What does it look like to be guided by nature for a restorative nocturnal respite? Surprisingly, our morning routine is a great place to begin. Even more surprising is how powerful it is to start by rising with or before the sun. Sleeping in after the sun is up will leave us feeling heavy, dull, and sluggish. Creating time in your morning routine for a warm oil massage to calm the senses and the mind is very beneficial for falling asleep when bedtime arrives. Before starting your work day, make some time to consciously breathe and sit in meditative contemplation.
Exercising appropriately for the season, our age, and personal constitution will further help us have a good night’s sleep. It is important to move every day and this is more beneficial when done consciously. Another great habit is eating our biggest meal in the middle of the day, when the sun and our digestive fire (agni) are both strong. We want our food completely digested before we go to sleep, so make your dinner a lighter meal. If we go to sleep with a belly full of undigested food, our body doesn’t know what it should do. Digest or sleep? Neither will be done well and the detriment is two-fold—food not properly absorbed and another night of poor sleep. It is enough to make you want to sleep in all morning.
Weaving Your Evening Magic
Creating a soothing nighttime ritual will help coax both mind and body into a state where you can slip seamlessly into dreamland. Why is that? Having rituals is a basic human instinct. When developed mindfully they help us to feel safe and grounded. We want to practice repetitive habits that help promote health, stability, and balance.
When we are creating sleep rituals, we want to focus on what will help to calm the five senses which will, in turn, calm the mind. If we can start decreasing sensory input an hour or two before we go to sleep, we give our mind the chance to start to slow down. Create a peaceful place to sleep with no televisions, computers, or video games in the bedroom. This is a sacred space for healing and rejuvenation. Make the space beautiful!
The opposite of this is the mental stimulation that keeps us from falling or staying asleep. We want to shed all the information and mental chatter from the day before going to bed.
Make a commitment to be in bed, if not already asleep, by 10 p.m. This isn't just an arbitrary number. According to Ayurveda, pitta time of night is from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and if you are still up at this hour, you may notice a second wind or perhaps feel the need to snack or problem-solve. The fire element of pitta dosha is related to our metabolism and digestion. We are not just using this fire to digest food but also to digest our experiential thoughts and emotions of the day. Being awake and active is only adding fuel to the fire.
Continue to woo yourself to sleep by using aromatherapy diffusers. Try oils of lavender, vetiver, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot, or marjoram. Rinse off the day in a warm shower. If you have extra time, soak in the tub with some dead sea salts or a relaxing essential oil. This will allow any tight muscles to soften as you prepare for sleep.
Next, you could use Sleep Easy Oil to massage your feet, temples, and ears. On nights when I know I am going to wash my hair in the morning I go all out and do a head massage with Healthy Hair Oil. Not only do I receive the benefit of luscious locks, but the extra herbal oil on my scalp will help slow down my mind and encourage deep, restful, and healing sleep. Just a housekeeping note, I always cover my pillow with a towel when I do this to save my pillow. I also keep a bottle of Nasya Oil next to my bed to lubricate my nostrils. This keeps my nasal passages open, which helps with unrestricted breathing. The oil also further calms my mind. Do you see a common thread here of calming the senses and the mind?
Wind Down with a Warm Beverage
If you do feel that you may need something in your belly to hold you through the night, try some warm, spiced milk. This can be cow’s milk or any nut milk of your choice. The important part is to heat the milk before you drink it. Add some cinnamon to support stable blood sugar during your evening slumber. Also, adding some nutmeg can help calm the whirling thoughts in your mind. A pinch of ginger will aid in digestion, and green cardamom can help to ease stress and lull you to sleep. If you would like to add the super-spice turmeric (with a little pinch of black pepper) to the above spices, this will make your evening milk golden. This yummy nighttime milk will also nourish and soothe your joint tissues and bolster your immune system. Taking I Sleep Soundly tablets before you jump into bed will further help your muscles to relax and your brain to unwind.
Once your head hits your pillow, take just a few moments to review your day. Gently forgive yourself for any shortcomings and feel gratitude for the gifts and lessons that the day has brought. This mental reassurance and moment of thanks can be the final push to send you into peaceful slumber. Everything is fine, you are a fantastic person. Today is over and tomorrow will be here soon. Sweet dreams.