10 Ayurvedic Tips for a Deep and Restful Sleep
I have been a great sleeper my whole life…Well, that used to be the case up until a very stressful period in my life where major changes took place and I was shaken to my core. The result was insomnia.
How embarrassing, I thought. Being a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner and Bio-Energy practitioner, surely I had picked up some tools to help me sleep. While I have a plethora of tools to work with, what I found was that insomnia has a deep root. Until the root cause is addressed the endless tossing and turning will prevail.
In Ayurveda, insomnia is considered a vata condition. Vata is wind, movement, change, instability, cold, dry, light.
In order to reverse the insomnia, the opposite qualities must be experienced: stillness, stability, grounded, warm, unctuous, heavy.
The nervous system has been derailed and the five vayus/prana are not flowing properly, causing sleeplessness. With too much stress, anxiety and over-thinking, all of the prana moves upwards into the head, gets stuck and there you are staring at the ceiling all night long.
Try these things. Not just once but get into a habit so that you adjust your relationship to sleep:
- No caffeine / sugar / stimulants Be kind to your delicate nervous system and avoid these sleep-suckers. If you must indulge, do so in the morning time and certainly not after 3:00 p.m.
- Drink a cup of milk That’s right, just like your Grandma used to make you before bed. Boil a cup of organic milk (or almond milk) with ¼ tsp of nutmeg.
- Lavender essential oil Sprinkle a few drops of this pure essential oil onto your pillow or a dab onto your temples before bed.
- Oil your feet Yep, you heard that correctly. Rub some cold pressed organic sesame oil onto the soles of your feet before you cozy up under the covers (be sure to slip on some cotton socks so you don’t get oil on your sheets).
- Wind down At least one hour before bed, get off your computer, away from the TV and turn off bright lights. Get your nervous system in the mood for sleep. Light a candle. Journal. Relax.
- Meditation You knew that was coming didn’t you? It’s true, meditation is the panacea for uncluttering the mind and releasing all of the conscious and subconscious garbage we carry around.
- Chamomile tea Simple. Easy. Have a cup in the evening instead of reaching for that glass of wine or stimulating tea.
- Abhyanga Say what? This is the Ayurvedic oil massage. Taking up this daily practice will change your life. Warm up some sesame oil (baby bottle style) and massage it into your body, working from the extremities in to your heart. Let this oil soak into the skin for 10-20 minutes before having a warm shower or bath. Ladies, avoid this practice on your menstrual cycle.
- Exercise You don’t have to do a half-marathon every day but make sure you are active, working your muscles and getting your heart rate up. Take the stairs, walk to the store. Do yoga.
- Breathe But breathe how? Deep, abdominal breaths are super but my favorite pranayama – the king of pranayama practices – is nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. Choose either practice and do it nightly like your sleep depends on it.
Don’t underestimate these simple practices. Simultaneously, unearth the deeper disturbances in your life – at work, in relationships, unresolved emotions or trauma. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your health, well-being and the ability to experience joy and peace in your life.
And don’t we all want a better sleep?
What's your Ayurvedic dosha? Take this quiz and find out
The balance of your Ayurvedic doshas, also known as prakruti, is a key part of understanding your holistic health.
Doshas are the three energies found in nature, and also in the human body. They are broken down into three types: vata, pitta and kapha. The doshas are responsible over our bodies, minds, emotions, and thoughts. From birth, we are each individually made with a very specific blend of the five basic elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. That unique blend is your prakruti, or what uniquely constitutes your individual body, and can be broken down by a combination of the three doshas: vata (ether + air), pitta (fire + water), and kapha (water + earth).
The three doshas are the building blocks to understanding our prakruti, and once you understand which is your dominant dosha, you can know what your balanced state looks like. This is vital, as through this lens you can spot exactly when your body goes out of balance, and how to bring it back into balance. Humans are being of nature, constructed from the same five elements, and thus can use the opposing elements as needed to bring us back into balance.
It all hinges on knowing your doshas, however. You can get a general sense of where your dosha balance lies, and go from there to correct the problems. You can even seek out the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner, who can take a look at your insights and prescribe anything from food and herbs to a new lifestyle. Thanks, Ayurveda!
Tally up the number of v’s, p’s, and k’s you receive (standing for vata, pitta, and kapha), whichever you have the most of is your dominant dosha:
- v) I am a slender person and I hardly gain weight
- p) I am medium build
- k) I am well built and I gain weight no matter what I do
- v) My skin is dry, thin, and itches often
- p) My skin looks flushed; I have lots of moles and freckles on my body
- k) My skin is smooth and soft, it looks pale sometimes
- v) My hair is dry, thin and brittle
- p) My hair is neither dry nor oily (for men: I have a receding hairline)
- k) My hair is thick, full, lustrous, and slightly oily
- v) My face is oval
- p) My face is triangular (pointed chin, prominent jaw line)
- k) My face is round
- v) My eyes are small; they feel dry often and have a bit of dullness (usually brown)
- p) My eyes are medium in shape; sharp & penetrating (usually blue)
- k) My eyes are big and round in shape, full eyelashes
- v) My hands are generally dry, rough; slender fingers; dry nails
- p) My hands are generally moist, pink; medium fingers; soft nails
- k) My hands are generally firm, thick; thick fingers; strong & smooth nails
- v) My joints are small, prominent bones, and often crack
- p) My joints are medium and loose
- k) My joints are large, sturdy, with lots of muscle surrounding
- v) I am a very active person (always on the go, mind constantly thinking)
- p) I like to think before I do anything
- k) I am steady and graceful (I don’t like to rush)
- v) I walk fast and talk fast
- p) My actions are very thoughtful and precise
- k) I like a slower pace and I take my time to accomplish things
- v) I do not sleep soundly at night. I tend to toss and turn. I wake up early in the morning
- p) I am a light sleeper but if something wakes me up, I can go back to sleep easily
- k) I am a heavy sleeper
- v) Varies, sometimes I feel hungry, sometimes not, I feel anxious if I don’t eat
- p) I always feel hungry. If I don’t eat I get irritable and angry
- k) I don’t feel very hungry. I can go without food easily for a day
12. Bowel Movement
- v) I tend to have constipation and can go a day or two without a bowel movement
- p) I am regular and sometimes stools are loose (tend to get diarrhea)
- k) I have no problem. I wake up to go to the bathroom.
- v) My voice tends to be weak or hoarse
- p) I have a strong voice, I may get loud sometimes
- k) My voice is deep, has good tone
- v) I am a born worrier, I often feel anxious and nervous
- p) If things don’t happen my way, I feel irritable and angry
- k) I am a happy person, very caring and loving
15. Weather Preference
- v) I love warm and humid weather
- p) I enjoy cool weather, I dislike a warm climate
- k) I like warm but dry weather
- v) I sweat little but not much
- p) I sweat profusely and it might have an unpleasant odor
- k) I never sweat, unless working very hard
- v) I remember quickly and forget quickly
- p) I remember what I want to remember and never forget
- k) It takes me a while to remember, but once I do I never forget
- v) I tend to be spontaneous
- p) I am a list maker. Unless I plan, I don’t do anything
- k) I don’t like to plan, I prefer to follow others
- v) I like to do things in spurts and I get tired very easily
- p) I have medium stamina
- k) I can work long hours and maintain good stamina
- v) My mind gets restless and racing easily
- p) I get impatient easily
- k) It takes a lot to make me mad. I usually feel very calm
21. Decision Making
- v) I change my mind more often and will take time to make a decision
- p) I can make a decision easily and stick with it
- k) I want others to make the decisions
- v) “Is it too late to change my mind”?
- p) “It’s my way or the highway”
- k) “Don’t worry, be happy!”
- v) I like action
- p) I like to win
- k) I like to have fun
24. Health Problems
- v) My symptoms are mainly pain, constipation, anxiety and depression
- p) I often get skin infections, fevers, heart burn, and hypertension
- k) I tend to get allergies, congestion, weight gain and digestive problems
- v) I like art (drawing, painting, dance) and travel
- p) I like sports, politics, and things that get my adrenaline pumping
- k) I like nature, gardening, reading, and knitting