The majority of us rarely feel well-rested as we rush through our lives, and a lack of sleep or ineffective bedtime routines can play a large role in that.
Ayurveda, meaning “the science of life” is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems that has been used in India for more than 5000 years. In Ayurveda, sleep is as important as diet in helping to maintain a healthy body and balanced mind. It is the time when your body is able to repair and heal itself, whilst allowing your mind and emotions to come into balance. Hence why consistently bad sleep can bring on irritableness, fatigue and affect our mental health.
There are 3 types of sleep issues caused by imbalances in the biological energies found throughout the body and mind, called Doshas:
Vata (Earth + Water) imbalance: This is when you’re recapping your day and your mind is reproducing the feelings and emotions that accompanied them, and as a result unable to detach and rest properly. Either you won’t be able to fall asleep, or your sleep will be so light and restless that you’ll wake up tired.
Pitta (Fire + Water) imbalance: When you have no issues falling asleep, but you wake up in the early hours of the morning and cannot go back to sleep. People who are experiencing an emotional trauma in their lives or people with an imbalance in Pitta are prone to this type of sleep imbalance.
Kapha (Space +Air) imbalance: This occurs when a person sleeps long and deeply, but feels exhausted when they wake up. The result is a lethargic, dull feeling which continues throughout the day.
Is there a best time to sleep?
Yes, based on Ayurvedic principles we should try to wind down from 6pm (though practically speaking that can be tough!), try to sleep by 10pm and be up at 6am to get our optimal sleep without feeling groggy the next day. Consistency in sleep times is important.
What position is optimal to sleep in?
Sleeping on your left side facilitates lymphatic drainage and is said to improve your digestive system as gravity encourages the food waste to move more easily from the small intestine to the large intestine. Sleeping with a pillow or support between bent knees is best for your spinal alignment.
General tips to help you wind down and get a good night’s sleep:
- Take a warm bath in the evening
- Drink warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg
- Massage sesame oil onto your feet, adding a drop of essential oil like lavender or jasmine for fragrance
- Practice alternate nostril breathing for 5-10 mins called Pranayama
- Meditation is ideal to help bring peace and balance to your mind
- Make sure the temperature of your room is slightly cool as warm temperatures is often the cause of waking up in the middle of the night
- Try to avoid checking your phone or other electronics just before bed
- Remember that bedtime is not the time to solve life’s problems
- Drink a glass of room temperature water when you wake up in the morning to help flush away your toxins and get those intestines moving