Good sleep is key to good health. Yet educated people of all ages and backgrounds all over the world suffer from lack of quality sleep because their minds won’t shut down at night. In order to retrain the body to sleep when you want it to sleep & reclaim your natural birthright to renew at night, sync with this simple and fun 11 step Ayurveda Healthy Lifestyle ritual.
1. If you want to be in bed slumbering sweetly at 10PM, wake up and get out of bed no later than 6am. Vata time is 2-6 am/pm, Kapha time is 6-10am/pm, and Pitta time is 10-2am/pm. If you wake up in the Vata time you will feel more energized, whereas if you sleep into the Kapha hours you will have a harder time waking up.
2. Drink a maximum of two (2) caffeinated beverage no later than 2pm and that is all for the day. Consuming caffeine such coffee or tea late in the day is a direct request to your mind/body to stay up all night. If you need more energy in the afternoon, have a little chocolate and a peppermint tea and move on to the next step.
3. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. We need to get our heart rates up, sweat, and use our muscles every day! I like to lift weights three times a week and do something like hike, cycle, jog, or swim daily. Find something you enjoy and stick to it or switch up if you get bored easily. If you exercise during your lunch break, chances are you will not be tired at 3pm.
4. Get a little sunshine. Our eyes need natural sunlight. Synthetic indoor lighting and wearing sunglasses outside confuses our body’s biological clock. Our body wants to know, “When should I sleep?” So get some sunlight in the early morning and again in the evening when you can skip the shades.
5. Wind down. Don’t do anything aggressive after the sun sets if you want a good night’s sleep. The setting sun is our queue to wind down. Make yourself a nice cup of relaxing herbal tea (chamomile, licorice, skullcap, valerian), turn off all technology and settle in.
6. Practice PM Yoga. Gentle moon salutations, forward folds, shoulder stands, and twists are a delicious way to unwind and prepare your body and mind for a good night of rest. Ask your body what it needs and how it wants to be stretched. Observe. Listen. Do.
7. Cleanse and oil your feet. At night, after I wash my face, brush my teeth and floss, I wash my feet and oil them. Washing and oiling the feet tells the mind, “The day is done. We are going to sleep now.” Use warm water and a gentle soap if needed. Towel dry. Now oil your fee: Take time to rub your arches, heels, and ankles. I use a coconut oil with Brahmi in summer and in winter I use sesame oil with Brahmi. Massage your hands, neck and head too. Your nervous system is beginning to get the idea that it is time for bed.
8. It’s not dark enough. If you live in the city or near street lights, hang dark curtains or a tapestry to make it extra dark; or buy a silk sleep mask.9. Add white noise. Introduce white noise into your sleep environment so you aren’t jumping at every new sound. I find the hum of a small fan is the perfect background noise for sleeping.
10. Add a few drops of aromatherapy. Once in bed, in the dark, with your white noise and clean, well-oiled feet, place a few drops of a very pure essential oil onto your wrists and on your third eye. I like Floracopeia Lavender, Blue Chamomile and Bulgarian Rose. I keep them next to my bed on a nightstand for easy access.
11. Review your day. Go through the day methodically inhaling the delicious aroma you selected. Focus on the things you are grateful for, congratulating yourself on all you accomplished. This works better than counting sheep. Feel yourself drifting ... zzzzzz.
Shar Veda is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, Yoga Therapist, and herbalist living in Ashland, Oregon. She works with at-risk teenage girls and offers compassionate health and lifestyle counseling anywhere in the world via Skype or the good, old-fashioned telephone. Shar has had the great gift of studying with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for nearly 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio and photos, or find her on Facebook!