This past weekend, while I was teaching a Happiness Program, the question of bedtime came up. I asked people if they could guess what time is the best time to go to bed by, and almost all of them answered ‘midnight‘.
But, midnight’s too late!
The magic hour to be in bed by, is ten o’clock! (As in, before 10, and not much later than 10.)
In ayurveda, the science of life, the day is broken down into different types of energies. You’ve probably felt these energies without even knowing about them. For example, very early in the morning, before the sun rises, everything is sort of still and dreamy. In the middle of the day, you feel like running around and doing things. In the afternoon, you find it hard to concentrate at work or school, etc. We could go on and on about which actives are best during certain hours, but below is a simple breakdown of the day and the energies according to ayurveda.
Vata is characterised by; light, mobile, cold, dry and subtle.
Pitta is characterised by; sharp, hot, movement, intense.
Kapha is characterised by; heavy, dull, sticky, static.
2:00 am – 6:00 am Vata time
6:00 am – 10 am Kapha time
10:00 am – 2:00 pm Pitta time
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm Vata time
6:00 p.m. – 10:00 pm Kapha time (bedtime!)
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 am Pitta time
Kapha energy is slow and dull and it’s the energy that helps us to settle down and go to sleep. If we miss the ‘wave of kapha‘, and stay up much past 10, you actually start to wake back up and it becomes harder to fall asleep! I’ve observed this sleepiness followed by waking back up countless times, on nights when I had to stay awake for something.
I used to stay up late all the time because I felt this was my only time I had to be ‘free‘ from my children. By putting them to bed, then peeling myself up to go in the other room, I felt like I was doing something ‘special‘. But, after a couple years of doing this, I realised that I was depleting myself. My daytimes were a nightmare. I was cranky and I always felt like I need to take a nap. Now, I go to sleep around 8:00 or 9:00 with the kids and I feel so much better for it!
‘Every hour of sleep you get before midnight is equal to two after‘. Meaning that the hours of sleep we get before midnight is when we get a really deep rest. If you notice, the hours of sleep you get in the early morning are lighter and can often be more disturbed. I especially noticed this in my children when they were babies. Also, that time between 10pm-2am is called ‘liver‘ time and it’s the time when the body is doing much of the healing and repairs needed to stay healthy. If we’re consistently not asleep during this time, our body is not getting the proper rest and repair it needs. Eventually, staying up late starts to take a toll on our health.
How much sleep is ideal per night?
Six to eight hours for an adult on average. Although, right now I’m pregnant and I feel that I need much more than that and kids need more. However, even if you get eight hours of sleep, it’s best if you fall asleep before 10pm. If you get 8 hours of sleep, but you sleep from 12am-8am, you can wake up feeling very groggy… why? Because when you wake up at 8am, that time of day is again, kapha time. It’s best to wake up around 6, or before, during vata time. So, in bed by 10, awake by 6 can be a loose rule of thumb for sleep.
The old saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealth and wise.” is no joke!
Of course, it’s not to say that staying up late here and there is going to ruin your life! But, it’s better in the long run to make a habit of going to bed by 10:00pm.
Nighty night. Sleep tight.