Are you tired all day and looking forward to going to bed, only to be lying fretting for hours and staring at the ceiling? Or do you wake up in the early hours and can’t fall back to sleep? Sounds familiar? Nothing is as frustrating as insomnia. And no less than 1/4 of the adult Dutch are estimated to suffer from it.
Insomnia & the doshas
Did you know that certain sleep patterns can be related to an imbalance in one of the doshas? Most people wake up at least once at night. If you fall back asleep straightaway, it’s no problem. But does this often bother you and do you have a hard time getting back to sleep? And do you usually lie awake around the same time? That could be a sign that your doshas are out of balance. Every part of the night is dominated by a certain dosha. Therefore, the time at which you wake up can help you determine which dosha is out of balance in your case.
- Do you wake up 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.? Do you often lie worrying and are your thoughts racing, making it difficult to get back to sleep? Then Vata is probably increased.
- Do you wake up between 00:00 and 02:00 a.m.? Do you get hot and do you feel frustrated and angry? Or can’t you fall asleep because your mind is still fully active and sharp? Good chance that Pitta is out of balance.
- Do you sleep deeply into the early morning, but do you wake up feeling heavy, tired, or stuffy? That may indicate that Kapha is aggravated.
Knowing which imbalance is causing your sleep problems enables you to start working on lowering the aggravated dosha. A consultation with an Ayurvedic coach can help you discover the ultimate tips for you.
Why is a good night’s sleep so important?
A good night’s sleep is important for your body and mind to cleanse and regenerate optimally. Also, when feeling rested, you’re much better able to deal with stressful situations and to let go of accumulated tension more easily. The lack of a good night’s sleep can therefore have a big impact both physically and mentally. The annoying thing is that a lack of sleep causes you more stress, and due to a higher level of stress it’s even more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Time to break this cycle!
7 tips for a good night’s sleep
These 7 Ayurvedic tips help you to get in bed relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep
1. Go to bed before 10 p.m. Pitta dosha starts to get active again from about 10 p.m. Pitta is the fire element and turns your power back on, so to speak. Many people notice this because they get an energy boost in the evening. They feel like finishing some work tasks or updating their administration. Sounds fine, but where you need the transformative power of Pitta during the day for your digestion, you now need it to transform all your experiences of the day. Because of this, it’s best for you to sleep at this time, allowing this process to take place completely. Moreover, it is more difficult to fall asleep when your brain is again in active mode.
2. Give yourself a foot massage with warm oil before you get into bed. Sesame oil is my favourite in winter, but almond oil or olive oil, for example, are also good choices. Get a high-quality oil, cold-pressed and organic. Heat the oil for a moment au bain marie and use this to massage your feet lovingly. Put on socks afterwards. The oil massage calms your nervous system and helps balancing Vata.
3. Take your attention inside before getting into bed with yoga, meditation, or pranayama. As a breathing exercise, Nadi Shodana is perfect for balancing your Yin and Yang energy. Yoga poses in which you bend forward are a nice way to calm you down and settle the mind. Think of child’s pose, seated and standing forward fold, seated butterfly, and legs-up-the-wall pose. Finish with a long savasana or with a nice Yoga Nidra session for the ultimate relaxation. I’m a big fan of the Nidra sessions of House of Deep Relax. Curious? You can try it out using this link.
4. Do you often wake up in the morning not feeling rested, even though you’ve slept quite deeply for enough hours? Set that alarm a little earlier. The ideal time to get up is about 45 minutes before sunrise. That’s Vata time, meaning that when waking up in this period, you’ll make the most of the creative Vata energy and take it with you during the day. Also avoid sleeping during the day; when you collapse, try to wake yourself up with some deep breaths or a walk in the open air.
5. Coffee! Or rather not. Coffee has a half-life of almost 5 hours; which means that the stimulating effect of coffee lasts for a very long time. Feeling like enjoying a cup of coffee? Take it in the morning. Add some cardamom to your coffee to neutralize its acidity.
6. Make your bedroom an oasis of calm. Make sure there is no clutter and create a warm and peaceful environment. Perform a sleeping ritual every night to get yourself in the mood. Routine is the best remedy for a troubled mind. Use essential oils like chamomile or lavender, drizzle a few drops on your pillow to help you relax.
7. Nature gives us beautiful herbs and spices that can help you with restlessness or a good night’s sleep. Consider freshly ground nutmeg, chamomile, valerian, ashwaganda, and brahmi. If you want to start using certain supplements, consult an Ayurvedic coach so that you know exactly which herbs are good for you.
In short, the nature of your sleep problems is very closely linked to how the doshas relate. It’s therefore important to look at your life in a holistic way in addition to these general tips. Are you stressed all the time? Then tackle this at the heart of the problem, especially if the stress has been bothering you for quite some time. Find out which lifestyle and eating patterns are right for you and fill your life with gratitude and love. A good night’s sleep is then guaranteed.