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By Nadia Marshall
When people suffer from disturbed sleep or insomnia... or even if they just regularly need to pee in the middle of the night, the time they usually wake up is between 2-3am. Why is this?
Well, from an Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha predominate at different times of life, different seasons but also different times of the day. Kapha is the most prevalent dosha from 6am-10am in the morning and 6am-10pm at night, Pitta prevails from 10am - 2pm and 10pm-2am... and Vata is king from 2pm-6pm and also 2am-6am. These times vary slightly depending on our location, the time of year and when the sunrises and sets but these are a good general guide.
At 2am, the pre-dawn atmosphere becomes very clear, ethereal, light and cold... and it is a time of change and transition, when the night is on the verge of turning into the day - all Vata-type qualities. As Vata increases in the environment, it also increases in our bodies and minds. As a result, our sleep can become a little lighter and our nervous system (governed by Vata) becomes more active at this time. If we have a full-ish bladder, our urge to go to the loo (elimination is governed by Vata) will become stronger at this time and that, combined with our lighter sleep might be enough to wake us up. If we have a Vata constitution, a Vata imbalance or it is a Vata predominant season (like Autumn) we'll be even more inclined to wake up at this time. We'll also be more likely to have a busy or agitated mind, again thanks to Vata, that can quickly become over-active or anxious, making falling asleep again very difficult.
Thankfully, where there is an excess of certain qualities, there is always an antidote in Ayurveda. Vata is cold, light, dry, rough, mobile and changeable. So the medicine is warmth, heaviness, oiliness, stillness and routine. A small, warm milk before bed with ghee, nutmeg and jaggery; massaging the feet with warm oil before bed; doing a shiro-picchu before bed and using a warm, heavy blanket on the feet can all help to pacify Vata. Slowing down generally, eating meals at regular times and having a good daily routine (especially a good evening routine - with low lighting and minimal stimulation) will also help enormously.
Agni - the digestive fire.
Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.
Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.
Dhatus - the tissues of the body.
Srotas - the channels of the body.
Vata - the air/ether
intelligence in the body.
Pitta- the fire/water
intelligence in the body.
Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.
Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.
Rajas- the quality of
turbulence and activity.
Tamas- the quality of
dullness, darkness and inertia.
Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)
Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)
Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)
Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice
Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue
Rakta - blood tissue
Mamsa - muscle tissue
Meda - fat tissue
Asthi - bone tissue
Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue
Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue