The 3 Ayurveda-Based Sleep Personalities & How To Work With Yours
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine from India that's been trusted for over 5,000 years. Based on the idea of balancing the elements in the body for greater overall well-being, there's an emphasis on preventive practices to maintain health rather than cure sickness.
Many of those practices depend on the doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. According to ayurveda, every person has the three doshas in them, but one is more prominent. These "health types" each have their own dietary and exercise recommendations—and sleep habits.
To find out more about how each of the three doshas catch their zzz's and how to improve sleep for each type, we spoke with double board-certified doctor and ayurveda expert Amy Shah, M.D.
The vata sleeper.
Vata is associated with air and space. This type is all about movement, energy, flexibility, and creativity. Their sleep personality is "worried," Shah explains.
"This kind of person has a lot of worries and anxieties before bed. Their mind is going a million miles per hour, and they're trying to wind down—but the mind keeps going," she says. "This kind of sleeper will really benefit from a nighttime routine, so they should try journaling or taking a bath before bed. Having a routine at a set time every night will help train the body that this is the time to go to bed." Nighttime rituals go a long way for a good night's sleep—and who couldn't use a reason to take more baths?
The pitta sleeper.
Pittas are the "night owl" sleeper. This type is associated with fire, and pittas are often high achievers who are constantly busy. This can make it hard to settle in when bedtime comes around.
"I know a lot of you can relate to this kind of sleep disturbance," Shah says, "where around 9 or 10 o'clock you get a second wind even though you were quite tired in the late afternoon. This is why Netflix and Instagram and all the things that disturb your night's sleep happen." Even dim blue light delays your melatonin production, so if you're turning on your devices to relax, you'll wind up doing the opposite and delaying the onset of sleep.
To mitigate this, Shah recommends anticipating that second burst of energy and doing something that doesn't involve a screen, like reading a book. "You really do want to stop blue light exposure 90 minutes before the time you think you're going to go to bed."
The kapha sleeper.
Kaphas are the "sleep-a-lot-but-still-tired" sleeper. Linked to earth and water, this type has a grounding energy. Typically calm and easygoing, kaphas can be prone to lethargy and stagnation.
"Kaphas in ayurveda often feel very heavy, tired, and sleepy," Shah explains. "And they'll sleep for long periods of time but still wake up lethargic. This can be a signal that they may have some deeper sleep issues, like sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances."
Feeling constantly fatigued can be caused by any number of things from a nutrient deficiency to poor gut health to inflammation. So as with anything, if troublesome symptoms like poor sleep and fatigue are prolonged, Shah says to get it checked out. (And for some actionable ways to improve your quality of sleep, check out this holistic psychologist's tips.)
Getting a good night's sleep consistently is so important to our overall health. It gives our bodies and minds time to recharge, improves our brain function, and even helps with maintaining a healthy gut. By knowing our sleep type and acting on it, we can all sleep a little easier—starting tonight!
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.