We know that seven to nine hours of sleep is important for physical, mental, and emotional health, and that creating good sleep habits is one of the best things we can do for our body and spirit, but for some it takes a little more effort to achieve their sleep goals. I’d like to share some of my general tips for supporting sleep in hopes of helping you in your sleep practice and cycles.
Light and Sleep
Keep the lightning in your home as natural as possible. Keeping lights off during daylight hours, even on overcast days, and utilizing candles or warm soft light before and after the sun is up. In addition, it is important to make time to be outside in the daylight everyday. This helps to create a healthy circadian rhythm in the body (and of course to gather vitamin D). Sunrise and sunsets are especially good times to be out.
Food and Sleep
A healthy balanced diet of whole foods and good hydration throughout the day is very helpful in creating healthy sleep. Giving yourself most of your foods and beverages earlier in the day is best because the digestion process can interfere with deep sleep, and a full bladder can wake you up.
Stress and Sleep
I recommend creating a peaceful environment where you will sleep by keeping the space clutter free, as dark as possible at bedtime, and sleeping with natural fibers (this is very helpful because natural fibers allow the body to more easily adjust temperature). In addition, I believe a meditation practice during the day will contribute to better sleep at night. The more you can do to keep stress levels low during the day the easier the transition will be into sleep at night. I like to use our Sea of Serenity tincture before meditation to help calm and ground my body. I find this combination allows me to be very present throughout the day and result in less “night worries”. This is not my natural state, I am very vata/sanguine, and have to intentionally find ways to ground myself throughout the day.
Routines for Sleep
For many years I fought insomnia and have had to work hard to train myself to sleep through the night. My routine might be more than what you need depending on your constitution, but if you are struggling with sleep hopefully some of these small ideas can make a big shift for you. At our house we try to shut down wifi and phones at dinner time (we eat an early dinner).
Then, we clean up and have an after dinner tea (I like cardamom, cumin, fennel, and coriander with a dropper full of Suu Kuu Five Treasures) or milky evening tonic (golden milk with ashwagandha and Five Treasures, or milky chamomile tea with Suu Kuu Lake of Dreams). If I am already feeling tired I might go for a simple chamomile or catnip tea.
We might go on a short walk or do some gentle stretching, but I try to keep after dinner activity very gentle. I find that too much movement can energize my mind and body this late in the day, and the hours before midnight are most rejuvenative so an early start is ideal for optimum regeneration. We usually start our bedtime routine around seven, as I prepare for sleep along with my daughters. This will allow me my best chance of sleep by nine o’clock, and these couple hours are very gentle and all about cultivating a place of relaxation and peace of mind. I will often take a bath or spend a long time washing and massaging my face and feet. Then, I like to read with my daughters and read on my own before lights out.
Creating a consistent schedule and cultivating nourishing practices towards good sleep can be wonderful. Improving sleep is one of the best things you can do to create a strong immune system and a resilient body. Wishing you all sweet dreams and restful sleep!