Remedies: Ayurvedic Sleep Tonic

I’ve recently rekindled my relationship with a regular Mysore practice. It’s safe to say Ashtanga was my first real love and gateway into the yoga world. Well, technically it was my mom when I was 7 years old who took me to a gentle hatha yoga class at our local fitness club in the early 90s. Or you could say it was the Jivamukti DVD I did on endless repeat in my bedroom when I was in high school growing up on a small island town in Alaska. But it didn’t truly really click in as a devoted path and foundation for self-inquiry until I was 19, when I walked into my first Ashtanga class the day Pattabhi Jois passed away, and through the sweat and tears shared in class I knew I had found home in a practice.

Over the last decade, my relationship with Ashtanga and my overall approach to asana has taken many forms as I’ve explored injuries and imbalances. As I’m learning more about myself through Ayurveda, my asana practices have become much more fluid and less rigid. There are times I find myself needing more fire, and there are times I need to pull back instead of push forward. Lately, it’s felt good to come back to an early morning asana practice and explore the energy of the Mysore room again with a seasoned teacher. This means early to bed and early to rise, a rhythm I appreciate so much when I honor.

This Ayurvedic tonic recipe is both a remedy for better sleep and building overall vitality.  The combination of soaked almonds, ghee, sweet dates and raw honey are considered to be rasayanas – foods that nourish and build vitality. Rasa can be translated to “juice” or “essence”, and Ayana as “path” – so rasayanas are literally a pathway to juiciness. This juicy vitality is also known as Ojas, the subtle essence that provides our bodies with strength and immunity. Many things deplete Ojas in our life, including stress, poor diet, irregular routine, dissonant emotions and lack of loving connections, to name a few. Many nourishing activities help to restore this loss of vitality in our lives, including establishing healthy daily routines, incorporating wholesome building foods (like fresh sweet fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts/seeds, and healthy fats like ghee), meditation and mindful movement, and spending time in nature connecting with her rhythms. Special herbs are also considered rasayanas – including Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Shatavari, Shilajit, Licorice and Saffron, which are more effective at penetrating the tissues when paired with sweet and a bit of fat.

This recipe uses Ashwagandha, a unique adaptogenic herb that enables the body to reserve and sustain vital energy throughout the day while aiding restful sleep at night. It is considered one of the best herbs for pacifying vata, which can often cause difficulties staying sleeping at night (read more about that here).  Saffron is also a potent medicinal spice with many benefits from supporting the reproductive organs to relaxing the nerves. A few threads is all that’s needed for this recipe. Paired with a little ghee and raw honey, it offsets the drying qualities it has on its own. Make this warming drink after dinner to satisfy a sweet tooth and help you wind down after a long day and prepare for deep sleep. Early to bed, early to rise with the sun…

An Ayurvedic ojas drink with dates, almonds, spices and ashwagandha

Fresh Almond Milk
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
4 cups filtered water
pinch Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Soak 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well, remove the skins from the almonds, then place the almonds in high-speed blender.  Add the water and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth and frothy.  Pour through a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or other fine mesh strainer to separate the pulp from the liquid.  Store the milk in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 2-4 days.

Makes one quart milk

2 cups fresh almond milk, oat milk or organic dairy milk of choice
1-2 pitted dates
2 tsp ghee
½ tsp ground cardamom
2-3 threads saffron (or a pinch of ground nutmeg)
Optional: ¼ tsp ashwagandha powder

In a small saucepan, lightly heat the milk until warm, not boiling. Transfer to a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Pulse until combined. Pour into a mug and sip slowly an hour or two before bed.

Note: If you do not have a blender, keep the milk in the pot and whisk in the ghee, herbs and spices. To sweeten, use one teaspoon of maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of the dates.

Makes two servings


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24 responses to “Remedies: Ayurvedic Sleep Tonic”

  1. […] A Deep Bow to Claire Ragozzino for sharing with the world-Recipe as originally  featured at: Vidyaliving […]

  2. Melissa says:

    This sounds wonderful, but I don’t like Saffron. Is there another spice you’d recommend? I’m a Vata, if that matters. Would whole organic milk be ok?

    • You can omit the saffron and still enjoy the recipe as is. You might also enjoy a tiny pinch of nutmeg to replace it, which has a more warming quality great for vata and supportive for sleep.

  3. […] 7. Soothing Saffron Sleep Tonic […]

  4. Susan says:

    This sounds so yummy and comforting! But I’m nursing my baby still – do you know if this would be safe while breastfeeding?

    • Great question! This drink, without the ashwagandha powder, is a simple spiced milk drink that is safe to enjoy while breastfeeding. But I should disclaim, it’s best to consult your health practitioner if you’re seeking to add any specific herbs or make changes to your diet.

  5. Jennifer Hayes says:

    It sounds lovely and might even work but on such a low budget this is such an expensive drink to make that I can’t even try it.

    • I hear ya! Luckily, there are many benefits from making a simple evening tonic with just a pinch of nutmeg in some warm milk/non-dairy milk. Nutmeg is a powerful sleep aid. Give this two ingredient nighttime recipe a try instead.

  6. Veena Grover says:

    I really enjoy reading your article and knowledge.God bless you.

  7. Naomi says:

    Is there an alternative to ghee

  8. Imamhusen says:

    Sleeping problem

  9. Dhanashri says:

    This is so soulful! My husband added a pinch of turmeric. Going to be my go-to bedtime drink now!

  10. Missy Bouwman says:

    I’m hypoglycemic and can’t have honey, could I use agave nectar instead or do you suggest a optional sweetner?

    • Great question! The honey is optional and can be omitted from this recipe. The date provides enough sweetness as is. You could try a drop of stevia to omit the extra sugar, or agave could work for you if you prefer this as your sweetener of choice. Coconut sugar is also lower glycemic.

  11. OLivia says:

    This truly sounds like a dream this said I am conflicted as I understood that honey heated can cause ama in the body. I wish to use this to aid in sleep in the warm summer months (I live in Bermuda)
    Would this still be okay? And should I use coconut oil instead of ghee and omit honey?

  12. Kris says:

    What a refreshing article. NATURAL.
    Iam just rounding 1st base, going Back to nature. SLOWLY. STEP by Step, baby ones.
    Lots of info and simple to start. Thank you.!! Do you have a Webdite. I can reach out too??

  13. VictorIa says:

    Can not wait to try, thank you for sharing.

  14. Celine says:

    Sounds great! Can i swap the ghee with coconut/sesame oil?

  15. Monita says:

    Thank to share this important information

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