Updated: Jun 30, 2020
According to ancient Ayurvedic writings, “Happiness, Nourishment, strength, sexual prowess, and knowledge – all are dependent on sleep”. Good quality sleep is the backbone of our wellbeing, getting sufficient sleep aids in physical, emotional, physiological, and spiritual strength.
In Ayurveda there are three Dosha’s which can represent your Prakriti (true nature). The Doshas which show the highest are the elements that govern you most. It is important to know your Prakriti and which Dosha’s are most prevalent, this can give great insight into the many requirements that your body needs.
The amount of sleep you need, the time of night you go to sleep and the energy you expend during the day has a big part to play in the quality of your sleep. Knowing if you function better on 6 hours sleep or 8-10 hours’ sleep is just as important. Everybody is different, so getting to know your personal sleeping requirements and implementing them is key.
1. Regular sleeping and waking times
The time of the days and seasons in the year are also governed by the different elemental Doshas.
Kapha re-starts in the evening from 6-10pm, this is ideal time to start wind down and prepare for your night’s sleep, before the Pitta night owl tendency kicks in. Pitta is about digestion, digestion of any remaining food, digestion of our daily thoughts, our daily activities, our emotions & our experiences.
If we stay up too late, we could be caught up in a second wind that will keep you alert and awake for much longer, so take advantage of that slowing down, calm Kapha window and form some regular sleeping and waking times. Maintaining a regular sleeping pattern will help fine tune your body clock and improve your natural rhythm.
On the other hand, if you are going to stay up late, enjoy it, you can get back on track the next day!!
2. Exercise every day
Physical activity and exercise are great to help us expend build up energy we have accumulated throughout the day. Even if we think we feel ‘tired’, getting out for a quick 30-minute walk will change this around completely. We could be feeling ‘tired’ from built up energy in the mind. It is best to do high intensity exercise earlier in the day, exercise that is vigorous can be too stimulating late in the evening.
3. The daily dump
This can be taken in more ways than one. Although it is good to move toxins from our body every day, it is also important to remove toxins from our mind. Sometimes we can wake with many thoughts in the morning, thoughts about all the things we need to do, jobs we need to finish, people we need to talk to and many different experiences circulating around the mind.
Creating 10 minutes to have this ‘daily dump’ by writing everything down, pen on paper and keep writing until your mind is clear. It will help free up and rid the monkey mind chatter that can drain us and take up too much space. When we free this space, it gives room for creative and inventive ideas to flow. If you have a busy schedule in the morning, make sure to do this at some stage in the day before you go to sleep.
4. Limiting stimulating drinks
Depending on your Prakriti, every constitution will have a different tolerance to stimulating substances, ie, sugar, alcohol, caffeine etc. Knowing your limits, will help in aiding a restful sleep.
Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours, and peaks in the blood within 15-45 minutes after consumption. If you are quite sensitive to caffeine, its effects can persist for much longer and even until the next day. Although the immediate effects may be worn off, the stimulating effects can still be evident in the chemical messengers within the body, stimulating the nervous system for longer periods.
Limit your intake of stimulating drinks and aim to have the last one around 3 pm, so the effects will have worn off by evening time, then you can naturally find the time to chill out and wind down.
5. Avoiding daytime naps
In general Ayurveda recommends not going to sleep during the daytime unless you have high Vata in your Prakriti and feel completely drained or depleted. Some other occasions are, if you have missed out on a lot of sleep, and if the heat of summer has left the body dried out, Vata in this case becomes aggravated, then it is good to balance with short naps.
In general, if you feel the afternoon slump, it is good to take some rest time to recharge, go to a quiet place, shut down your senses, put your legs up the wall or hold some regenerative yoga poses for 10-20 minutes. Even a short walk in the afternoon can blow off the sluggishness of this mid-day dip.
6. Light evening meals
Eating too rich or a heavy meal later in the evening, can have stimulating effects on the body. It is good to eat until you are fully satisfied with your meal, so you do not get hungry during the night, but opt for a lighter meal that contains mostly vegetables and something that is easy to digest. If you are having animal protein, it is best to have this as your main meal in the middle of the day, when internal Pitta (digestion) is at its strongest.
7. Creating the ideal Bedroom space
This concept according to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui, maximizes the flow of energy for utmost safety and productivity. It states that you should have a view of the door from your bed without being too close to it. It also recommends having the head of a bed against the wall, if you share a bed, have equal space to enter from both sides.
Sleeping with your head facing East, south or West is recommended for a restful sleep. Head facing to the north can activate the mind.
Clear the Clutter, having an untidy room can add to a disturbed sleep, block the flow of energy and generally prevent things moving forward in your life.
8. Setting a bed-time routine
Ayurveda states, one achieves balance through a practice called Swasthavritt, meaning, the daily duties required to maintain health. Setting a bed-time routine to create this space will really improve the quality of your sleep. Turn off electronics at least one hour prior to sleep and dedicate some time to prepare for sleep. Brush your teeth & prepare clothes for the following day. Have a lukewarm shower at night, this can literally wash off the remnants of the day, now you are clear and ready for quality sleep time. How good do you feel after a shower if you have had a stressful day?
Meditation is great technique for relaxation and help to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation is also easier when you have done the ‘daily dump’. Some people find meditation difficult because their mind is too active, next time you try to meditate, do this daily dump (mentioned above), and try again. You will be surprised at the difference.
10. Sweet smells for the Senses
The Ancient Egyptians were known to burn frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon to induce sleep and enhance dreams. Hippocrates, who is hisorically known as the “father of medicine” favoured aromatherapy and their benefits. Certain scents are used to promote a positive mood, enabling one to relax deeply. Some popular scents are chamomile, lavender, rose, geranium, sandalwood, ylang ylang and jasmine. You can burn these oils in the room in the evening so your senses can transmit the message ‘it’s time to relax and safe to sleep’.
If you start to implement these 10 tips mentioned above, you are sure to be making positive steps towards a peaceful, restful nights sleep.
Ayurveda, The Ancient Indian Healing Art, Scott Gerson, MD
Prakriti, Robert Svoboda
The Alchemy of Quantum Mind Feng Shui, Mary Shurtleff