There is no excuse anymore for us to not be sleeping. Women need sleep. Men need sleep. Everybody on the planet needs 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Just as we need to exercise, we also need to surrender into rest.
It is also impossible to accomplish your goals if you are chronically sleep deprived. Plus, your mind and body uses sleep as the washing machine for the subconscious mind. If we aren’t slipping into deep dreamtime every night, much of our toxic, unprocessed emotions and experiences don’t get drained away. As Dr. Robert Svoboda says, “Sleep is known as the wet nurse of society.” Raise your hand if you feel like you need to be wet-nursed.
Ayurveda offers an ideal way for transitioning from the activity of the day into the sacred chamber of sleep. Following these routines will make sleep come effortlessly, and will help keep you asleep through the night:
- Set the mood—Depending on the season (in the winter it may be earlier), start turning off overhead lights after dinner. Avoid fluorescent lights always, but especially at night. Low lighting helps tell your body it is time to go to sleep. Lots of light confuses your circadian rhythms and messes with the natural hormones that pull you into the “sleepy feeling.” One of the first questions I ask people who suffer from insomnia is, “Are your overhead lights still on at 8 and 9 PM?” Switch to low level lighting, candles, or install dimmers on your overhead lights to set the mood for sleep.
- No more screen-time—Set an intention to turn off all screens (computers, cellphones, TVs) by 8 or 9 PM. Experts state that when we are exposed to artificial lighting (such as computer and smartphone screens), the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin is suppressed, making us feel more alert and changing our circadian rhythms.
- Be in bed by 10 PM—Have you ever noticed that you get a second wind around 10:30 PM? That’s because the metabolic energy your body normally uses for detoxing you while you sleep gets diverted to mental energy, and we get activated. Our body detoxifies and rejuvenates from 10 PM–2 AM. When we stay up late, we truly do miss out on beauty sleep. If you currently go to bed at midnight, use the fifteen-minute rule. Each night, try going to bed a mere 15 minutes earlier. Within a few weeks, you will be soundly sleeping at 10 PM.
- Take a warm bath—Taking a scented warm bath can help reset the nervous system towards sleep. Use oils such as frankincense, myrrh, lavender, honeysuckle, chamomile, neroli or pure rose for deep slumber.
- Avoid too much mental stimulation—Don’t watch evening news. Its toxic for your dreams. Similarly, avoid planning your future, having intense conversations or any other activity that promotes mental movement before bed.
- Light a candle, read a sweet book that makes your heart melt. Say some prayers, and turn in.
- Unravel the day—There is a powerful meditative practice for unraveling the day. It actually builds your power of assimilation and boosts memory. Once in bed and lying down, mentally go backward through your day in increments of 30 minutes. Try to simply register what was happening to you during the day without judgment. Notice your feelings, relax and let all events go. End with the point where you woke up in the morning. Gently drift into sleep.
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