My Top 10 Sleeping Tips
So many people these days are suffering from insomnia or disturbed sleep and as a lifestyle consultant, I’m often asked for ways to improve the quality of sleep.
Sleep is one of the three pillars of life and a vital part of our health and wellbeing. It provides us with nourishment, happiness, strength, knowledge and longevity. Sufficient rest allows us to approach every day with more energy and enthusiasm.
According to Ayurveda, sleep disorders are an imbalance of the Vata dosha (Air + Space element). It’s no surprise really due to the busyness and stressful nature of our lives these days that our Vata is out of control. We are constantly juggling the day-to-day stressors of work, study, diet, home life, travel, family and relationships... our minds are always thinking about what and where we have to be next!
Fasting and improper diet, over-exercising, full-moons, stress and emotions like fear, worry and anxiety aggravate Vata and activates the mind. Along with old age and diseases (especially those due to the vitiation of Vata such as colic pain), are known to cause sleeplessness even in normal individuals.
Here I’ve put together a few general suggestions that hopefully help you to reduce the Vata condition and restore your sleep patterns:
1. Avoid caffeine after 10:00am. Even better if you can avoid it altogether, but I know that’s a lot to ask a lot of people. Sip warm water and herbal teas instead.
2. Eat your largest meal at midday. This is when our bodies Agni (digestive fire) is at its strongest and will pretty much digest anything we eat. Try to favor warm, cooked wholefoods as opposed to light, raw foods. Keep dinner light, however never go to bed hungry.
3. Avoid stimulants. Try to avoid stimulating spices such as garlic, onion and chili pepper in the evening. Alcohol and chocolate are also not a good idea if you are struggling to attain a sound sleep.
4. Exercise daily. 20 minutes minimum.
5. Meditation. There are so many types of meditations around now. Explore and play around with as many as possible until you find one that will send you off into a deep and blissful sleep. I like Vedic Meditation and you can read more about it here.
6. Daily massage followed by a warm shower/bath. Massage is super pacifying on the nervous system, stimulates the immune system and improves lymphatic flow. I recommend using a heating oil such as organic black sesame seed or a medicated Vata oil. Otherwise, applying oil simply to the souls of your feet encourages a good night sleep.
7. Switch off by 9:00pm. Turn off your computer, phone, TV, or anything stimulating one hour before bed. Your bed is a place for you to sleep only.
8. Enjoy a warm cup of milk with added herbs before bed. There are certain foods and herbs that are specific to building ojas (essential life energy) and repairing sleep, and it all starts with milk. Try adding chopped dates, almonds, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron or ghee to milk before heading off to bed.
9. Alter your body position. In Ayurveda, the head position is very important. The head towards the East gives you a restful meditative sleep because the head is pointed in the Sun's direction. Sleeping on the back enhances Vata and disturbs the mind/body coordination.
10. Keep everything clean. Your room should be clean, well ventilated and silent. Try to wear loose light clothes to bed and avoid bright lights.
Wishing you a calm and blissful sleep xx