed sleep in terms of quality and quantity is responsible for dukha i.e. sadness or pain. Let us see what modern science, studies and researches have to tell about this.

Research works

Research works showing relationship between sleep and pleasure
Sleep, a reinforcer – Sleep is considered as pleasure by certain scholars who have worked extensively on sleep. Sleep is a primary reinforcer just like food, water and sex.

Circuit of sleep and awakening – Sleep and awakening occur in a circuit, one after the other rhythmically throughout our life. This circuit and the brain rewarding system are linked up by dopamine. One would sleep when the displeasure of ‘continuing awake’ is excessive. The sleep would come to an end when sleeping is no longer pleasant. Emotional sleep is experienced only by birds and mammals. The ‘dopamine’ involvement – During waking the dopamine levels decrease and on the other hand dopamine levels are replenished during sleep in opposition to sleep propensity (inclination). The homeostatic and circadian regulation of sleep is explained by ‘the want of sleep’.

Excessive waking –>Maximal displeasure caused by excessive waking –> Drop (minimal) levels of mesolimbic dopamine –> Feel to sleep –> Onset of sleep –> Good sleep –> Replenishment of limbic dopamine levels –> End of sleep –> Awakening
Read – What Is The Right Time To Sleep? How To Plan Your Sleep?

So this indicates that waking is directly associated with mesolimbic dopamine. Therefore to gain an efficient waking one should sleep well. If the limbic dopamine levels are replenished after a good sleep one would feel fresh, happy and energetic. On the contrary the displeasure of excessive awake will never ward away and one might not experience pleasure and happiness in the below mentioned conditions –

  • if there is prolonged sleep deprivation for longer periods or
  • when excessive awakening is practiced without balancing or following it with good sleep or
  • when sleep is postponed / avoided in spite of deprivation

So, displeasure of excessive awakening leads to depletion of dopamine. If one doesn’t sleep this displeasure continues and later when this becomes a habit it leads to many kinds of pain and diseases. This will also keep the person alert and un-fresh. If one balances this by following it up with good sleep the dopamine would get replenished. When dopamine is regularly replenished and its balance is maintained, one would keep fresh and happy.
Read – 6 Effective Home Remedies For Sleep Disturbances

To keep it short,
Good sleep → replenishment and restoration of dopamine→ happiness and pleasure → sukha
Pleasant sleep is the source of good health and pleasure. This is also called as emotional sleep. This kind of sleep only exists in animals capable of feeling emotions.
Joy, delight, ease, comfort, pleasantness and convenience are the terms which explain pleasure or sukha and are often used interchangeably. In that case, a good sleep in terms of quality and quantity provides all these variants of pleasure. On the contrary an imbalanced sleep may be the root cause of displeasure.

Study – ‘When it comes to choosing the greatest little pleasure of one’s life, nothing can be compared to a good night’s sleep’. So, a ‘good night’s sleep is ultimate pleasure’. Finding (poll of 3,000 Britons) – ‘Going to bed after a stressful day and waking up the next morning feeling completely refreshed is the greatest pleasure of a person’s life’. (Voted no 1 pleasure, study)
Getting into a bed with freshly washed sheets was voted into 6th place in the list of life’s greatest pleasures. Both 1st and 6th places in terms of greatest pleasures are related to sleep. (The Telegraph)
Read – Ayurvedic Herbs To Improve Sleep: Chronological List

Sanskrit Verses

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep and Pleasure

REM is a special stage of sleep. Our bodies and brains cycle through different kinds of sleep every couple of hours when we are asleep. More deep sleep and slow wave sleep in the beginning cycles of sleep help in resetting the body and mind. Healing is at its best in one’s deep sleep. Both these calm down, clear it-self and make space for new memories and experiences the following day. These stages can be refreshing and pleasurable and especially so after a hard day’s work. That still might not be real fun.

In REM it appears as if different bits of brain are rehearsing different events which occurred during different parts of the day while one was awake. It appears that the ‘parts of day time working brain’ are trying to make a coherent reality while in this part of sleep. These are small non-realities in dreams which might either disturb or entertain us. All senses are experienced and one would have a big emotional ride. One might workout strategies, do unusual tasks which one has always planned to do and not able to accomplish, experience terror and exuberance or even fight or fall in love with someone. One may also lose and win in this part of the sleep. Scary parts become nightmares. The faint parts become dreams, some remembered, many not.

Tracking down the sleep patterns and knowing what is happening and why helps in working towards qualitative and good quantitative sleep which in turn leads to pleasure. Now we have gadgets sleep trackers and wearable devices doing that for us. This shows that the building up awareness about healthy sleeping in the society.
Read – Insomnia: Causes And Treatment As Per Ayurveda

Sleep Deprivation Induced Euphoria

While sleep deprivation can give displeasure, unhappiness and pain, prolonged sleep deprivation can also give one the feelings of euphoria or a high. This condition is short lived and has its negative outcomes. It is called as sleep deprivation induced euphoria.

When does this happen?
You may just feel drowsy or lethargic when you have lost just a few hours of sleep. On the other hand when you happen to miss a full night’s sleep or even more than that you may experience sleep deprivation induced euphoria. This can make you feel content, motivated and happy for just a short period of time. Short term euphoria is a side effect of sleep deprivation. This causes a temporary high.

Sleep deprivation –> Boosts activity in part of the brain driven by dopamine (linked to brain’s reward center) –> Pleasure circuits of the brain get a big boost + increased activity in mesolimbic pathway of the brain which is driven by dopamine (dopamine regulates feelings of happiness, motivation, addiction, cravings, sex drive and decision making) –> Sleep deprivation induced euphoria –> Affects mood in short term –> Flooding with endorphins –> Makes one feel elated, happy, motivated and content (for short duration)
Read – Day Sleep – Sleeping In The Day: Rules, Benefits, Contra Indications

Symptoms of sleep deprivation euphoria include –

  • feelings of extreme happiness
  • excitement
  • self confidence
  • highly inflated feelings of optimism
  • signs of profound joy (giddiness, laughter, smiling)

From a negative perspective, euphoria occurring from lack of sleep can also cause –

Risks of Sleep Deprivation Euphoria

It looks good and seems advantageous when one experiences short term feelings of positivity due to the release of dopamine. But this can prove to be unfavorable. This happens when one makes an impulsive decision due to overly optimistic thoughts. Professionals who make crucial safety decisions on day to day basis should be aware of the effects of insufficient sleep. They include doctors, pilots, drivers etc. (Read more)

Prefrontal cortex part of the brain is responsible for decision making and planning. Amygdala region of the brain regulates the fight or flight reflex. Sleep deprivation shuts down the prefrontal cortex and activates amygdale. These events further affect one’s ability to make wise and thoughtful decisions.

Sleep deprivation euphoria has various risks associated with it (Nereida Gonzalez Berrios – Texas psychiatrist) –

New research works puts forth sleep as a major public health concern. It shows that the effects of a good night’s sleep are as beneficial for our happiness and well being as winning the lottery might be.
New research – ‘Good sleep quality drastically increases happiness and should be promoted as a public health value’.
In a study conducted by Dr Tang and colleagues to examine the sleep patterns in U.K. across a period of 4 years, analyzing many variables, one of the key findings pointed a relationship between sleep and pleasure. The researchers noted that ‘the score improvements were also comparable with the average increase in well-being measured in lottery winners 2 years after a $250,000 jackpot win’.
‘Better sleep feels like 8 weeks of therapy or winning a quarter of a million’ – study tells.

Researchers also found that insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality can worsen medical conditions and emotional stress. Both can lessen pleasure and happiness.
The quality of sleep was found to be more important than the quantity of sleep. This accounted for the largest beneficial effects on health.

According to Dr Tang improvement of sleep behaviors is important for health and happiness of general population and not just to those with acute sleep disorders.
Positive change in sleep is linked to better physical and mental wellbeing and has extreme healing potential even outside of clinical trial settings.
Read – How To Improve Your Child’s Sleep? 16 Ayurveda Tips

According to psychologist Norbert Schwarz – ‘Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night’ (Source: Barnett)
Stress causes insomnia. This insomnia can further increase stress and create displeasure, mood swings and many other symptoms of mental imbalance. Stress induced insomnia has been linked with increased risk for anxiety disorders and depression (American Academy of Sleep Medicine).

Happiness and pleasure also depends on our relationships. Lack of sleep increases stress. Stress can meddle with our personal relationships. This will ruin our happiness and pleasure at social levels.
Research study in 2007 [source: Jayson] – Our emotions can run wild without sleep but you are not likely to get happy out of an all-nighter, rather, the emotional centers that were activated were those connected to depression. One should get enough sleep each night to ensure maximum levels of happiness.
(Read more)

Yet another study showed how a good sleep predicts life satisfaction. It showed that the sleep quality predicted the participant’s life satisfaction. More good quantity and quality sleep would make us happier, healthier and safer. There is a great deal of supporting evidence that exercise, good nutrition and sleep are associated with improved mental well being. This in turn is the source of happiness and pleasure.

Daniel Kahneman and Alan B. Krueger (researchers) found in their research on life satisfaction a direct correlation between sleep quality and overall happiness. They found sleep quality was the single most influential factor in rating daily mood also. One cannot say for sure that people who sleep more are happier or people who are happier get more sleep. But studies have shown that getting enough sleep will lead one to better health and greater happiness. Research suggests how much we sleep is linked to our overall happiness. When one gets sleep deprived the risk for depression increases and one is more likely to experience higher stress levels. (Read more)


Sukha is a term which includes pleasure, happiness, joy and many other feelings and emotions of wellbeing. The definition of sukha may vary from person to person and there are many factors which contribute towards sukha. Nidra i.e. sleep is one such factor which contributes towards sukha – pleasure and happiness, peace of mind and balance of physical and mental health. All the above explanation and modern research works related to ‘sleep and pleasure’ too explain the same. This shows the wisdom of Ayurveda is eternal and a small part of a verse explaining the benefits of good sleep and harmful effects of imbalanced sleep i.e. ‘nidrayattam sukham’ i.e. ‘sleep contributes towards happiness and pleasure’ appears to be true in all eras and for people for all ages. It is a statement of utmost value and is also an underlined testament. In the modern day busy schedules of our life we either are sleep deprived or are managing poor quality and quantity of sleep.

Insomnia and sleep deprivation are burning issues and serious problems of modern day. It is a problem for which many people consult doctor, seeking help to sleep well. Our body and mind behave as we train them. Sleep too does the same. The more we train the sleep, the more we keep it in balance, the more the pleasure and happiness it provides. A badly managed sleep on long run may put us into serious trouble by exposing us to wide array of psychosomatic disorders. So it is wise to sleep well and sleep smart.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Skype

8 comments on “Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep

  • Bhargav

    11/09/2014 - 6:54 pm

    Your article is definitely going to remind me each night as it is stuck in my head now!. I have experienced all the symptoms mentioned by you for not sleeping in time, watching TV etc.. Henceforth, I will totally unwind myself and hit the bed before 12 midnight-possibly by 11 pm. Thanks for this article.

    Reply to comment
  • rangnath kulkarni

    12/09/2014 - 9:32 am

    Is it proper to retire to bed soon after taking dinner?why should curd be avoided in night?

    Reply to comment
  • HRK

    12/09/2014 - 3:38 pm

    Your article just explains me why does Akshay Kumar say that he goes to bed at 9pm..
    I wish you keep up the good work by writing such good articles Dr. Hebbar

    Reply to comment
  • Savita Vashishtha

    19/09/2014 - 8:24 pm

    Really impressed,Dr Hebbar,lots of thanks.

    Reply to comment
  • Savita Vashishtha

    19/09/2014 - 8:36 pm

    About tridoshas,I felt really impressed.The problem being faced by me is how to know my real nature.

    Reply to comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Easy Ayurveda Video Classes

Buy Online Video Courses

Buy Easy Ayurveda Books