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A SCIENTIFIC AYURVEDIC EXPLORATION OF CONCEPT OF SLEEP (NIDRA)

Authors:
  • Ch Brham Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan
  • Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, New Delhi
Review Article
A SCIENTIFIC AYURVEDIC EXPLORATION OF CONCEPT
Pooja Sabharwal1
, Sonali Shilpa Ekka
1
Assistant Professor, PG Department of Rachna Sharir,
3
Prof. & H.O.D., PG Department of Kriya Sharir,
Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, Khe
5
Associate Professor, Department of Rachna Shari
Email: drpoojasabharwal@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Sleep plays a very essential role in our well being and good health throughout our life. If a person gets enough
good quality and quantity of sleep in his/her day to day l
life span, protecting mental and physical health. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain
func
tions and maintain your physical health. In children and teenagers, sleep also help
development of body and mind. Regular and good quality sleep is important for proper brain functioning,
emotional wellbeing, physical health and daytime performances and activities. As we all know that adult needs 7
8 hours of sleep each ni
ght to be well rested. A night of good and relaxed sleep is incredibly important. In fact, it
is as important as food to our body. Nowadays People are sleeping less than they used to did in past as a result
sleep quality has de
creased. Sleep is very import
cognition, memory, con
can occur such as anxie
ty, depression, stress etc. and poor memory, difficulty focusi
sleepiness, lethargy, tiredness, morning headaches etc. can occur.
development as breathing air. No matter what age you are, sleep plays a role in helping your body reset, repair,
and regenerate. In Ayurveda, Nidra
(sleep) comes under tripod of life i.e. support or pillar of life.
Keywords: Nidra,
Insomnia, hypersomnia
INTRODUCTION
Sleep is an unconsciousness from which the person
can be aroused by sensory or other stimuli. Duration
and requirement of
sleep varies with age and
indi
vidual. It varies from person to person. On an
average a human subject sleeps for 1/3
rd
According to A
yurvedic view point,
func
tionally important. It is an essential
INTERNATIONAL
AYURVEDIC
MEDICAL JOURNAL
ISSN: 2320 5091
A SCIENTIFIC AYURVEDIC EXPLORATION OF CONCEPT
OF SLEEP (NIDRA)
, Sonali Shilpa Ekka
2, M.B. Gaur3, Yogesh Kumar Pandey4
, Amit Kumar Sharma
Assistant Professor, PG Department of Rachna Sharir,
2
PG Scholar, Department of Kriya Sharir,
Prof. & H.O.D., PG Department of Kriya Sharir,
4Associate Professor,
PG Department of Kaya Chikitsa;
Ch. Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan, Khe
ra Dabar, Najafgarh, New Delhi, India;
Associate Professor, Department of Rachna Shari
r, A&U Tibia College, New Delhi, India
Sleep plays a very essential role in our well being and good health throughout our life. If a person gets enough
good quality and quantity of sleep in his/her day to day l
ife, it provides many benefits including good health, good
life span, protecting mental and physical health. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain
tions and maintain your physical health. In children and teenagers, sleep also help
development of body and mind. Regular and good quality sleep is important for proper brain functioning,
emotional wellbeing, physical health and daytime performances and activities. As we all know that adult needs 7
ght to be well rested. A night of good and relaxed sleep is incredibly important. In fact, it
is as important as food to our body. Nowadays People are sleeping less than they used to did in past as a result
creased. Sleep is very import
ant for various aspects of functions of brain. This includes
centration, performance and productivity. Due to sleep deprivation many sleep disorders
ty, depression, stress etc. and poor memory, difficulty focusi
ng, excessive daytime
sleepiness, lethargy, tiredness, morning headaches etc. can occur.
Sleep is just as vital to our growth and
development as breathing air. No matter what age you are, sleep plays a role in helping your body reset, repair,
(sleep) comes under tripod of life i.e. support or pillar of life.
Insomnia, hypersomnia
Sleep is an unconsciousness from which the person
can be aroused by sensory or other stimuli. Duration
sleep varies with age and
vidual. It varies from person to person. On an
rd
of his life1.
yurvedic view point,
Nidra is
tionally important. It is an essential
physiological phenomenon which occurs
to day life. Since it is a part of normal physiology, it
gives rest and relaxation to our body, mind and
senses, which gets tired and exhausted due to wear
and tear process occurring in our daily life. When
mind is exhausted and
indriyas
from their object then the individual sleep
Impact Factor: 4.018
OF SLEEP (NIDRA)
, Amit Kumar Sharma
5
PG Scholar, Department of Kriya Sharir,
PG Department of Kaya Chikitsa;
Sleep plays a very essential role in our well being and good health throughout our life. If a person gets enough
ife, it provides many benefits including good health, good
life span, protecting mental and physical health. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain
tions and maintain your physical health. In children and teenagers, sleep also help
s in growth and
development of body and mind. Regular and good quality sleep is important for proper brain functioning,
emotional wellbeing, physical health and daytime performances and activities. As we all know that adult needs 7
-
ght to be well rested. A night of good and relaxed sleep is incredibly important. In fact, it
is as important as food to our body. Nowadays People are sleeping less than they used to did in past as a result
ant for various aspects of functions of brain. This includes
centration, performance and productivity. Due to sleep deprivation many sleep disorders
ng, excessive daytime
Sleep is just as vital to our growth and
development as breathing air. No matter what age you are, sleep plays a role in helping your body reset, repair,
(sleep) comes under tripod of life i.e. support or pillar of life.
physiological phenomenon which occurs
in our day
to day life. Since it is a part of normal physiology, it
gives rest and relaxation to our body, mind and
senses, which gets tired and exhausted due to wear
and tear process occurring in our daily life. When
indriyas
withdraw themselves
from their object then the individual sleep
2. Hence,
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1296
nidra is considered as one of the essential
components of life. In our classical texts, Ahara,
Nidra and Brahmacharya are given primary
importance under tripod of life i.e.
‘Trayopastambah’. When these three are practiced
well in our life, it will provide strength, complexion
and compactness to the individuals’ body3.
Nidra when taken properly in good quality and
quantity will provide Sukh (happiness), Pushti
(nourishment and growth), Bala (strength and
immunity), Vrishta (potency and sexual vigor),
Gyaanam (knowledge and intellect) and Jeevitam
(good life span and longevity of life). On the other
hand, an abnormal sleep in terms of quality and
quantity (inadequate, excessive or irregular) will
provide opposite qualities or the harmful effects i.e.
Dukh (grief and misery), Karshyam (weakness or
emaciation), Abalam (loss of strength and
immunity), Kleebata (impotency and sterility),
Agyanam (ignorance and non-intellect) and
Ajeevitam (death)4.
Nidra has been described as one of three essential
supports for the health. Both the less and excessive
conditions of sleep are harmful to health. The three
triads of life or the three supports i.e. Ahara, Nidra
and Brahmacharya designated as Upstambhas or the
secondary supports of life. Proper and undisturbed
sleep is one of the most important factors of the life.
Acharya Charaka, describes that happiness, misery,
nourishment, emaciation, strength, weakness,
virility, sterility, knowledge, ignorance, life and
death. Like proper diet, proper sleep is also very
essential for the maintenance of the body. The sleep
when properly enjoyed, brings about happiness and
longevity in human beings as the real knowledge
brings about siddhi i.e. spiritual power in yogi’s5.
Sleeping and awakening in right and balanced
quantity quality proceeds an individual towards
happiness.
Nidra is a very important phenomenon which
provides rest and relaxation to the body, mind and
senses when they get tired and exhausted. When the
mind including sensory and motor organs is
exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their
objects, then the individual sleeps.
According to Acharya Sushruta, Hridya is the seat
of consciousness and when it is dominated or
covered by tamas, and then the person gets sleep6. It
is a natural process.
TYPES OF SLEEP
Table 1: Different opinions of various Acharya’s -
ACHARYA CHARAKA
7
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
8
AACHARYA VAGBHATTA
9
1. Tamobhava 1. Vaishnavi Nidra 1. Kalasvabhawajanya Nidra
2. Shleshma-samudbhava 2. Tamsi Nidra 2. Aamayjanya Nidra
3. Manah-sharir-shrama-sambhava 3. Tamobhuyishtha Nidra 3. Chitta-khedajanya Nidra
4. Aagantuki 5. Satvabhuyishtha Nidra 5. Kaphajanya Nidra
5. Vyadhyanuvartini 6. Vaikariki Nidra 6. Aagantu Nidra
6. Ratrisvabhava-prabhava 7. Tamobhava Nidra
SLEEP ACCORDING TO EACH DOSHAS
During the period of sleep, each individual will not
experience the same type and same pattern of sleep.
Each individual is different and can experience
similar yet non-identical type of sleep.
Vata prakriti person will experience light,
irregular and short duration of sleep. However,
vata person would benefit with more rest.
Symptoms of teeth grinding, sleepwalking and
sleep talking are common. Dreams tend to be
airy in nature, he will see that he’s flying in air
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1297
etc. Since vata types are light sleepers, they can
easily wake during the night without being able
to fall back asleep. Vata
Dominant individuals often need 6-7 hours of
sleep.
Pitta prakriti person will experience sound sleep
but also light. Generally, the amount of sleep is
moderate, but they often forego sleep when
preoccupied. Dreams tend to be wild, fiery, and
vivid. Falling back asleep after waking up in the
night is not troublesome. However, if the mind
is overactive and stimulated, it will be difficult
to fall back asleep. Pitta dominant individuals
often need 7-8 hours of sleep to feel refresh.
Kapha prakriti person will experience deep and
sound sleep, heavy and stubborn. Meaning, they
are not easily disturbed or woken. They have a
tendency to oversleep, even though they don’t
need to sleep for long periods.
Kapha people need 8-9 hours of sleep.
PERIOD OF SLEEP
One feels sleepy during the night because of the
calm and quiet environmental conditions and
increase of tamas. During day, bright light and
various noises have stimulating effects and keep a
person awake and alert. Similarly, sattva quality
predominates and hence the person remains active.
Table 2: Duration of sleep, according to age is shown in the following table10:
AGES HOURS OF SLEEP REQUIRED
Birth to 1 month 18-20 hrs.
1-6 months 15-18 hrs.
6 months – 1 year 14-16 hrs.
1-2 yrs. 12-14 hrs.
2-5 yrs. 10-12 hrs.
5-16 yrs. 9-10 hrs.
Adults 8 hrs.
Old persons 4-6 hrs.
Table 3: Requirement of sleep in sattvika, rajasika and tamasika persons are11:
SATTVIKA PERSON RAJASIKA PERSON TAMASIKA PERSON
4-6 hours of sleep 8 hours of sleep 10-12 hours of sleep
EFFECT OF STAYING AWAKE AT NIGHT
(RAATRI-JAAGRAN
If a person keeps himself awake at night, it causes
roughness in the body12. Keeping awake at night
increases vata and pitta. This causes complaints like-
Constipation
Weakness
Giddiness
Lack of concentration
Hyperacidity
Burning of eyes, hands and feet.
If, due to unavoidable reasons person has to keep
awake at night, he should sleep during next morning,
4-5 hours before having food.
INDICATIONS FOR KEEPING AWAKE AT
NIGHT:
1) Persons with kapha constitution and kaphaja
disorders.
2) Obese persons
3) Persons who are poisoned
4) Persons taking diet rich in fat
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1298
INDICATIONS OF DAY SLEEP
Sleeping during the day time in the seasons other
than summer is not advisable as it causes vitiation of
kapha and pitta.
Table 4: Opinions of different Acharya’s -
ACHARYA CHARAKA
13
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
14
ACHARYA VAGBHATTA
15
Sleeping during day time is
indicated in -
People exhausted by singing,
study, alcoholic, sexual acts,
elimination therapy, carrying
heavy weight, walking long
distance.
Sleeping during day time –
It is permissible for 48 minutes
in case of children, aged,
emaciated by sexual intercourse,
wasted due to chest wound,
alcoholic addicts
Sleeping during day time is indicated in-
Persons who are exhausted by long
speaking, riding on animals or vehicles,
walking long distances by enjoying
excess drinks, sexual intercourse
Those suffering from phthisis,
wasting, thirst, diarrhea, colic
pain, dyspnea, hiccup, insanity
Those tired by riding, travelling
in carriage or on foot and by
hard work, those having not
taken food
Lifting and carrying heavy weights,
who are tired by anger, grief and fear.
Who are afflicted by dyspnea, hiccup.
Diarrhea.
Those who are too old, too
young, weak and emaciated.
Suffering from deficiency of fat,
sweat, kapha, rasa and blood
and having indigestion.
Old, children, weak, emaciated, injured,
thirsty, have pain, indigestion, are
wounded and insane.
Those who are injured by fall
and assault, those who are
exhausted by journey by a
vehicle, vigil, anger, grief and
fear.
Day-sleep is also desirable for
half the normal period in case of
those having awoken in night.
Those who are accustomed to day-
sleep.
CONTRA-INDICATIONS OF DAY SLEEP
Table 5: Opinions of various Acharya’s-
ACHARYA CHARAKA
16
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
17
ACHARYA VAGBHATTA
18
Persons with excessive fat, people
who are addicted to taking
unctuous substances, those with
sleshmic constitution, those
suffering from dushivisha
Day-sleep is contra-indicated in all
seasons except summers, in these
too, it is permissible for a muhurta
(48minutes) in some cases
mention under indications of
sleep.
Persons who are very much fatty and
have kapha- predominancy
Who are habituated to oleation
should not sleep during day time.
A
DISEASES CAUSED DUE TO UNWHOLESOME SLEEP (AHITANIDRA
Table 6: Diseases which could result due to unwholesome sleep-
ACHARYA CHARAKA
19
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
20
ACHARYA VAGBHATTA
21
If person sleeps at day time then it
leads to-
serious type of jaundice
(halimaka)
If person sleeps at day time, then it
leads to-
People become victim of
unrighteousness and aggravation
of all doshas which give rise to
disorders.
If a person sleeps at day time, then it
leads to –
Halimaka, dullness of head, stamitya
(numbness), feeling of heaviness of
the body
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1299
headache, timidness, heaviness of
the body, malaise, loss of
digestive power
Disorders are- cough, dyspnea,
coryza, heaviness in head, body-
ache
Fever, giddiness, loss of intellect,
obstruction of body channels,
dyspepsia, swelling
Hridyoplepa, edema, anorexia,
nausea, rhinitis, hemicrania,
urticaria, eruption, abscess,
pruritis, drowsiness, coughing,
disease of throat, impairment of
the memory and intelligence
Anorexia, fever and poor
digestion.
Anorexia, nausea, running nose,
hemicrania, itching, pain, rashes,
eruptions
Obstruction of the circulating
channels of the body, fever,
weakness of sensory and motor
organs and enhancement of toxic
effects of artificial poisons.
Those who awake in night suffer
from the same complications
caused by vata and pitta.
Cough, lassitude, throat-disorders,
progress of the action of poisons.
SUPPRESSION OF SLEEP
Table 7: Suppression of sleep causes various problems as described by various acharya’s are as follows:
ACHARYA CHARAKA
22
ACHARYA VAGBHATTA
23
Yawning
Delusion
Body ache
Feeling of heaviness of the head and eyes
Drowsiness
Lassitude
Headache
Too much of yawning
Heaviness in the eyes
Squeezing pain all over the body.
INSOMNIA (ANIDRA
It is also known as sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder
where people have trouble sleeping. They may have
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep as long as
desired.
CAUSES OF INSOMNIA
Table 8: Causes of insomnia
ACHARYA CHARAKA
24
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
25
Elimination of doshas from the body and head through purgation and emesis
Fear, anxiety, anger, smoke, physical exercise, bloodletting, fast, uncomfortable bed
Predominance of sattva and suppression of tamas go a long way towards over-
coming the sleep-in excess.
Imbalance of vata and pitta
doshas and mental stress are
the causes of insomnia.
Along with overwork, old age, diseases, especially these due to vitiation of vata like
colic pain etc.
Old age usually causes sleeplessness.
Some people suffer from sleeplessness by nature.
FFECTS OF INSOMNIA26
According to Acharya Vagbhatta in Ashtanga
Hridaya sutrasthana, the effects of insomnia are:
1) Squeezing pain in the body parts
2) Heaviness of the head
3) Yawning
4) Lassitude
5) Exhaustion
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1300
6) Giddiness
7) Indigestion
8) Stupor
9) Diseases caused by excess of vata.
TREATMENT OF INSOMNIA
Table 9:
ACHARYA CHARAKA
27
ACHARYA SUSHRUTA
28
ACHARYA VAGBHATTA
29
1. Oil massage and application of
sandalwood paste to the head and face.
1. Massage, head-oil, anointing and
mildly pressing the body.
1. Good sleep and mild massage are the
ideal treatment.
2. Unction, bath, intake of soup of
domestic marshy and aquatic animals
2. In diet, person should take sweet and
unctuous food consisting of edibles
made of shali rice, wheat and rice flour
processed with products of sugarcane
along with milk, meat-soup etc.
2. Person should indulge in the use of
milk, wine, meat soup and curds, oil
massage and mild squeezing of the body.
3. shali rice with curd, milk and
unctuous substance
3. In night, he should take draksha,
sugar and sugarcane products.
3. Bath, anointing the head, ears and
eyes with nourishing oils, harbouring the
feeling of satisfaction and resorting to
things which are comforting to the mind
as much as desired. These bring about
the pleasure of good sleep.
4. Alcohol, psychic pleasure, smell of
scents and hearing of sounds of one’s
own choice, rubbing the body by
hands.
4. Person should use bed. Seat and
carriage and other things agreeable and
soft.
5. Comfortable bed, home, proper time
of sleep.
GOOD AND BAD SLEEP
According to Acharya Charaka in Sutrasthana, the
sleep caused by the nature of the night is the sleep
par excellence; this is known as bhutadhatri (that
nurses all the living beings). The one caused by
tamas is the root cause of the entire sinful act.
Tamas always causes excessive sleep. Thus, the
individual is unable to perform the virtuous rites and
so he subjects himself to sinful behavior. The
agantuki type of sleep is caused as a complication of
an incurable disease and as such it is in itself
incurable. The remaining types are to be treated as
diseases.
HYPERSOMNIA OR EXCESS OF SLEEP
(ATINIDRA)
Hypersomnia is a neurological disorder of excessive
time spent in sleeping or excessive sleepiness.
According to our classical texts, it leads to obesity
and diseases due to increased kapha dosha, such as
diabetes.
TREATMENT OF EXCESSIVE SLEEP31
According to Acharya Sushruta in Sharirsthana, in
case of excessive sleep, person can be treated by
evacuative measures particularly emesis, lightening,
blood-letting and mind-agitating.
Other treatments:
1) Fasting
2) Induction of sweating
3) Instillation of strong nasal drops or smelling of
snuff
4) Application of strong eye ointment
5) Purgation
Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
IAMJ: Volume 6, Issue 6, June, 2018 1301
WAYS TO PROMOTE SLEEP
There are different ways to promote sleep which will
help in maintenance of good health. These are
Pranayama, meditation and yoga.
Meditation: Meditation is effective for all doshas
and helps to set the mind, body, and soul in a calm
and relaxed state. Meditation is a state of
equilibrium between body and mind. Any form of
meditation can be practiced. The simplest one is
breath awareness meditation, where one focuses on
his or her breath, inhale and exhale without letting
the mind wander towards the thoughts that may
arise. Focusing on the breath, instead of the day’s
events or concerns will help you relax. This type of
meditation really helps to relax mind, body and soul
and when these three are relaxed person feels fresh
and relaxed and will experience good sleep which in
turn promotes good health. Person should practice
very regularly and at a fixed time in morning before
sunrise and in the evening after sunset. Meditation
should be practiced at a proper and fixed place. The
person should forget distractions as far as possible
when he sits for the practice of meditation.
Yoga: Yoga is the science of healthy and better
living; physical, mental, moral, intellectual and
spiritual. Yoga has now been applied as a routine
practice for physical and mental fitness. Incorporate
gentle restorative yoga poses. Surya namaskara is a
routine that promotes relaxation and calms the mind,
body, and soul.
CONCLUSION
On the basis of above description, it can be
concluded that proper sleep at proper time is very
essential for the growth and development of the
body and mind. Sleep is very necessary for the well-
being of a person’s life. Sleep is a state when both
the mind and the body are at rest. By emphasizing an
appropriate routine and timings of the day’s natural
cycle, we can promote the sleep state, and, in turn,
promote health.
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Conflict Of Interest: None Declared
How to cite this URL: Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific
Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra).
International Ayurvedic Medical Journal {online} 2018
{cited June, 2018} Available from:
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Charaka-Samhita of Agnivesha. Sutrasthana Ashtauninditiya adhyay-21/35. Varanasi Chaukhamba Surbharti Prakashan
  • Trikamji Vaidya
Trikamji Vaidya Yadavji. Charaka-Samhita of Agnivesha. Sutrasthana Ashtauninditiya adhyay-21/35. Varanasi Chaukhamba Surbharti Prakashan. reprint 2013. p. 118.
Chakrapani Datta's Ayurveda Dipika. Charaka Samhita vol. I. Sutrasthana 21/55-57. Edition-2012. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office
  • R K Sharma
  • Dash Bhagwan
Sharma R.K., Dash Bhagwan. Chakrapani Datta's Ayurveda Dipika. Charaka Samhita vol. I. Sutrasthana 21/55-57. Edition-2012. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office. Varanasi. p. 385.
A Textbook of Swasthavritta
  • Ranade Subhash
  • R R Deshpande
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Ranade Subhash, Deshpande R.R., Bobade R.B. A Textbook of Swasthavritta. Reprint 2009.
Vagbhatta's Ashtanga Hridayam
  • K R Murthy
  • Srikantha
Murthy K.R. Srikantha. Vagbhatta's Ashtanga Hridayam vol.I. Sutrasthana 7/64. Edition-2013.
Source of Support: Nil Conflict Of Interest: None Declared How to cite this URL: Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra)
  • P V Sharma
  • Dalhana's
Sharma P.V. Dalhana's Commentary. Sushruta Samhita vol.-II. Sharirshtana 4/47. Edition-reprint 2013. Chaukhambha Visvabharati. Varanasi. p.159. Source of Support: Nil Conflict Of Interest: None Declared How to cite this URL: Pooja Sabharwal et al: A Scientific Ayurvedic Exploration Of Concept Of Sleep (Nidra). International Ayurvedic Medical Journal {online} 2018 {cited June, 2018} Available from: http://www.iamj.in/posts/images/upload/1295_1302.pdf
  • B Rao
  • Rama
Rao B. Rama. Vagbhatta Sutrasthana. Ashtanga Sangraha vol.-I. Sutrasthana 9/49-51. Edition-2006.
  • K R Murthy
  • Srikantha
Murthy K.R. Srikantha. Vagbhatta's Ashtanga Hridayam vol.I. Sutrasthana 7/66-68. Edition 2013. Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy. Varanasi. p.121.