Sleep Better with Ayurveda

Sleep Better with Ayurveda

by Kottakkal Support December 14, 2023


At some point in our life, most of us will struggle with getting good quality sleep. Sleeplessness and chronic fatigue are increasingly common problems for many people. Sometimes, the loss of sleep is temporary, like staying up late traveling or studying for a test. Other times, it is chronic—and that’s when health problems can arise.

Sleep is essential for good health, which is why the Ayurvedic text Caraka Samhita Sutrasthāna 21 goes into detail about the causes of poor quality sleep versus healthy sleep. Caraka defines sleep as a state of exhaustion and when asleep, the manas (mind), jnana indriyas (sensory organs like the eyes) and karma indriyas (motor organs like the limbs) withdraw and disassociate from the physical self. Caraka categorizes seven types of sleep, tamas (lethargy), excess kapha, mental exertion, physical exertion, stress and/or trauma, disease or pain, and healthy natural sleep.

What Does Quality Sleep Look Like?

Bhutadhatri, is a Sanskrit word for “what nourishes or rejuvenates all living creatures,” and is the name used to describe high-quality restorative sleep that is achieved without medication. Quality sleep looks different from person to person, depending on the person’s physiological needs such as age, birth constitution, imbalanced doshas, work schedule and stress. Quality sleep leads to a feeling of happiness, nourishment, strength, mental clarity, and wellbeing.

First Step Toward Quality Sleep

The most tried and true method for maintaining or restoring a natural sleep cycle is to wake up about one hour before sunrise as this will keep your circadian rhythm balanced. This time is known as brahma muhurta, which is a 48-minute period that begins one hour and 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise. It is considered the best time for self-reflection and self-care. Waking up in this window of time has many positive health benefits.

Symptoms of Poor Quality Sleep

Ayurveda refers to poor quality sleep as “anidra” which means sleeplessness. Ayurveda recognizes it as a disorder of kapha kashaya (depleted kapha dosa) and vata vriddhi (excess vata dosa). So, all factors that decrease kapha and increase vata will cause anidra. Scientific studies have shown that natural sleep plays an important role in regulating neuroendocrine, hormonal, and metabolic function. Due to the modern lifestyle, both adults and children are progressively getting less sleep while simultaneously enduring more stressful activities(1).

Caraka includes both sthoulya (obesity) and aruchi (anorexia) as potential outcomes of either excessive sleep or the lack of sleep. Studies show with prolonged periods of sleep deprivation, there is an increased risk for weight gain and obesity, along with metabolic and endocrine disruptions. Increased insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, elevated sympathovagal activity, elevated levels of serum glucocorticoid hormone, increased levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin are also symptoms of sleep deprivation(1).

What Causes Poor Quality Sleep?

  • Unresolved emotions of fear, anxiety, and anger
  • Excessive stress caused by work or relationships
  • Fasting or loss of appetite
  • Uncomfortable bed or room temperature
  • Increased vata or decreased kapha
  • Disorders related to vata dosha and/or pain
  • Vata time of life or elder years
  • Vata prakriti or birth constitution

When to Sleep During the Day

According to Caraka Samhita Sutrasthana 21, sleeping during the day is only recommended if you are exhausted from singing, studying, drinking alcohol, panchakarma therapy, carrying heavy weights, walking long distances, fasting, ill with diarrhea, colic pain, dyspnea, or hiccup, as well as people who are children, elderly, injured, traveling, or are consumed with emotions of anger, grief, or fear.

During the summer when the nights are shorter, vata becomes aggravated from the effects of the adana kala (sun moving northward with increasing daylight hours) due to the bodies extra absorption of heat and light. Therefore, during the longer days of summer when the heat and light is increased sleep is recommended for anyone who feels tired.

For healthy people, sleeping during the day is contraindicated during all other times of the year. When a healthy person sleeps during the day it aggravates both pitta and kapha dosha and offsets our hormonal balance that is connected to the circadian rhythm.

For certain health conditions, sleeping during the day is contradicted for obesity, those who overindulge in kapha increasing foods, kapha birth constitution and/or kapha imbalance. These conditions will experience increased kapha symptoms, including headaches, coldness, muscle fatigue, malaise, loss of digestive power, edema, nausea, rhinitis, itching, drowsiness, coughing, disorders of the throat, obstruction of the circulatory channels, fever, impairment of memory and intelligence and slowing of the sensory organs.

How to Promote Healthy Sleep

  • Daily Abhyanga oil massage followed by warm bathing
  • Meat based soups from domestic, marshy, or aquatic animals
  • Drink warm milk with nutmeg before bed
  • Sleep on a comfortable bed in a cooler room
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule, wake us one hour before sunrise
  • Practice yoga and meditation in the early morning hours
  • Avoid eating or snacking three hours before bedtime
  • Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcohol, and smoking

Herbal Products to Support Sleep

Manasamitra Vatakam balances vata dosha and the nervous system. The main herbs are Vacha and shilajatu which supports and nourishes the brain and nerves, helps improve memory and concentration, and supports sound sleep.

Aswagandha Tablets balance vata dosha and supports sound sleep, balances brain activity and the nervous system. Aswagandha has antioxidant qualities that support the immune system and help balance the stress hormones.

Aswagandha Churnam balances vata dosha and supports sleep, brain activity, and the nervous system. Its antioxidant qualities support the immune system and help balance stress hormones.

Brahmi Caps help balance vata dosha. The main ingredient brahmi is a well-known herbal tonic that supports memory and concentration and helps promote a calmer mind and sounder sleep.

Brahmi Ghritam helps balance vata dosha, supports brain and nerve health, improves focus and concentration, and sound sleep.

Yoga Therapy for Sleeplessness

The Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha Department of AYUSH has recommended the following yoga therapy as beneficial for Insomnia (3).

  • Pranayama: Chandra anuloma viloma, Ujjai, Bhramari, cooling pranayama, and meditation along with practicing Yama and Niyama.
  • Asana: Suryanamaskra, Tadasana, Matsyasana, Mandkasana, Bhujangasana, Padmasana, Paschimottanasana and shavasana.
  • Yoga Nidra: deep rest and relaxation technique.

Ayurvedic Consultation

Kottakkal is committed to offering the highest quality Ayurvedic Healthcare. We offer two ways to have an Ayurvedic consultation. 1. Free 15-minute Consultation with our Ayurvedic practitioner, Julie Wardwell, for when you need a product recommendation for a basic health problem. 2. In-depth Consultation with our Ayurvedic doctor, Vaidya Vishwanath Guddadar for when your condition is chronic with multiple symptoms.


  1. Karine Spiegel, Rachel Leproult, BS, Eve Van Cauter.: Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9188, 23 October 1999, Pages 1435–1439.
  2. Caraka Samhita Sutrasthāna 21/35-59
  3. Ayurvedic Management of Select Geriatric Disease Conditions, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda, and Siddha Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, 2011.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and information are not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the advice of a trained Ayurvedic professional, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at We will provide you with information to consult with Ayurvedic professionals. Always check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.


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