Updated: Sep 14, 2021
Simple Ayurvedic Practices to Improve Your Quality of Sleep and Change Your Life
“Practice does not make perfect. It is practice, followed by a night of sleep, that leads to perfection.”
Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
Do you ever lie in bed for what feels like hours waiting for sleep to come?
Do you struggle to wake up in the morning, groggily dragging yourself out of bed, confused about why you are so tired when you "slept" all night?
You aren’t alone.
The world over, many people are sleep-deprived due to their busy lifestyles, high-pressure jobs and families, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.
But, how important is sleep actually?
With over 15,000 reviews on Amazon, Matthew Walker's book "Why We Sleep" is a best seller on sleep disorders. There are tens of thousands of books on sleep and sleep disorders and this is just one of them.
A book about sleep is so in demand, but why?
In the wake of the growing realization that sleep affects nearly every aspect of our lives, such as our energy levels, decision-making abilities, memory, and more.
Sleep was not considered a serious issue. However, this is no longer the case.
“Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.”
The body repairs, resets and restores during sleep.
Imagine for a moment that your body is a car, and your mind, the engine. When you don't refuel, refill the water canisters, change the oil or worse, don't service the car, pretty soon it will start breaking down, part by part.
When we run on poor sleep, bit by bit, we too start to break down both physically and mentally.
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life."
We all know that we need sleep, but just how much sleep do we really need?
It’s recommended that adults (between 18 and 64 years old) get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while seniors (65 and older) sleep 7-8 hours per night.
Why are we so tired?
We are tired because sleep has become a liability rather than a necessity. We pull all-nighters and live with a “sleep when we’re dead” mentality.
We are sleeping in noisy environments that unbeknownst to us, affect our ability to fall asleep, causing us to feel tired in the mornings.
We spend far too much time staring at TV and phone screens, whose blue light suppresses our body's production of melatonin, making it harder for us to fall asleep.
We are not creating routines that aid us in our quest for that replenishing night’s sleep or getting to bed at the same time every evening, instead opting to stay up until the early hours of the next morning.
Quality sleep does not begin when we close our eyes.
It starts with what we do every day.
“Humans are not sleeping the way nature intended. The number of sleep bouts, the duration of sleep, and when sleep occurs have all been comprehensively distorted by modernity."
This post explores a few small habits you can begin to introduce slowly into your life to help you sleep better at night.
These simple ayurvedic habits can improve your life and sleep. We can wind down our evening and signal to our bodies that sleep is nearby by taking certain actions.
Often, the reason we struggle to fall asleep is simply because we haven't prepared our bodies for sleep.
Move. Stretch lightly before going to bed every evening. A few minutes will prepare your body for sleep and also mentally disconnect you from the day's activities.
Limit screen time. Our screens (TV's, tablets and mobile phones) not only suppress the natural production of melatonin but also keep us alert, wired and engaged mentally.
This is the exact opposite of what will bring sleep.
Try to stay away from screens (blue light) 1-2 hours before bedtime.
Eat early and allow your food to digest for at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep.
Opt for low, warm lighting to mimic the setting sun instead of bright lighting.
Drink warm milk with sprinkles of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.
Read for a few minutes to bring about feelings of sleep instead of scrolling on your phone which keeps you awake. Reading also allows your mind to disconnect from the day, allowing you to sleep easier.
“Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer.”
Try Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra is a gentle, pose free form of yoga that can be practiced by anyone and involves the practitioner lying down while being guided through various meditation, breath awareness and mindfulness practices.
The aim of yoga nidra (also commonly referred to as yogic sleep) is to reach a state of meditative consciousness, somewhere between awake and asleep and is the deepest form of relaxation.
The practitioner is deeply relaxed whilst still being fully conscious with awareness of their surroundings.
Most people come to yoga nidra because of its powerful control over the body's relaxation response. Yoga nidra cultivates a better awareness of the body and mind, reduces stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels and intentionally brings the body and mind to rest.
Yoga nidra is perfect for those who struggle with insomnia or wakefulness, as well as those who are experiencing stress or anxiety in their daily lives.
The practice of abhyanga involves massaging your whole body with oil.
The practice of abhyanga calms the nervous system, stimulates circulation, and nourishes the entire body. But more than that, abhyanga is also part of an evening routine of self-love that prepares the body for sleep.
Recommended oil by dosha
4-5 times a week
Using sesame, almond.
3-4 times a week
Using coconut or sunflower oil.
1-2 times a month
Using safflower oil
Great for all 3
How to Practice Abhyanga
Pour oil into a massage bottle or baby bottle, turn the tap onto hot water and plug the sink. Place bottle into hot water to allow oil to warm. ( take this time to brush/ floss teeth and tongue scape). Test the temperature by putting a drop of oil on your inner wrist, the oil should be warm but not hot.
Ensure that you are in a warm, comfortable environment.
Massage the oil gently onto the crown of your head, and then slowly work outward in circular strokes. Spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (which is home to many other marma points that contain concentrated vital energy).
Face: Massage your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws in a circular motion (always moving upward). Don't forget to massage your ears, especially the lobes, which contain marma points and nerve endings.
Apply long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Your heart should always be your direction when you massage.
Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, move up on the right side, then across, and then down on the left side as you follow the path of the large intestine.
Spend at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet to complete the massage. With nerve endings of vital organs and marma points, feet are a very important part of the body.
If possible, allow the oil to absorb and penetrate the deeper layers of your body by sitting with it for 5-15 minutes.
Enjoy a warm bath or shower. Avoid vigorously washing and rubbing your body.
After bathing, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing it vigorously.
It has long been known as a magical oil that helps with sleep issues, and there are various ways it can be used.
Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to water in a spray bottle. Inhale the sprayed air as you move around your space.
Apply some drops of oil onto a tissue and put it inside your pillow. Take a deep breath in and slowly let yourself fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
“Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day -- Mother Nature's best effort yet at contra-death.”
Without good sleep, we are negatively affected little by little. This happens slowly, subtly, and over time, and is not always easy to detect.
As a result of working long and hard hours, we are all expected to sacrifice quality sleep.
After making these small changes, you will soon enjoy your sleep, wake up full of energy, and look forward to your day after a great night's sleep.
Do you like this blog post?
Have you ever struggled with sleep?
What remedies have you found helpful, we would love to hear.