How to Create Daily Rituals for Better Sleep
What does it look like to be guided by nature for a restorative nocturnal respite? From an Ayurvedic perspective, the quality of our sleep is part of a much larger picture. This includes not only our bedtime rituals or the type of mattress we use, but also the patterns we set throughout the entire day.
Of course, Ayurveda also has lots of juicy tips and rituals specifically for winding down at night and supporting balanced sleep. And don’t worry, we’ll get there!
But before we do, let’s zoom out and take a moment to talk about the importance of a daily routine. After all, everything you do, eat, think, and experience throughout the course of a day sets the tone for how well you sleep at night.
Great Sleep Starts with a Morning Routine
Believe it or not, getting sound and restful sleep at night begins with how we start the day.
First of all, do your best to wake up with or before the sun. It may not be easy at first, but this one simple habit begins to put your body in tune with the natural cycles of sleeping and waking. Sleeping in after the sun is up tends to leave us feeling dull and sluggish and can throw off our cycles for the rest of the day.
Next, create time in your morning routine for a warm oil massage. This ritual helps to calm the senses and the mind and has lasting effects on the nervous system—even when bedtime arrives.
Similarly, carving out some time before starting your workday to consciously breathe and sit in meditation has lasting positive effects that ripple throughout the day and even into the dream state.
Exercising appropriately for the season, your age, and your personal constitution will further help you have a good night’s sleep. It is important to move at least a little bit every day, and better sleep is just one benefit among many.
Another great habit is eating your biggest meal in the middle of the day, when the sun and your digestive fire, or agni, are both strong. You want your food completely digested before you go to sleep, so make your dinner a lighter meal, and eat at least a couple hours before bed.
If you go to sleep with a belly full of undigested food, your 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.
A Relaxing Evening Ritual: 7 Steps to Restful Sleep
Okay, now for the part you’ve been waiting for—the sleep-promoting evening routine! When it follows a balanced morning routine, creating a soothing bedtime ritual will help coax both mind and body into a state where you can slip seamlessly into dreamland.
Why is that? Because having rituals is a basic human instinct that helps us feel safe and grounded. When we practice repetitive habits that help promote stability and balance, our bodies naturally realign with their healthy blueprint, including sound and restful sleep.
Here are 7 steps to creating a relaxing sleep ritual that will have you sleeping like an angel.
1. Power Down Your Screens
The mental stimulation that happens when we’re plugged into our screens—whether phones, computers, or television—keeps us from falling asleep and also interrupts our ability to stay asleep.
Start decreasing your sensory input an hour or two before you plan to go to sleep. This will give your mind and nervous system the chance to naturally relax and slow down, leaving the mental stimulation from the day behind.
You can also begin to send signals to your mind that it’s time to relax by dimming the lights in your home.
2. Make Your Space Beautiful
Create a peaceful and beautiful place to sleep. Think of your bedroom as your sleep temple—a sacred space for healing and rejuvenation. This can look any way you choose, as long as it feels calming, safe, and cozy to you.
This can be accomplished with lighting, the sheets you choose, your favorite plants, and gentle, calming music.
Try to keep this space clean, since physical clutter can create mental stress, and make sure there are no televisions, computers, or video games to distract you.
3. Unwind with Aromatherapy
Continue to woo yourself to sleep by using aromatherapy to soothe and calm your senses. Try essential oils of lavender, vetiver, roman chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot, or marjoram.
You can use these in a diffuser to bring their relaxing scents to your space, or combine them with the soothing powers of warm water. Rinse off the day in a warm shower or soak in the tub with epsom salts and a few drops of essential oil.
This will allow any tight muscles to soften as you prepare for sleep. It will also support the gentle unwinding of your mind and nervous system.
4. Practice Self-Massage
To continue the process of whole-being relaxation, warm some Sleep Easy Oil and use it to massage your feet, temples, and ears. Or if you have the time, give yourself a grounding and luxurious whole-body self-massage.
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 and put old socks on my feet when I do this to protect my linens from oily residue.
5. Enjoy a Warm Bedtime Beverage
If you 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, with a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, or turmeric. The important part is to heat the milk before you drink it.
For a quick and easy bedtime beverage, try whipping up some Ashwagandha Latte. This delicious blend features grounding adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and shatavari to support deep relaxation of the body and mind.
6. Go to Sleep by 10 p.m.
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, the pitta time of night is from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The fire element of pitta dosha is related to our metabolism and digestion. We don’t just use this fire to digest food, but also to digest our experiences, thoughts, and emotions of the day.
So if you are still up at this hour, you may notice a second wind or feel the need to snack or problem-solve. Being awake and active only adds fuel to the fire.
Being in bed by 10 p.m. allows the body to rest before the pitta qualities arise, bettering your chance for truly restful sleep.
7. Review your Day
Once your head hits your pillow, take a few moments to review your day. Gently forgive yourself for any shortcomings and offer thanks for the gifts and lessons that the day brought your way.
This mental review helps to complete the cycle of the day, sending you into peaceful slumber with a sense of gratitude.
Tomorrow is a new day full of mystery and possibility. Who knows what it will bring. For now, close your eyes and drift away—sweet dreams await you!