Ayurvedic Sleep Remedies To Help You Rest Easy
The alarm sounds, and it’s time to start another day. Do you wake up feeling rested and revitalized – or groggy, grumpy, and blah? According to Harvard Medical School, “Sleep deprivation is associated with markers of inflammation.”
Our sleep patterns change with the seasons and our life circumstances, especially with summer rolling around. As the days grow longer, our bodies can have difficulty winding down on their regular schedule. Whether you experience sleep issues occasionally, seasonally, or chronically, you’re not alone. An estimated 50 – 70 million Americans have trouble sleeping.
In our modern society, we’re used to tolerating poor sleep. But our quality of life mirrors our quality of sleep – and subpar snoozing affects our mental, physical, and spiritual health.
According to Harvard Medical School, poor sleep is linked to issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, all of which can reduce life expectancy. Even just missing a few night’s sleep can affect our stress levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, and can trigger inflammation. “Now, a recent study on people in midlife finds that having a combination of sleep problems — such as trouble falling asleep, waking up in the wee hours, or sleeping less than six hours a night — may nearly triple a person’s risk of heart disease.”
We all want to feel vigorous, rested, and present. You don’t have to endure evasive, fitful, or disrupted sleep – there are effective Ayurvedic sleep remedies you can count on.
Common Sleep Issues by Ayurvedic Dosha
The Ayurvedic doshas influence who and how we are in the world. They also influence our sleep patterns. Understanding common sleep issues by dosha type can help uncover which Ayurvedic sleep remedies are best for you.
- Vata: Sleep issues are most common with airy Vata types. Prone to overactive nerves, highly sensitive Vata can have difficulty calming the mind to fall and stay asleep.
- Pitta: Passionate Pitta types are prone to burnout and stress, which can agitate the nervous system. Particularly in the summer, Pitta types often fall asleep late and feel tired during the day.
- Kapha: Grounded Kapha rarely has sleep issues, but may feel sluggish midday when out of balance. These issues tend to pop up in the springtime, when earth and water are in transition.
Which is the Best Ayurvedic medicine for sleeping?
There is no single best Ayurvedic medicine for sleeping. An intentional morning and evening routine (dinacharya), healthy and correct-for-you Ayurvedic diet, and herbal remedies can help. The best cure, however, depends on building an Ayurvedic lifestyle that fits your unique situation, dosha constitution, and current symptoms.
Ayurvedic Sleep Remedies: Food as Medicine
The best Ayurvedic diet is personalized based on your unique makeup, stage of life, location, and basically what is going on for you now. An Ayurvedic expert can uncover which foods will be medicine for you and bring balance to Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas–this will help you rest easy. The following tips, however, are helpful for most:
A full stomach at bedtime keeps your body busy digesting food instead of winding down. Instead, eat your largest meal mid-day, and a lighter meal several hours before sleeping. A brisk walk after dinner helps aid digestion and soothes the mind.
When we’re tired, we’re more likely to reach for sweet treats for a quick energy boost – but excess sugar can backfire at bedtime. Prioritize fresh and seasonal organic food, eating as close to how nature grew those foods. (Example: eat an apple versus sugary apple pie.) Mother Nature knows what she’s doing–we benefit when we follow her wisdom.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, which can all disrupt sleep patterns. While it may feel like a stiff drink can help you wind down, alcohol is linked to chronic insomnia and aggravates Vata dosha AND Pitta dosha.
Ayurvedic Sleep Remedies: Herbal Support
Many of the best Ayurvedic sleep remedies harness the power of herbal remedies. These bedtime habits can help bring stillness to mind and balance the doshas in the body.
- Drink a soothing lavender or chamomile tea when you begin your evening routine. A pinch or two of cinnamon, cardamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg in a cup of boiling milk can help soothe Vata and Pitta doshas.
- Apply a few drops of sandalwood or lavender essential oil inside your pillowcase, a nightstand oil diffuser, or a soothing nighttime bath.
- Oil the soles of your feet before bedtime to calm and ground Vata energy. Sleep in socks or wipe off after 15 minutes to avoid messy sheets and slipping.
What is the best natural sleep aid?
Ashwagandha may be one of the best natural sleep aids. Several studies have shown this ancient medical herb to relieve anxiety and stress and improve sleep quality. For an Ayurvedic sleep remedy, mix a teaspoon of Ashwagandha with a cup of warm milk before bed.
However, this herb may NOT be correct for you and for some, depending on the doshas, may be too stimulated by this adrenal adaptogen. It is always best to consult with an experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner for guidance on what herb is correct for you.
“Just because it is natural and organic does not mean it is good for you. Herbs are not one size fits all. One needs guidance with herbals to ensure they are supportive overall and specifically ideal for you.” – Veena
Ayurvedic Sleep Remedies: Lifestyle Tools
Today started yesterday. What we do, what and how we eat, how we move through the day, all affects how we will sleep. Good sleep starts with an intentional morning routine (dinacharya).
“Some people, especially those with a higher Vata dosha, cringe at the word “routine.” Vata is free form and does not want to be caged in. I get it. I explain to my clients that morning and evening dinacharya, not as routine, but rather as following the natural rhythms and surfing those waves. For Vata type people, that really resonates.” – Veena Haasl-Blilie
Vata governs the early morning hours; wake before sunrise to harness its light, fluid, moving energy. Fresh air and exercise after waking help reduce stress throughout the day.
Learn How to Build an Ayurvedic Morning Routine and 6 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night
One of the most powerful Ayurvedic sleep remedies is, simply: maintain a regular sleep schedule.
“Consistency is grounding to Vata dosha and so a consistent sleep schedule is a game changer. When our being knows it can count on something, that provides security, safety and comfort and we naturally relax.” -Veena
While an earlier bedtime is better, head to bed between 9pm and 10:00 pm to align with your circadian rhythm and the rhythm of the doshas. Your ideal sleep and wake time depends on your constitution, current state, location and stage of life. A consultation with an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner is needed to gain insights and clarity about your doshic picture. (An online Ayurveda quiz often falls short.)
Vata, Pitta and Kapha dominate certain times of day. To learn more read The Three Ayurvedic Doshas and Their Impact on Your Life. Even before your work day is done, start preparing your body to wind down.
Lifestyle Tips For a Good Night’s Sleep and a Dosha Balancing Day
“Vata dosha is dominant from 2:00-6:00 in the afternoon. Be aware that it is the time to start letting go, slowing down, taking it a bit easier. Avoid scheduling the hardest work of your day during Vata time. We are still engaged in our tasks and duties of the day, but internally we become aware of the shift and align with the subtle energy. It is similar to downshifting a car. We’ve been in high gear likely since we woke up, now it’s time to shift to a lower gear.
In the evening, around dinner time, it is time to slip into neutral and coast into relaxation. When we follow the natural rhythms of the doshas, we will much more easily fall and stay asleep. When we are in high gear from the moment we wake up until the moment we put our head down, we won’t be relaxed and that will affect sleep. ” -Veena
Our lifestyle habits are a powerful way to calm our minds and reset our natural rhythms. Nasya oil, Abhyanga massage, and guided meditations bring you back to the moment and improve overall well being. When we calm our minds and nervous systems, we move closer to restful, healthful sleep.
Avoid answering emails, scrolling the internet, or watching TV after dinner. Screen time keeps our mind on hyper alert, and inhibits melatonin production. Keep your bedroom dedicated to sleep and tranquility. Create a nourishing environment for meditation, reading, journaling, and winding down. (Get a traditional alarm clock instead of using your phone.)
If you wake up during the night, avoid the temptation to hop on your phone. Instead, use our guided meditations and then fall back asleep. Learn How To Breath Diaphragmatically and Change Your Life.
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