Sleep Physiology, Tridosha Effect, Benefits Of Good Night Sleep

Samskar Ebyaha asked – Can you explain more on the splitting up of the night into 3 aspect? What happens distinctly during these times?
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 and Ayurveda

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

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.

How to sleep? Sanskrit verse

Related: How To Wake Up Early In The Morning? – 10 Ayurveda Tips 

How to sleep?
The Kaiyadeva nighantu in vihAravarga chapter explains the shayana vidhi as follows.
After the day long and hectic activity, in the night over the sleeping time, one should offer his prayers to the God, teacher and the Sage of his lineage before settling over the bed for his sleep.
Select a clean place, devoid of any busy activities or crowd [an-AvakIrNa], which should be two to three times of length and breadth of one’s physique [dvitri] readied for sleeping by one’s trusted servant [aptaparicarakaH].
The cushion of bed selected for sleep [yukta upadhAnaM] should be clean [vimalaM], comfort providing [sukhaM], mrudu [soft] and measuring to accommodate one’s breadth and length of the physique [sva AstIrNaM vistIrNaM].
The height of the cot placed with the cushion bed should be on par with the position of one’s knee joint, so that it serves the dual purpose of sleeping and sitting over the couch [shubhaM seveta shayana AsanaM].
One should not sleep in south east direction with the head over the east end and the leg over the south end [to avoid disrespecting the lord of death Yama, whose abode lies over in the direction of south].
In the direction of east-west with the head and foot respectively placed in those directions, one should place himself for sleeping. In case if one has the habit of conversing or thinking before sleep, one should always think about righteous things or positive thoughts [dharmam eva anucintayet].
Thus when above such favourable situation ensues [svapna anukUle], one will start experience a sound and undisturbed sleep [puShTi nidrA sukha].
The sound and undisturbed sleep allays the vata dosha, removes the exhaustion and provides rigorousness to one’s physique [ shrama vRuShya]. On the contrary a disturbed sleep results in the opposite effects like increases the vata dosha, causes exhaustion and makes a person get weakened. .

भूम्यां शय्या वातहरी बृंहणी बलशुक्रकृत् ||३४३||
Sleeping over the floor technically pacifies the vAta, improves ones physical strength and virility by the virtue of its bruhmana (enlivening) property.

खट्वायां वातला दारुप- रूक्षातिवातला |
The sleep over a Khatva or wooden cot due to the exposure to the dryness aggravates the vAta doSha.

आन्दोलिका श्रमहरा चायुष्या वीर्यवर्धनी ||३४४|| वातघ्नं स्वेदहृत् हृद्यं यशस्यं पुष्टिवर्धनम् |

The Andolika / Swing when used for sleeping reduces the physical tiredness, promotes longevity and vigour.
The sleeping over Andolika reduces the vAta doSha, soothes the physique by reducing the sweating, and tones up the heart. Furthermore it promotes the physical bulkiness and fitness [puShTi vardhanam].

तल्पं चैव मेदोघ्नं त्वक्प्रसादनम् ||३४५||
The talpam / sofa / couch provides asperity of health, carves the physique by reducing the corpulence, and improves the texture of skin.

Note on sleep as per Bhojana Kutuhalam

According to Bhojana Kutuhalam eleventh chapter, A person should lie down in supine position for the first eight breaths, then he should sleep on his right side for twice of that number i.e sixteen breaths, later he should sleep on the left side for the twice of the previously mentioned number i.e thirty two breaths and finally he should sleep as per his comfort.

In all the living beings the digestive fire is located on the left side above the navel, hence to promote the metabolism one should lie down on the left side.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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


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