It is just as certain that modern life fights against nature’s requirement for 8 to 9 hours of sound sleep for the average adult. Most people have adjusted to shorter sleep, interrupted sleep, or insomnia in the belief that they can get away with sleep deficits.
But if we turn to the knowledge derived from Ayurveda, a better picture emerges for how to view poor sleep and how to return to perfect sleep—no one should settle for less.
Of the three doshas, Vata leads the way both going out of balance and coming back into balance. Vata is quick to change; it responds to even small changes and disruptions in your daily routine; and out of balance it creates the fatigue, impatience, lethargy, sensitivity to minor stress, and lack of clear thinking that all well-known symptoms of sleep deprivation and poor sleep.
When you take good care of Vata dosha, you are taking the simplest, most effective way to return to perfect sleep, the kind that babies and children enjoy effortlessly.
First, let’s start with a checklist so that you can see where you might be getting Vata out of balance in your daily lifestyle.
Vata Is Disrupted Whenever You …
- Get exhausted
- Push yourself out of your comfort zone
- Feel sad, depressed, or anxious
- Experience soreness or pain, even minor pains
- Haven’t had enough sleep the night before
- Expose your body to toxins (drugs, alcohol, tobacco)
- Feel stress and pressure in your life
- Go too long without food
- Allow yourself to become dehydrated
- Exposure to excessive noise
Having looked at the factors that throw Vata out of balance, ask yourself which causes that you spotted are chronic (lasting more than a month or two) and which are temporary—it’s the chronic causes that create the worst symptoms of Vata imbalance, including poor sleep.
Therefore, the chronic causes are the squeaky wheel that need the oil, or in this case, reversing the conditions that persistently keep your Vata from naturally returning to a balanced state. All doshas naturally return to balance if you get out of the way.
The purpose of Vata dosha is to bring joy, freshness, vitality, animation, creativity, and vibrancy into your life. This is its normal function, so even without delving deeper into Ayurveda, you know instinctively whether your life contains these all-important ingredients.
The chronic condition that dominates most people’s lives is known medically as overload of the involuntary nervous system, which is lay person’s terms means exposing yourself to so many small causes of Vata imbalance that the processes automatically controlled by your nervous system, such as heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, hormonal balance, and various biorhythms, are constantly under stress. The stress is low level and creates no medical symptoms, yet over time damage is done that can lead to lifestyle disorders.
So once you’ve taken a hard look at the persistent causes of Vata imbalance in your life, the key is to get back into balance by reversing this overload of the involuntary nervous system. The best sleep results when you restore Vata to its natural balanced state.
Vata Restoration Routine
- Set up a regular daily routine and stick to it.
- Eat sensibly at regular intervals without skipping meals.
- Arrange your day after work hours to maximize relaxation.
- Find ways to be experience joy every day.
- Go out into Nature as often as possible—a relaxing evening walk makes a good start.
- Make sure you stretch and move once an hour during the day.
- Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes of down time several times a day.
- Practice meditation or yoga.
- Make your work and home environment as quiet and calm as you can.
- Eat a healthy whole-foods diet, preferably organic.
- Stay well hydrated during the day.
- Attend to small aches and pains. Don’t exert yourself to the point of muscle soreness.
Once you have an overall picture of Vata, both in and out of balance, you can approach sleep not as a specific issue but as one facet of Vata as it affects your entire life. The human nervous system holds the key to every other system in the body as well as to your state of awareness. There is every reason to make your life creative and joyful, yet in modern society people make small adaptations to abnormal conditions that little by little encroach on the perfect operation of the nervous system.
The attitude to take is “No more”—no more giving in to the daily conditions or habits that are not normal if you want to experience joy and creativity. Settling for poor sleep is never an isolated choice. It is wrapped up in your vision of who you are and what your life should be. With that in mind, Ayurveda can show you how to bring Vata, the leading dosha, back to its role in providing joy and creativity. This is a goal worth pursuing for everyone.
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