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In my experience, I have found that occasional sleeplessness can happen for many reasons – for instance, sometimes it can be related to blood sugar imbalances. Sometimes, ironically, your body doesn’t have enough energy to muster up enough sedation to actually put you to sleep. Sometimes, the body won’t decrease stress hormones like cortisol at night, and you and your nervous system just need to be soothed from a hectic day. Whatever the case, getting insufficient amounts of sleep has been linked with increased weight, decreased quality of cognitive function and cardiovascular health, degenerative health concerns, and disturbances in our circadian rhythms that link us to nature’s light and dark cycles. (1-6) Getting enough quality sleep is of crucial importance to your health and well-being!
So when it’s time to hit the road to dreamland, don’t just lay there counting sheep! By following the guidelines below, you can soothe your racing mind or restless body and transition gently into a full night of peaceful slumber. These are all sattvic practices – meaning that they promote harmony, calm, and clarity in the mind, body, and spirit. According to Ayurveda, getting proper rest is a vital component of maintaining our ojas, or core vitality, so follow these steps for some deep, peaceful zzz’s!
While these aids and exercises are completely safe and appropriate for occasional sleep issues please consult your doctor if your symptoms last for more than a few weeks, or if you experience any of the following:
- Your main sleep problem is daytime sleepiness and self-help hasn’t improved your symptoms.
- You or your bed partner experience breathing problems during sleep.
- You sometimes fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as while talking, walking, or eating.
Remedies Tailored to your Specific Doshic Sleep Imbalance
Vata – The Ayurvedic Air Element
A vata sleep imbalance is typically characterized by when you wake up in the middle of the night between 2am and 6am and have trouble falling back to sleep.
- To balance this occasional sleep disturbance, before going to bed, take a hot bath followed by a full-body warm sesame oil massage, or just rub your head and feet with sesame oil.
- Drink tea made from Brahmi (Centella asiatica), an Ayurvedic herb revered as a nerve tonic.
- Drink hot almond, cows, or coconut milk with any or all of the following: chopped dates, coconut flakes, cardamom, ginger, or honey. Read more about our ojas-building sleep plan.
- Breathing exercises and a short meditation before bed may also help calm the mind for sleep. Try the cooling Chandra Bhedana Pranayama (Moon Breath) for five minutes. The Chandra Bhedana is performed by breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right, closing the opposite nostril. Follow this with 1-5 minutes of Ujjayi breathing, where you are nasal breathing deeply and slowly through the back of the throat. Repeat this until your agitating thoughts subside.
If you wake in the middle of the night, rather than just lying there thinking, get up and have chamomile tea.
Pitta – The Ayurvedic Fire Element
Pitta-based sleeplessness is usually distinguished when you have trouble falling asleep between the hours of 10pm and 2am.
- To remedy this, before bedtime, have a cup of Brahmi (Centella asiatica) tea. Alternatively, take 2 capsules of LifeSpa’s Brahmi Brain before bed.
- Drink warm almond, cows, or coconut milk, as prescribed for vata types.
- Try some aromatherapy: Put a few drops of sandalwood, marjoram, or benzoin resin oil (which is vanilla-scented) into a bath.
- Massage warm ghee (clarified butter) onto your head and the bottoms of your feet.
- Then practice my One Minute Meditation followed by five minutes of Ujjayi breathing (closing the root of the throat and breathing through your nose audibly).
Kapha – The Ayurvedic Water & Earth Elements
Kapha-based sleeplessness typically manifests by an inability to wake up, such as sleeping in until 10 or 11am.
- To balance this, stir a teaspoon of Brahmi and raw honey into hot water, and drink it in the morning and evening. Alternatively, take 2 capsules of Brahmi Brain both in the morning and evening.
- Give yourself a head and foot massage with olive oil, olive and mustard oils, sesame oil, or mustard oil alone after bathing in the morning and evening.
- Aromatherapy works particularly well for kaphas: Try putting a blend of marjoram, frankincense, rose, and ylang-ylang essential oils into a hot bath.
- Just before you go to bed, practice my One Minute Meditation.
What is your favorite Ayurvedic method to help you fall asleep?