In our modern world, sleep is completely undervalued. We live in this fast-paced culture where we push ourselves day in and out, running our bodies and minds into the ground without recognizing the physical and emotional affects of chronic fatigue. Dr. Claudia Welch has a great anecdote about this very thing. She says, “When we’re hungry – we eat, when we’re thirsty – we drink, when we’re tired, we think – what’s wrong?”. One of the most essential practices we can do for our health, beyond all the beautiful conscious foods we consume, is to get enough rest so we can properly digest and receive the nutrients from the food and lessons from our day. Here are a few rituals to add to your nighttime routine for better sleep….
Create A Sanctuary
All through college and into the early days of starting my business, I used to work on my laptop in bed throughout the day and into the late hours of the night. Then, I might watch a movie…and sometimes I’d even eat my meals while on my computer…in bed. So when it came time to sleep, it was no wonder I would wake up through out the night or have troubles falling asleep. It’s essential to make your bedroom your sanctuary and leave mentally stimulating activities, like work or movie watching, to separate spaces in the home.
Ayurveda’s sister science, Vastu Shastra, recommends the bedroom to be a peaceful place. You can even organize your bedroom to work with the energies of the four directions and elements, positioning your bed so your head faces east or south to promote sound sleep. In Sherri Silverman’s book, Vastu, she explains that sleeping with your head pointing north is draining and speeds up the aging process. Because of the magnetic polar effects in the body, the northern direction has a negative effect on energy flow in the body and can be too stimulating on the nervous system while sleeping. Equally, if you have a strong Vata constitution, sleeping with the head facing north can be too agitating because the north/northwest quadrant of the room is the element of air/space. Generally, you would want to harness the earth element of the south instead for a more grounding and calming effect for all three doshas. If you can’t position your bed in these directions, don’t stress – simply keep your bedroom as a peaceful place for sleeping and your other rooms for activity. Keep it clean and the clutter to a minimal.
Finish eating before 7pm, allow plenty of time to digest and settle before bed. When we eat a late or heavy meal in the evening, it dampens our digestive fire and interrupts our organs natural cleansing process in the nighttime hours. Instead, opt for lunch as your largest meal and keep dinner light, warm and simple.
Sipping warm water or tea after a meal can aid digestion and set you up for sleep. Keep a stock of soothing sleepy time herbal teas like chamomile, lavender, lemon balm or valerian.
Turn the heat down or crack a window in your bedroom. Studies show that sleeping in a warm and stuffy room can disrupt deeper sleep patterns. This is essential for those with a pitta imbalance! Our circadian rhythms naturally keep our body warmer in the day and begin to cool us down at night to prepare for sleep. An NIH study also showed that sleeping in a 66-degree room increases the bodies stores of metabolically active brown fat, which helps your body burn calories and dispose of excess blood sugar. This is essential for those with a pitta imbalance!
Okay, so now we know not to work on your laptop or watch tv in bed, but what about that nasty habit of scrolling through instagram after you turn the lights out? NO! Blue light stimulation from all electronic screens negatively affects melatonin production, hindering your body’s ability to produce the hormones that help you sleep and regenerate through the night. Melatonin is not just a supplement, it’s a hormone made in your body by the pineal gland. It’s actually produced in darkness and inhibited by light. The levels of your melatonin increase in the middle of the night and gradually fall as the night turns to morning, so exposure to light before bed can push your biological clock in the wrong direction. Melatonin also works to lower overall body temperature, so that idea of the body cooling down to fall asleep is also essential. A simple remedy to this modern problem – leave all electronics out the bedroom and remove any artificial light sources that keep the brain stimulated while you’re falling asleep. Ladies – this is also essential for estrogen production and healthy reproductive hormone balance! Read more about lunaception here.
Keep a bottle of your favorite herbal oils by your bed and give yourself a lovely foot massage to wind down. You can also rub this into the ears and around the temples for an additional grounding effect. Banyan Botanicals has a Sleep Oil that’s great for this.
It’s so hard… I know. But seriously, now that your phone, tv and computer are out of the bedroom – turn all the lights out by 10pm and go to sleep! Your whole body will thank you and your morning routine will feel so much juicier!
LUCID DREAMING TONIC TEA
Anima Mundi’s Dream Tea is made from biodynamic and organically grown ingredients. This calming blend aids in deeper sleep, supporting the nervous system and sharpening your connection to the dreaming realms. When the brain is in the Alpha and Beta states, it enters into a deeply regenerative space and supports rejuvenation in the whole body.
Add 2 tbsp of loose leaf tea to a french press, tea pot or single tea bag. Pour hot water over top and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Sip slowly before bed.
Anima Mundi Apothecary is gifting a bag of their potent Lucid Dreaming Tonic Tea to two lucky winners in this week’s giveaway!
Two winners will be selected and notified by May 31st, 2016!