"A good laugh and a long sleep
are the two best cures for anything."
- Celtic Proverb
A good sleep cycle is so important: sleep heals you from the stresses and strains of your day and supports the development of new neural pathways in the brain, strong immune function, emotional resilience and hormonal balance.
In modern culture, however, insomnia is all too common, especially in the fall. In the mind-body science of ayurveda, this is explained by the change in the element in the fall season.
Fall is Vata Season
In Ayurveda, fall is recognized as a transitional season ruled by vata dosha, the elements of air and ether.
Positively, vata dosha is associated change, lightness, movement and inspiration. However, an excess of vata can also be associated with dryness, anxiety, impracticality, excessive thinking, and with insomnia and/or restless sleep.
Fortunately, the ayurveda provides very simple practices and routines that you can use to help you sleep deeper and happier.
7 Deep Sleep Tips from Ayurveda
1) Just like a baby, your body thrives on routine. Try to keep a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Ideally, settle into bed before 10 pm.
2) Around 8 pm, start turning inward and favour restful, nourishing and grounding activities. Great choices for bedtime activities include taking a hot bath, listening to restful music, sipping a tea on the couch, intimate time with loved ones, gentle yoga and meditation, writing in a journal or folding the laundry. As much as possible, avoid electronics and mental activity 2 hours before bedtime.
3) Before bed, prepare a warm nourishing glass of warm milk, almond milk or tea using sleep-supporting herbs. Some of my favourites include ashwagandha, shatavari, turmeric, tulsi, chamomile, lavender or brahmi. Taking one teaspoon of ashwagandha powder in warm milk with honey at bedtime is known to support restful sleep.
4) Before bed, give yourself a gentle foot massage. This will relax your whole body-mind and help wash away stress from the day. For a delicious bedtime treat, I use 2 teaspoons unrefined sesame oil with a few drops of lavender or spikenard essential oil.
5) If you suffer from excessive thinking, try oiling your crown chakra*. Place 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil (the untoasted kind) or brahmi (the supreme oil for the mind) on the top of your head, and notice its grounding effects.
(...Yes, you might need to wash your hair the next day.)
6) Try a gentle evening routine involving yoga, breathing exercises and/or meditation. I notice that just 10 minutes of practice before bed really makes a difference in how well I sleep and how I refreshed and positive I feel upon waking.
7) During your workday, try to take a 20 minute break to do something that you like. At this time, it's especially important to favour activities that are quiet, pleasurable, rejuvenating, and/or introspective away from your computer. This may include taking a short walk, doing some art, writing poetry, speaking to a friend that you love, having a cup of tea or simply closing your eyes. The best time to take this break is between 2-6 pm (vata time).
About the Author
Briya (Rachel) Freeman is a facilitator specialized in meditation, ayurveda and modern spirituality. She is passionate about exploring the potentials of human consciousness in a way that respects, unites and transcends global culture and tradition.
Briya is a long-term student of Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman of South American origin. She also holds studies in ayurveda at Anjali School of Ayurveda (Kerala, India) and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa.
Briya is based in Ottawa, Canada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org