Sleep is an elemental part of life. The average human being sleeps 6 to 8 hours a night. The duration of our sleep and the quality of rest we achieve has a direct effect on our level of energy and our effectiveness during our waking hours. Without concentrated and reinvigorating durations of sleep, the quality of the remainder of our life—work, relationships, and other activities—can suffer dramatically.
Your body is the best pharmacy in the world. It makes natural healing substances that protect you from various illnesses. This pharmacy is strengthened when your body is in balance. Exercise, sleep, proper diet, and maintaining biological rhythms are all interconnected and dependent upon each other.
The secret to good sleep is dynamic activity during the day, and the secret of dynamic activity is deep, restful sleep at night. The two go hand in hand. When this equilibrium is achieved, good sleep is effortless.
In Ayurvedic terminology, insomnia is an imbalance of the Vata dosha. Vata is the principle of movement and is light, changeable, active, and quick.
When you have excess Vata, your mind will be overactive and filled with the racing, anxious thoughts that keep you up at night. There are many different approaches that can help calm an aggravated Vata.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, the ideal bedtime is 10 p.m. For maximum rejuvenation, we recommend a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night, keeping in mind that the hours before midnight are generally the most rejuvenating. For example, if you sleep eight hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., you’ll feel more rested than if you sleep eight hours between midnight and 8 a.m.
Begin preparing for sleep shortly after dinnertime by taking a light walk and minimizing intense mental activity in the evening. Eat your larger meal in the middle of the day and try eating lightly in the evening, so that you’re not trying to fall asleep on a full stomach. Try not to work on your taxes, balance your checkbook, or watch a violent thriller on television right before bedtime – all of these activities can over stimulate the Vata dosha and make it hard to fall asleep.
A daily self-massage with a Vata-pacifying oil is a calming intervention. Use a couple tablespoons of oil after your bath or shower and allow it to soak into your skin. Snacking on roasted sesame seeds mixed with pump golden raisins in another Vata-pacifying approach.
Reading spiritual or inspirational literature before bed can help shift your awareness away from the usual demands of your life to a more expanded perspective.
Turn off the lights, close your eyes and just lie comfortably on your back observing your breath. Allow your attention to float through your body. If you notice areas of tension, consciously release the pressure.
Let Go of Trying: Insomnia is a common problem, and many people try to force themselves to sleep at one time or another. Sleep is a natural process, and “trying” will have no positive effect. In fact, it will probably aggravate the insomnia because the harder you try and less successful you are, the more frustrated you’ll feel. Trying is not the way in which nature functions.
Tips to sleep better and rest during the night:
- Eat a light dinner.
- Take a leisurely stroll after you eat.
- Make the area around you quiet, dark, and warm.
- Leave the window slightly opened all night to have fresh air and avoid stale air, that may cause nightmares.
- Burn a lavender incense stick before going to sleep.
- Use a diffuser with lavender, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla or eucaliptus essential oils.
- Wear light cotton clothes when you go to bed.
- Keep your bedroom free from electronics. Their vibrations affect your nervous system while you sleep.
- The room must have good ventilation and sunlight during the day.
- Drink herbal teas after dinner, like chamomile, jatamansi and valerian.
- Don’t take melatonin tablets, prescription pills, or stimulants.
- Sleep on your side with the neck straight and relaxed. Make sure your nostrils are not blocked.
- Leave the door slightly opened or a hymalayan salt lamp on while you sleep.
- Get a Wake-up Light Sunrise Sunset Simulation Alarm Clock.
- Listen to guided meditations before sleep.
- Take a warm bath with Epson or Hymalayan salts before going to bed. Add some drops of essential oils to the water.
- Perform a slow, oil massage on your body with Vata or Pitta massage oil.
- Cutting down on alcohol, taking regular exercise, avoiding daytime naps and following a rigid bedtime schedule can also improve your sleep .
- Write down in a journal all your feelings and thoughts, pour everything out. Or grab your notebook and write down anything you have to do the next day, anything to do with finances as well. Make sure you have no worries or things to do on your mind at the time to go to bed. Learn how to organize your life during the day.
- Try Breathing Meditation- Mindfulness or Pranayama or Breathing Exercises once you are in bed and cannot sleep.