Well! Not getting enough sleep is very vata increasing. When vata, the energy of movement, is increased we can end up with all kinds of health problems. Our minds might have problems focusing, we might have extra anxiety or worry. We might be super forgetful or even be a little bit clumsy. We might have emotional instability which keeps us swinging swiftly on the pendulum of emotions and short fuses. We might get constipation, have poor digestion or severe digestive issues, and the list goes on. If we get to the root cause of all these wonky problems, it could be that we're just chronically tired.
Sleeping rejuvenates the body and it is absolutely necessary to get enough. We need rest and rejuvenation, because we spend full days doing stuff constantly with our bodies and our minds. If we don't give ourselves high quality sleep time, we will totally break down.
I know this might not be super popular, but yes, turn them off. Turn off TV, your phone, your computer, the iPad one hour before sleep. Why? Because screens are also vata increasing. The lights, the dings, the bings, keep our mind engaged and keep our mind going.
Before sleep we must calm the mind down to prep for rest. By unplugging we're giving our mind the cue, "Okay mind, it's down time now."
It's like, if you have children, you give them a little bedtime routine. They don't just go from running around the house being all happy and crazy and then plop in bed.
You do the shower, you read books, you build a whole routine around quieting the child down. You might want to put on some music so they relax. Well, turning off the screens is the same thing. Besides, there's probably a lot of other very cool things that would nourish your body and mind that you could do for that hour before bed besides dink-dink-dinking on the screen like you've been doing all day anyway.
Give yourself a break and bring life into the hour before bed.
Maybe you spend extra time with your family, pick up a good book, do a restorative yoga practice before bed, massage your feet, whatever you want to do.
But one hour before bed, the screens go down, so your mind can detach and calm down.
Bed by 10 o'clock! Why 10 o'clock is the magic number ... because 10 o'clock is the time when pitta energy starts. Pitta energy is the energy of transformation. And during that time, our bodies and our minds start to process all of our thoughts, emotions, foods, everything from the day. It's supposed to do that while we sleep, but if we're awake, it's going to do the processing anyway, only we will be engaged in it.
For example, how many of you are feeling tired only to get a second wind around 10:00 pm? You're like, "Oh! I got ideas for the strategy for tomorrow, I'm going to go clean my house, I'm going to go sweep the deck." You just find all kinds of stuff to do. We might even convince ourselves, "I'm a night owl! My best work is done at night!" Well, yeah because pitta energy is keeping you awake.
But, if we fall asleep before 10:00 pm, we'll fall asleep in kapha time, which is slow, nourishing energy which promotes sleep, downtime and slowness. If we stay up beyond that threshold, we're going be up until midnight or one 1:00 am. So, bed by 10:00 pm.
At bedtime, lay on your right side and do a super simple so hum meditation. The nostrils are the quickest passageway to the mind. So, the way we breathe signals our mind on how to think and how to feel. When we take nice, slow breaths through the nose, it tells our mind everything's good, you're good, there's no more stress, it's time for sleep.
Here's how to do it: Close your lips, lay on your right side, breathe deep and slow through the nose. On the inhale say to yourself, "soooooo" on the inhale...take a pause. On the exhale, think "huuuumm".
So Hum means is, "I am that", or "I am the divine". So we're filling ourself with this lovely mantra, "I am my higher self, I am my higher power, I am spirit, I am the divine, I am a divine being", right before bed! It's amazing! It really helps people sleep. When you practice, make sure you breathe from your lower belly, not from your chest. Practice for at least 5 minutes and don't be surprised if you zonk right out before time is up.
Massaging three specific marma points (energy points in Ayurveda) on the head promotes sleep. Massage each point for 1-2 minutes to help you relax. Let me tell you where each point is:
Point 1 Center of the top of your head. To find it, take your index fingers at the tops of your ears and bring your fingers straight up your head until they meet, top and center.
Point 2 The top/back of your head. Again, take the index finger at the tops of your ears and go backward at like a 45 degree angle, so you're kind of on the upper back, flat part of your head. You'll notice it, the point will feel "active" or sensitive.
Point 3 The indent at the base of your skull. Use your index or middle finger to find where the back of your skull meets the top of your neck, there's an indent. Lightly massage small clockwise circles in that indent for 1-2 minutes.
In a pinch, you can always have a little warm milk and nutmeg. This is really good if you wake up in the middle of the night and you can't fall back asleep. I kid you not, it'll work in 15 minutes. You just take a little bit of milk, warm it up and then sprinkle some nutmeg in there.
I don't recommend doing that every single night, but you can use this as a therapy to get your body used to how to sleep. Sometimes we have to re-train to get our bodies back in that rhythm.
When you do get in a sleep rhythm, you'll wake up with so much more energy and be so much more productive and focused. If we miss out on on sleep, it does us no good to find a huge Starbucks coffee or sugar drink or grab the sweets and chocolates to compensate for low energy. It's not going to help you. You just need sleep, sound sleep, good quality sleep.
Write down some health concerns that you have. Then start working on your sleep with these 5 things. Once you have your sleep regulated, see if some of those health concerns start to get better. My guess is that they will! And when they do, email me at [email protected] and be like, "Dude! I'm sleeping and I'm also healing my body at the same time!"
That is your Ayurvedic lesson for today on my 5 favorite Ayurvedic tips for sound sleep, because I care about you and I care about your zzz's!
Let's keep keeping bringing Ayurveda to life!