It's easy to think missing a little sleep here or there isn't a big deal, especially to accomplish more things. I used to believe this, and experienced many, many late nights using quietness of nighttime to catchup on my work, etc.
The reality of losing sleep, however, is quite harsh. Whereas proper sleep gives you the ability to receive knowledge, ancient Ayurveda texts teach us that lack of proper sleep not only puts us in poor mental states, but hampers our focus and creativity and decision-making abilities.
As a student, and now practitioner of Ayurveda, I have tried a range of all-natural, dietary and lifestyle-based solutions to a variety of health challenges, including insomnia. Here are four easy to incorporate changes:
1. Sleep by 10pm and arise by 6/7am.
"Early to bed, early to rise" is not only a popular colloquial expression; it's also one of Ayurveda's most important insomnia solutions. By going to sleep no later than 10:00 pm each evening, and arising no later than 7am, you benefit from the time frame it's easiest to fall and remain asleep. You also live in greater overall harmony with the natural cycles of day and night.
The atmosphere during the time period between 8:30 am and 10:00 pm has a potent quality known in Ayurveda psychology as tamas, which is essentially inertia or dullness. Tamas is a very helpful quality for making it easier to sleep. During the daytime, starting at 6:00 am, the atmosphere is charged with the quality of rajas, which is connected with activity and movement.
2. Turn off your T.V. and laptop after 8:00 pm.
Your mind and psyche is constantly bombarded with inputs from a variety of media throughout the day. By turning off the television and computer screens at night, you can do your sleep a big favor by allowing yourself to stay away from mental distractions and start to prepare for the upcoming act of sleep.
3. Create a bedtime ritual.
Speaking of preparing for sleep at night, Harvard Business Review recently published an article about the importance of having a meaningful practice to help wind down your day. The science of Ayurveda has recommended this for thousands of years, via its various dinacharya (daily routine) practices.
According to dinacharya, you should spend the hours of 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm in the company of the people, pets, books and activities that give you a sense of peace, calmness and grounding. Just before bedtime, it's recommended to adopt a practice that inspires you, such as reading an uplifting book, writing in your journal, going for an evening walk, listening to soothing music, or practicing meditation.
4. Oil your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears.
Another wonderful health ritual Ayurveda recommends for sound, quality sleep is the practice of oiling the soles of your feet, the top of your head, and the back of your ears with warm sesame oil. Doing so not only promotes healthy sleep; it also helps to combat stress.
When I follow these Ayurvedic practices, I notice an immediate difference in the quality of sleep I experience. Try these tips and see for yourself!