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Hack Your Sleep Schedule by Understanding Ayurveda’s 3 Stages of Sleep

Photo: Courtesy of Sahara Rose

Your cellphone and desk job might be sabotaging your sleep, but incorporating practices from Ayurveda, the world’s oldest health system, might help you get longer, higher-quality shuteye.

Within Ayurveda, there are three energetic sources, called doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. They correspond to day/night cycles, says Sahara Rose, a certified health coach and author of the book “Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda.” Each four-hour-long dosha occurs twice in a 24-hour day. Understanding these stages can help you understand your sleep schedule and encourage self-care.

“Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. is kapha time. And kapha time is the time you should be really winding down your day — it’s the time that the sun sets,” Rose says. “That’s when we should do our nightly routine practices.” Meanwhile, the pitta time begins at 10 p.m., when the body is ideally asleep. “That’s when we get our second wind of energy — when we’re wanting to clean the house or decorate … and that’s going to keep you up probably until 2 a.m., because 2 a.m. is when we shift into vata time, until 6 a.m.”

The importance of a routine

To set yourself up for success, think of sleep like you do sex, Rose recommends. “Sleep requires foreplay. You’re not going to be able to suddenly shut down and go straight to sleep. It requires some time,” she says. Foreplay for sleep happens during kapha. During this time, Rose suggests, you should be staying away from electronics — at least two hours before bed (or using blue-light-blocking glasses if not) — eating a light dinner, lighting candles, dry brushing, using oils and potentially doing meditation or nighttime yoga practice. “Ayurveda would say to put yourself in bed by 10 p.m., even if you’re not asleep; that’s just going to help train your body that this is the time that we relax,” she says.

Photo: Courtesy of Eat Feel Fresh

Getting your body in tune with the rhythms of the world by waking up before the sun rises, before vata, and getting at least 20 minutes of direct daytime sunlight can also help.

“Being awake before the sun allows you to tune into the subtle vibrations before the world is awake — and everyone’s going, and the energy is more overt — and to tune in with yourself,” Rose says.

Melinda Carter, [email protected]

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