Ayurveda considers proper management of sleep to be one of three pillars in life, along with proper management of digestion and proper management of sexual energy and the senses.
It’s old news that sleep is a very important component when it comes to our health. We spend about a third of our life asleep, and without proper sleep, our bodies and minds are not able to recover from physical or mental exertion. Both sleep and health are closely related, poor sleep can indicate bad health, and bad health can produce bad sleep, so it’s important that we pay attention to our sleep and learn how to manage it well if we want to stay on top form and maximise good health.
All treatment program’s within Ayurveda will begin by looking at these three pillars of life first, and Ayurveda emphasises a daily routine incorporating the management of these three areas so that the body is able to prevent disease, stay healthy, and be bursting with energy and vitality.
In this article, we will be focusing on sleep habits and how we can get the most out of our sleep to improve our health.
Follow these simple guidelines to start sleeping better…
1. How much sleep do I need?
Everyone is different here, so remove the idea that we all need to be getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Most people will need anywhere between 5-10 hours. But what’s important is that you start to be more mindful about how the amount of sleep makes you feel. Keep a sleep diary for a few weeks so that you can notice how you feel after more or less sleep, and adjust this accordingly to what makes you feel best. There is no one size fits all.
2. Keep Regular
Try and keep your bedtime and waking time as regular as possible. Generally, you want to be in bed by 10.30 pm, and rising around sunrise is the most desired time to wake up. (That may not be most desirable in those summer months in the UK though!)
Just try to be as consistent as you can – this is especially important for Vata Dosha!
3. Do not fight your tiredness
If you’re sitting on the sofa watching your favorite Netflix series and suddenly you feel that wonderful sensation of your eyes becoming heavy… Do not resist it! Go to bed, your body is telling you it’s time to rest and if you fight the urge you fight the natural rhythms of the body.
4. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime
Caffeine is a stimulant and it takes around 6 hours for the caffeine to leave your system, so drinking it after lunchtime will increase your energy and make it harder to wind down and sleep when bedtime comes.
5. Avoid or reduce alcohol
For many reasons I would say this should be implemented, mainly because I believe alcohol to be a substance that lowers a person’s frequency and consciousness while producing unwanted toxins in the body, so if you are on a spiritual path alcohol will only hinder your progress.
In regards to sleep, we often think that a glass of wine or a beer will help us relax and get a good night’s sleep, but this is not true at all. Whilst it may act as a sedative early on, once the alcohol starts to wear off we then spend more time in lighter sleep, therefore not as good quality. Alcohol also lowers melatonin production which is necessary for good sleep.
6. Your bedroom is for sleep
Your bedroom is for sleeping so keep it that way. Avoid having technology in there, which includes TV, phones, laptops, etc. Make a calming and welcoming environment where your body and mind will know as soon as you walk into the bedroom that it’s time to rest.
7. Do not eat close to bedtime
Our digestion is much weaker in the evening so eating late at night will put extra unneeded stress on the system when the body needs to take the time to repair and heal. So if you can, eat your meal by 7 pm.
To delve deeper and learn how to increase your digestive fire check out my article:
I would suggest implementing one or two at a time so that you have a chance to get used to each one and not feel overwhelmed in the process. Once they have become a habit, add another one. Using Ayurveda for sleep can have fantastic results on your entire functioning and how you feel in body and mind, I hope you found this article helpful.
Want to improve your sleep even further?
These Yoga Nidra practices can help. As little as 10 minutes of yoga nidra is said to be the equivalent as 30 minutes of restful sleep and these practices will help you sleep better at night regardless of when you practice.