AYURVEDIC SLEEP REMEDIES
So You Can Rest Better, Naturally
When was the last time you got a good night’s rest? If you can’t quite remember, you’re not alone in your sleeplessness. A third of American adults get less than the recommended 8 hours of rest per night. And even if you get a full 8, you still might feel groggy and crappy! It’s like a Catch-22.
If your philosophy is that you’ll “sleep when you’re dead,” you might want to rethink your philosophy. When we don’t get enough sleep, it can affect our skin, weight, heart health, and mental health. Getting enough hours of good sleep is key to staying happy and healthy.
So whether your quality or quantity of sleep is less than ideal, we have a few gems of wisdom from Ayurveda to help you out.
Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine, first developed over 3,000 years ago in what is now India. People have always had trouble sleeping, and Ayurvedic medicine has picked up a few tricks along the way to help with insomnia and sleep troubles. Here’s the best Ayurvedic techniques for getting more, better rest.
The Basics: Ayurveda and Sleep
In the Ayurvedic belief, each of us has the five elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth inside us. The different combinations of these energies create three groups of dosha. These are Vata dosha (space and air), Pitta dosha (fire and water), and Kapha dosha (water and earth). You have all of these doshas inside you, but one dosha is usually stronger than the other two.
In Ayurveda, a dosha imbalance causes most sleep problems. Here’s how to tell what kind of dosha imbalance you might have:
- Vata imbalance: You might have too much Vata dosha if you can’t get to sleep because your mind won’t stop racing. If you start to spiral and relive your day while you’re in bed, try to reduce your Vata dosha.
- Pitta imbalance: If you fall asleep right away but wake at the crack of dawn and can’t get back to sleep, you probably have an imbalanced Pitta dosha.
- Kapha imbalance: If you’re the kind of person who sleeps for 8 or more hours but still feels tired all the time, you likely have an issue with your Kapha dosha.
5 Tips for Better Sleep With Ayurveda
Follow the Ayurvedic Clock
Doshas also correspond to the times of day. In the Ayurvedic clock, there are six two-hour increments, each controlled by a different dosha. Depending on the dosha that controls a window of time, some time blocks are better for eating, sleeping, or working out than others.
According to this clock, the best time to go to bed is before 10 pm, and it’s ideal to wake up at 6 am. Even if you don’t stick exactly to this schedule, you’ll get the best rest between these hours.
Skip The Midnight Snack
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you might stay up so late that you’re tempted to have a late-night snack. But according to the Ayurvedic tradition, it’s best to skip the snack. Instead, eat an early dinner and stop eating two hours before you hit the pillow.
That’s because the middle of the day–aka lunchtime–is when Pitta fire is the strongest. Since your digestion is connected to Pitta, lunch should be the biggest meal of the day. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, try opting for a big lunch, light supper, and no pre-bed snack.
Ditch the Booze
You might think that drinking helps you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. After all, there’s nothing like a few glasses of Cabernet to have you yawning.
But actually, drinking alcohol can mess up your sleep. That’s because once you actually start to digest the alcohol, it disrupts your sleep rhythms. So when you go to bed tipsy, you’re more likely to stay in the lighter stages of sleep and not get any good quality REM sleep. Drinking alcohol also overstimulates the liver, which is connected to Pitta energy. Too much Pitta will make you restless and fidgety–not exactly conducive to a good night’s rest.
So while you might fall asleep quickly after a few beers, you could wake up very early, or wake up and not feel rested at all.
Put On Some Weight
There’s no need to ditch the gym if you’re trying to get more rest. But adding some extra weight can help you drift off to dreamland.
Weighted blankets popped up a few years ago and fans say they help with everything from anxiety to insomnia. But that’s an old trick in Ayurveda. When we have too much Vata energy, our legs can get restless and stop us from getting a good night’s sleep, and a little extra weight can help to quiet that energy. Of course, you don’t need to invest in a weighted blanket just to catch some Z’s. You can just lay a pillow across your legs, and it should do the trick.
Sleep on the Right Side
Did you know your sleeping position can affect the way you sleep? Depending on how you sleep, certain dosha are more likely to grow or flourish.
If you sleep on your left side, you’ll encourage fiery Pitta energy. This is ideal if you’ve been feeling groggy or fuzzy. So if you need a burst of mental energy, try snoozing on your left side. This position is best for kapha types. But if you’re struggling to get deep sleep, try turning onto your right side. This is best for Pitta types, and should increase your Kapha levels. And no matter what side you sleep on, make sure to use a pillow between your knees to make sure your pelvis stays aligned.
Try not to sleep on your stomach because it’s hard on your neck and makes it difficult to breath. If you can’t sleep on your sides, try sleeping on your back. This position is ideal for Vata types. Just don’t prop your pillows up so high that you’re craning your neck. That won’t feel good in the morning.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, don’t just suffer in silence. If it becomes a habit, you’re looking at premature aging, constant irritability, and an increased risk of stroke. So when you find yourself tossing and turning, try these tips from Ayurveda to help get the best night of sleep you’ve had in a while.