Ayurveda teaches amazing and effective steps to say goodbye to insomnia and welcome deep, rejuvenating, blissful sleep. Here are some of the top recommendations:
1. Fix Your Times to Wake and Sleep
To be able to sleep well at night, it is vitally important to get up in the morning at a fixed time — at or before 6:00am, says Ayurveda. And try to go to bed at or before 10:00pm.
Try your best to establish this routine: wake up before 6am and go to bed by 10pm. Ayurveda did not come up randomly with this suggestion, and instead bases it upon a deep science of chronobiological rhythms. Modern research is demonstrating that indeed, following this specific lifestyle prescription, restores sleep.
Let me forewarn you that once the clock strikes ten, you might get a second wind. You might start thinking about unpaid bills, unanswered e-mails, or the closet that still needs to be reorganized. So as a precaution, I recommend that you take my advice and prepare to go to bed by 9:30pm so that you are well asleep by 10:00pm.
It’s important to establish and maintain this sleep-wake schedule at suggested times. There may be an exceptional day, but let those days be the exception, not the norm. Remember that your inner clock has no concept of “sleeping in” or “making up sleep.” Also, try to have a gap of at least three hours between dinner and bedtime.
2. Relax Your Mind & Body with Warmed Oil Application
An application of oil to the body at bedtime pacifies the nervous energy (from the days activities) and calms the mind. It instantly aids sleep. So one important lifestyle recommendation is that you gently apply a tiny amount of warmed oil to the soles of your feet, your ear lobes, and if possible, the crown of your head. You can use a dry or warm and slightly wet towel to wipe of any excess oil.
3. Eat Sleep-Inducing Foods
Naturally sweet-tasting foods are especially sleep-inducing as per Ayurveda. If you have more than an occasional problem of interrupted sleep, examine your food choices through the daytime and over the week and months and give up drying foods (like chips) and spicy foods (like salsa).
Avocado, banana, dairy, cane sugar, sweet fruits, squashes, nuts, fish and goat meat contain natural sweetness and oiliness and are recommended by Ayurveda. Seafood soup is especially useful for sleep in Ayurveda. Mildly spiced fish and crab soup, in moderate quantity, along with cooked rice on the side, can be a great selection for lunch at least twice a week.
4. Make A Sleep-Promoting Bedtime Recipe
In regard to sleep, dairy can be your friend. All dairy however, is not equal. Fresh boiled and sweetened cow’s milk and its products — sweet cream, fresh butter, and yogurt sweetened with jaggery or cane sugar — are preferred over cheese and buttermilk. Fresh butter is especially useful in combating insomnia, and you can drink warm, spiced milk before bed to induce sleep.
Spiced Milk Recipe for Sleep
This is an excellent sleep-promoting drink. Drink at least three hours after dinner and no later than half an hour before bed.
1 cup whole cow milk
4 cups water
2–3 green cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder)
2–6 saffron threads, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
Sugar, to taste (optional)
Combine milk and water in a medium saucepan. Add all the spices (but not the sugar).
Heat on high, stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to boil.
Quickly reduce heat to medium-low and stir occasionally, ensuring the mixture does not boil over. Cook until the added water has evaporated (20–25 minutes).
Once the liquid has been reduced down to 1 cup (approximately), remove from heat and strain, discarding any pods or spices left at the bottom.
Add sugar to taste. Drink hot or warm.
5. Make Your Bedroom Conducive to Sleep
Make your bedroom a special, restful space (with right intention and not necessarily a monetary investment) that simply invites sleep and calm and awakens you with equal radiance in the morning. Before bedtime, make sure the stage is set for sleep.
The lights can be dimmed in advance, and you can light candles as you prepare for bed. If you have to have a desk in your bedroom, then as night approaches, tidy this area deliberately, close the lid of your computer and other gadgets, and calm this activity area. Shut of all electronic devices at bedtime.
The classic text, Ashtanga Hridayam, from 550–600 CE, suggests pleasant sounds in the background such as soft music or wind chimes; pleasing smells emanating from the essential oils you have applied to your body or fragrant flowers in the room; a fresh, natural breeze; and an inviting, comfortable, well-draped bed in the room, which is essential for a good night’s sleep.
6. Prepare Yourself Mentally for Sleep
A short meditation every night in bed helps settle the mind. Yoga postures can help tremendously promote sleep (but not when they are done at bedtime) include head-to-knee pose, seated forward-bend pose. The corpse pose can be taken up before bed also.
Ultimately, the best mental preparation you can do to welcome sleep is to accept the fact that sleep is your best friend in your quest for health, success, wealth, and relationships.
It is not merely a necessary pause in your life. Sleep is a time for retreat, when you can let go of the world and deeply rest. Once you realize what an important role sleep plays in your physiological and psychological well-being, you will begin to welcome sleep every night.
Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind Vedika Global, an online not-for-profit wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and forthcoming second book with Sounds True to be released in 2020, Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.