If you have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, here are some Ayurvedic tips that can help you get the shut-eye you need to stay vibrant and healthy.
- Balance all three doshas with regular sleep and wake times. According to the Ayurvedic clock, one of the two pitta-governed times of day begins at 10:00 p.m. Getting to bed before that time allows the transformational aspect of pitta dosha to heal you from the inside. Waking before 6:00 a.m., when one of the kapha times begins, makes you less groggy and tired throughout the day. Plus, a regular sleep and wake schedule in general will calm vata dosha, which needs routine for balance, leading to less anxiety and greater clarity and creativity during the day.
- Make your bed a sanctuary. Your bed should be inviting and comfortable. Your mattress should be somewhat firm, but not overly so, to allow for a natural curve in your spine. Your pillow should not be so high that it pulls your neck out of alignment, as this can cause restless sleep and daytime neck and back pain. Sleep on sheets made from natural fabrics, ideally organic cotton, bamboo or silk, to avoid chemicals interfering with your rest.
- What side are you on? Your sleep position matters when it comes to the kind of energy you are looking to bring in. Lying on your left side increases pitta, which could increase mental activity if that dosha is out of balance. Lying on your right increases kapha, which could welcome deep sleep if in balance. Either way, if you lie on your side, keep your hips even to avoid torqueing your pelvis (keeping both legs bent and placing a pillow between your knees can help with this). Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it inhibits breathing and twists your neck unnaturally. If you are a back sleeper, be sure your pillow is thin enough to allow for a natural curve in your neck to avoid a forward neck position in your waking life.
- Use common scents. Essential oils, such as lavender, mandarin, and neroli, are known for their calming and relaxing properties. Use a plug-in oil diffuser in your bedroom at night or mist your sheets with a spray of essential oil in distilled water. Try our Peaceful Nights handcrafted aromatherapy blend for a soothing scent.
- Create a relaxing evening routine. Give your body the cue that it’s time to wind down about an hour before your bedtime. Turn off all electronics (including the television) and use this time for meditation, journaling, spiritual reading or restorative asana. Just before bed, rub sesame oil or Sleep Easy Oil from Banyan Botanicals on the bottoms of your feet and the top of your head.
If you are following the steps above and still can’t find a good night’s rest, remember that what you do during the day impacts how well you can sleep at night. Avoid caffeine, refined sugar and other stimulants, as well as alcohol, to bring your body back to its natural rhythms. Minimize electronic use in the two hours leading to bedtime, and finish your last meal at least two hours before lying down for sleep. Look for ways to remove or balance unnecessary stress from your life – this may require big changes or small ones, depending on your situation, but the results will pay off in better mental and physical health for the rest of your life.