From the perspective of Ayurveda, health is a balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit. Aligning our day-to-day rhythms is the cornerstone of building an integrated lifestyle. For example, our microbiome is negatively affected when we go against the grain of our natural circadian rhythms, and behaviors such as eating at night, sleeping during the day, and using artificial lighting to stay up late do not honor the internal clock.
Ayurveda provides us wisdom to help connect us to these natural rhythms. Aligning our sleep cycles can be challenging but an excellent place to start. Here are my tips for a good night of sleep.
CONNECTION TO NATURE
Time outside daily helps us to balance our circadian rhythms. If you are not able to get out throughout the day, then an after dinner walk can help to ease you into a more peaceful evening and set the tone for a restful night.
Take advantage of the Kapha time of day- 6 pm to 10 pm. It possesses slow and dense energy which can help you wind down and ease into a deep sleep. Aiming to go to bed before 10 pm is helpful as we shift into Pitta from 10 pm to 2 am. The Pitta energy is the most restorative time to get deep sleep, but if you are still awake during this time, it can be mentally activating and keep you up late into the night.
To assist the natural decrease of cortisol levels in the evening, it is important to be mindful of what influences are coming in. Engaging in activities that require too much mental concentration and focus can be overstimulating to the mind. Avoid being on your phone, computer, or watching TV after the sunset or at least a few hours before bed. Also, be mindful of stimulating substances such as caffeine and alcohol, as they are known to disrupt sleep cycles.
Eat a light dinner at least 2 hours before bed. Digestion can interrupt sleep!
After dinner, I like to write my lists and journal. This helps my mind relax by emptying out, so that I'm not thinking too much when lying in bed.
TEA OR TONIC
Creating pleasant and relaxing rituals helps set the tone for a calm evening. I love to cozy up with a warm cup of tea or tonic. At the moment I am loving the herbal tea blend of tulsi and chamomile. In the winter, I also like to incorporate tonics such as Ojas milk- an Ayurvedic tonic that can even help boost the immune system and assist with better sleep.
ABHYANGA or FOOT MASSAGE
Right before bed, I like to give myself an oil massage either to my feet or whole body. These practices ground and relax the body by helping to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which controls regeneration and recovery.
FOOT MASSAGE HOW TO
- Warm The Great Black foot oil in hands
- Massage the right foot then repeat on the left
- Stroke feet in an upward direction until oil is fully absorbed
Use a Sattvic touch which is light, settled and slow in quality
Close eyes and direct your awareness to your feet focusing on the quality of touch
- Put socks on the feet after massage to protect from oil