Having trouble falling asleep? Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, is all about finding and removing the root causes of problems. There could be a number of reasons why you can’t sleep. It would help to go through your daily routine with an experienced Ayurvedic Doctor or Practitioner, but to get you started, here are some general suggestions that stem from the wisdom of Ayurveda’s teachings:
1. Hit the Sack by 10 PM
According to Ayurveda, the medical sister science of yoga, 6-10 PM is a relaxing time of the day when the earth and water elements are dominant. The earth and water elements come together to form one of the three energetic sources called Kapha.
The Kapha qualities in the air are at their strongest at this time which means that if you pay attention to your natural bodily rhythm, you’ll notice that you’ll feel a bit heavier, slower, and duller. It’s these qualities that help induce sleep.
It helps to think of this 6 PM – 10 PM window of time like a train stop. If you want to get to the destination of sleep then you better be waiting for that train at that time! If not, then it will likely take you just a little longer to fall asleep, even if you’re a good sleeper!
If you go to bed during this time frame, you will have these naturally occurring, grounding elements on your side to help induce sleep. Watch out for 10 oʼclock though, when the fire element becomes dominant. Fire makes your mind more active and irritable if youʼre not already asleep! That could mean an argument with your partner, a sudden urge to clean the whole house, or the desire to do intellectual activities like reading. Reading is great! Just make a habit before 10 PM.
2. Drink warm, whole, organic milk with a pinch of nutmeg just before brushing your teeth before bed. If you don’t drink dairy, substitute another warm nut milk like coconut milk.
3. Eat your dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime. This gives your body time to digest during your waking hours so that when you go to bed it will be able to relax. If you eat right before bed, your body will not be able to get its maximum rejuvenative sleep because it will be busy processing your last meal.
4. Rub organic sesame oil (not toasted) on the soles of your feet and put a dab of the oil on your scalp before going to bed. Sesame oil is grounding and nourishing to the nervous system. Just remember to wear some loosely fitting socks to bed so that the oil doesn’t get on your sheets.
5. Reduce your caffeine intake throughout the day. If you’re a coffee drinker, you might like to check out coffee alternatives such as Teeccino. Teeccino is a grain based drink that comes in all kinds of flavors like hazelnut, mocha, french roast, and vanilla nut. You can even make it right in your drip coffee maker! Try substituting your afternoon coffee with grain coffee or simply go on sabbatical from caffeine by substituting a third of your normal coffee with Teeccino for the first week, substitute half of your normal coffee with Teeccino the second week, and so on until you are drinking just the grain coffee.
6. Unplug and shut off your wireless devices a half-hour before bedtime each night. These devices call in signals which affect our nervous system and livers, and keep them active when we want them to relax. Keep your electronic devices in a room separate from your bedroom. Having to use your phone as an alarm clock is not a good excuse! Instead, use a dark alarm clock, one that won’t emit any light.
Kirsten Gottwald is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and can be reached at [email protected]