Perhaps you’ve started to integrate some Ayurvedic self-care practices into your daily routine from Part 1 and you’re ready to add some more. Today I will share some more practices that you can build into your evening routine for sleep hygiene and better health.
Do you find that you have a long hectic day at work and by the time you get the kids to bed all you want to do is enjoy a glass of wine and turn on Netflix? I hear ya. Even though alcohol and numbing our minds to the screen gives us immediate gratification, the effects it has on our sleep quality might not be worth it long term. Our bodies are designed to process toxins and restore our system over the course of the night so we can wake feeling rested and energized. Unfortunately for many of us, we have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, and wake up feeling tired and foggy. Luckily there are a few things that we can start to incorporate into our evening routine.
Ayurvedic science says that our mid-day lunch should be the largest meal of the day followed by a light walk to aid digestion. Many cultures today already do this. In the evenings, a light supper is recommended and an evening walk will help to ensure that our food is fully digested before we go to bed. This is important because we don’t want our body to have to use up all its energy to digest our food while we sleep. This takes away from the restorative functions we need for good health. So maybe start with a light, healthy dinner and a short walk. A pre-bed routine will help with ease-ful sleep. It is recommended to turn off screens at least one hour before bed to help the nervous system prepare for sleep.
If you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, consider these ideas to help you sleep more restoratively, deeply and easily.
- Set a consistent bedtime. If you have an irregular morning schedule, go to bed 8 hours before you have to get up. Some people need more or less sleep time. Keep track of how many hours you sleep and if it feels it’s not enough, or too much adjust accordingly.
- Have a bed time routine. This may include other items from this list. It might include reading a book, gentle yoga, chatting with family member, washing your face, brushing your teeth or a self oil massage before you go to bed.
- Bedroom is only for sleep and sex (that means no TV or work). That way your body/brain can fall asleep easier.
- Minimize screen time before bed. Whether it is your tv, phone or other device, it provides more stimuli and can set your nervous system on high alert. It will take a longer time for your nervous system to begin to settle into the rest/digest system.
- Keep your bedroom dark for sleep (invest in an eye-mask and earplugs if you need to)
- Avoid alcohol and heavy food. As I mentioned earlier, your body has to put a lot of effort into digestion, which it shouldn’t have to do while you sleep.
- Enjoy a cup of warm spiced milk (nut milk is okay too!). This can aid in digestion and set the nervous system at ease.
- Indulge in a self foot massage with warm oil. This can help to ground and settle out any erratic energies.
A few yoga postures that I help me prepare for sleep include child’s pose, cat/cow, and legs up the wall. If I’m having a particularly hard time falling asleep I’ll listen to a Yoga Nidra recording. Usually the hardest one to implement is the one we need to do the most. Let me know what works for you and if I can support you in any way.
In Part 3 I will share a Digestive Reset Program that I will be participating in this Fall so stay tuned!