Are you always up at 2 AM. scrolling endless social media feeds unable to sleep? You are not alone. According to a recent study, over 93% of urban Indians are sleep deprived. It gets worse. 87% feel that lack of sleep is affecting their health and over half of them report loss of productivity at work.
Our irregular work schedules and happening lives have made sleep patterns increasingly erratic. This can affect our metabolic rhythm leading to insomnia, tiredness, and heartburn. To balance this, Ayurveda strongly recommends establishing a daily routine, to improve tri-doshic balance and to enhance overall wellbeing. Regularity reassures our body that everything is normal and gives a deep sense of comfort.
Follow these simple nuggets to set up a simple evening routine for deep, restful sleep. With regular practice, these practices will serve as cues for the body to know that the day is ending. So consistency is important.
Time your Sleep
Ayurveda considers different parts of the night to be dominated by different doshas. It’s best to hit the bed before 10.30 PM when the night is dominated by Kapha, as it provides a sense of deep restfulness. After 10.30 PM, Pitta dominates and makes us feel active and energetic until nearly 2 PM. Sleeping fewer hours at the right bedtime is more restful than hitting the bed late for a longer duration.
Avoid Caffeine in the Evening
Stimulants like coffee and tea make you feel energetic and prevent our body from recognizing fatigue. This makes it hard to hit the bed early. Avoiding your evening coffee can go a long way in getting a restful night.
Reduce Strenuous Activity
Stop strenuous physical and mental activity a couple of hours before your bedtime.
Dim the Lights
Our biological rhythms have evolved over millions of years to be highly sensitive to light. The dimming of natural light at sunset is a biological signal for our bodies to wind down and rest. However, artificial lighting at night can be deeply confusing for the body as it interferes with these signals. So, it's best to progressively dim the lights at home as you get closer to bedtime. This tells your body that the day is ending.
Have a light, early dinner
To ensure a good sleep, food must be completely digested before you hit the bed. According to Ayurveda, the ideal gap between dinner and bedtime is at least three hours. This prevents the collection of toxins in our body(ama) which can wake you up feeling dull and lethargic. To make it easier to eat early, you can have a lighter meal.
Wash Your Face:
We know this sounds like one of those things that your mom has nagged you about endlessly. Washing your face in lukewarm water before sleeping cleans dirt collected throughout the day, unclogs pores and helps your skin breathe freely at night. Oh, it also prevents aging and gives a glow to your face.
A few drops of oil for your head and feet
Over the course of the day, your body accumulates a lot of heat. Apply a few drops of oil on your scalp and massage gently in clockwise movements. Follow this by massaging a few drops of oil from heel to toe. This simple routine removes excess heat from the body before hitting the bed.
Keep your devices away
This might sound like a really hard task, but trust us, it’s worth it. Backlit devices strain our eyes and stimulate our minds. This fools our biological clocks into thinking it’s daytime. Keep your devices away an hour before bedtime. You can use this time to read, listen to soothing music or just get some alone time.
Maintain a journal
Writing a journal is a simple way to clear your mind of thoughts and remove residual emotions. You don't have to spend a lot of time. Take five minutes to write a quick note every night.
Don't read in bed
Surprising as this may sound, reading in bed is not a great idea. Reading in bed sends conflicting signals as your body is ready to sleep while your mind is alert. Do your bedtime reading in your study. Choose soothing and uplifting content to read at night. Emotionally distressing content can affect the quality of sleep.
A glass of warm milk
Your grandmother was right. A glass of warm milk with a dash of elaichi and haldi does indeed ensure a good night’s rest.
Consciously relax your body
When you hit the bed, lie down facing upwards in a comfortable position. Consciously loosen each part of the body by gently bringing your awareness and willing it to relax. Then bring your attention to your breath and gently drift off to sleep. This simple version of Yoga Nidra can dramatically increase the quality of your sleep. Over time, you will feel refreshed after sleeping fewer hours.
Tailor your sleep to your dosha
Your doshic constitution influences your sleep.
Vata types may have irregular sleep cycles and find it hard to establish a routine. Hit the bed early even if you are not tired. Sleeping on the left side is ideal as it encourages breath through the right nostril, giving warmth to the body.
Pitta types could suffer from disturbed sleep. Keep the sleeping room quiet and pleasant. Since the body tends to heat up, it's best to sleep on the right. This encourages breathing through the left nostril for cooling.
Kapha types have a tendency to oversleep. This can lead to a Kapha imbalance in the morning. So it's important to have a strict waking time, preferably before 6 A.M. It's good to sleep on the right side to promote heating.
This may seem like a long daunting list. Think of this as a buffet and choose a few practices that appeal to you. Make sure you do these every night. Over time you can add more elements to your evening routine. Relax, unwind and sleep well the Ayurvedic way.