Ayurvedic sleep tips
Restless to restful
Turns out the type of sleep issues you might be experiencing can be linked back to Doshic imbalances, caused by too much Vata, Pitta or Kapha energies in our body**.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep: sign of too much Vata
- Junk light: Just like junk food, modern electric lighting is like unhealthy ‘junk light’ for our system. Bright lights at night or sitting super close to screens, tell your brain it's daytime. So dim it all down as soon as you come home. Candlelight encouraged.
- Midnight magnesium: Try a spoonful of magnesium citrate powder an hour before you go to bed, or soak yourself in an epsom salt bath.
- Saved by Spotify: Burn incense and put on relaxing music 20 minutes before you go to bed, like this.
- Sleep asana: Forward fold Uttanasana is great just before sleeping.
- Footloose: Take two minutes in bed to massage your feet with warm sesame or coconut oil.
If you are waking up during the night: sign of too much Pitta
- Wine math: Ideally you don’t have alcohol at night, as alcohol is a pitta-aggravating substance. But…hello red wine. So give each glass you have at least one hour to metabolise through your system before going to bed. Example: if you have 2 glasses at dinner, make sure you leave 2 hours between the time you drink them, and the time you go to bed.
- Last call for caffeine: Refrain from caffeine after 14h. Swap it out for Rooibos instead.
- To pee or not to pee: Stop drinking water at least an hour before bed. Getting up to pee during the night has been normalised but in truth it’s no bueno for your sleep cycles.
- Exercise by day: doing it at night can excite.
If you wake up in the morning feeling lethargic and tired: sign of too much Kapha
- Resting not digesting: At night your body and digestive system need to be given time to rest. So try and leave a few hours between your meal and bedtime.
- Rebrand dinner: think of it now as ‘light supper’. In Ayurveda it’s recommended to have the largest meal at lunch when the sun, and your digestive fire, are at their highest. Breakfast is a medium meal and dinner, when the sun has gone to sleep, should be light and easy.
- Sorry, no sugar: after dinner. It sits and ferments in your stomach, causing bloating. Opt for a small square of 100% cacao instead.
- Sit in this position: for optimal digestion
- Sunlight helps you sleep: Try and get 15 minutes of direct sunlight first thing in the morning. It energises and helps to regulate the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
** According to Ayurveda, Doshas are biological energies that make up our internal constitution. These are of three forms – Vata (made up of air and ether), Pitta (fire dominant), and Kapha (earth and water dominant).
Some resources on sleep:
Favourite book: Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD
Ayurveda meets sleep science: Change your Schedule, Change your Life by Dr Suhas Kshirsager