We all know the value of sleep. Perhaps more importantly, at some point in our lives we’ve endured the consequences of not getting enough sleep. Both the quality and quantity of sleep play into our moods, hormones, organ restoration, and energy levels.
Creating an environment that promotes deep sleep will help you restore and rejuvenate physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here are eight tricks inspired by the holistic practices of Ayurveda and Yoga.
- Unplug—remove the television and excess gadgets. Sleep is a time of digestion. During our 6–8 hours of rest we are metabolizing the onslaught of information, stimulation, and experiences we consumed that day. Watching television, working on the computer, and playing games on the phone create a sort of mental indigestion that disturbs our sleep patterns. In addition, the high frequency blue light emanated by such gadgets distorts our pineal gland, hampering our ability to properly interpret the sun and moon cycles. The distortion of wake/sleep signals impairs the proper secretion of melatonin—the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.
A good night's sleep should not be a luxury; it's a necessity.
- Paint the walls of your bedroom a neutral or calming color such as beige, light blue, or soft green. Loud colors like yellow, red, and orange stimulate our pitta nature. Pitta is ambitious and goal-oriented, and the bedroom is no place to try to conquer the world through projects and strategic planning. The bedroom should look and feel like an oasis. Cooling spa colors illicit tranquility. Earthy colors such as beige, taupe, and gray have a grounding effect on the nervous system. Stick with calming colors, and avoid stimulating colors in the bedroom.
- Use a diffuser to infuse the air with soothing essential oils such as lavender, ylang ylang, and jasmine. We are a product of our senses and the olfactory sense is incredibly powerful, especially when it comes to linking smell to experience. By training our nervous system with peaceful aromas at bedtime, we begin to spontaneously relax when in the company of such peaceful scents.
- Have a heavy pillow or bolster handy to place over your pelvis on restless nights. Restlessness is associated with high vata. Vata is the dosha that governs the movement of the body and mind. The main site of vata in the body is the low belly/pelvis area. By anchoring this region of the body with a weighted pillow or bolster we ground vata. When we’re more grounded, the nervous system settles and we have space to glide into a deep sleep.
- Drink Golden Milk and have a place to rest your mug after you've finished. Golden Milk is an ancient elixir that is used to ease stress and promote sleep. To make Golden Milk, combine ½ teaspoon each of turmeric and ginger powder, a pinch each of nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon powder, and 8 ounces of organic warm almond milk (or milk of your choice). This elixir is a relaxing and delicious night cap.
- Get a phone case that blocks non-ionizing radiation, download the “Insight Timer,” and use Yoga Nidra guided meditations to help you sleep. The word yoga means union, and the word nidra means sleep. Yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation that uses the natural mapping process of the brain to help you sleep. It is important to purchase a phone case that blocks the radiation that is emitted from your phone because it can disturb your sleep. Once you have your case and Insight Timer, get comfy in bed, place your phone on your nightstand, and hit play. The yoga nidra recording will come to an end without interruption and you can stay sound asleep.
- Keep rose water next to your bed to spritz your face in the morning—especially if you're feeling groggy. Waking up refreshed is a positive side effect of a fabulous sleep routine and sanctuary-like space. As icing on your cake, you can spritz your face with a mist of rose water when you wake. Rose water is refreshing and hydrating. You’ll find the fragrance to be sweet and calming. Due to the cooling properties of rose water, this is especially useful during the summer.
- Keep eucalyptus, sweet orange, or lemongrass essential oil nearby. Dab a few drops on your hands, rub your hands together, and take three deep breaths upon rising. These essential oils will awaken and enliven your senses so you can start your day feeling clear and bright.