A bedtime routine is almost essential in Ayurveda. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important, yet it is one of the first things we sacrifice in order to get more work done, or to watch that one last episode on Netflix. Sometimes, it’s just too hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Resting our bodies and brains ensures we have enough energy the next day; it gives our systems a break to wind down and prep for what’s ahead. Even though we’ve shut down, our brains work hard to rejuvenate, relax, and process everything that happened during the day. When we don’t get enough sleep or even good quality sleep, it taxes not only our nervous system, but our adrenal glands as well.
Having a good bedtime routine can help with better sleep. One of my favorite things to do as well is to give my clients a nice warm milk recipe with different herbs to incorporate into their wind-down process.
Try any of the following depending on what you want to work on. All you do is pour one glass of milk into a pot and warm it on the stove. Mix in the herbs and bring to a slow boil. If you would like to add a sweetener, try some maple syrup or turbinado sugar—just enough to give you a taste. You don’t want the aroma of the herbs to be masked by the sugar.
It’s best to drink the milk about 2–3 hours after dinner and 1–2 hours before bedtime. You don’t want your digestion working hard while you’re trying to sleep. You can add cardamom, cinnamon, and/or ginger to any of these to make them a little more digestible. Sometimes mixing ½ cow’s milk and ½ almond milk also makes for easier digestion.
To Calm & Cool
If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep because of excess heat or an agitated/irritated mind, you might have excess pitta in your majja vaha srotas, or your nervous system. I know this one hits home for me. I often wake up in the middle of the night because I get too hot. Try this milk to help cool and calm both your mind and body.
- ½ tsp Anantamul
- Handful of organic rose petals (fresh or dry)
*Maple syrup is a great sweetener for this one—add it in after heating! You can also add a sprig of saffron for more flavor, and to help that pitta!
To Ground & Settle
Many times our bodies are not ready to go to sleep. We’re constantly running around throughout the day, and it’s tough to calm the body and mind. They’re running on full speed, even at 10pm. This can increase the light and clear qualities of our systems, also making it hard to get a good night’s rest. This version is great for those who have some high vata. The herbs are super for grounding and giving a little heaviness to the body so it’s ready to fall asleep.
To Rejuvenate & Replenish
Taking herbs at night or before bedtime has a direct affinity to working on the mind, as the night hours are those that target the nervous system and brain directly. Make this milk if you want to give your body a nice rest, with the added bonus of manasika herbs, or herbs that work directly on the mind.