To minimize sleepless, restless and straight-up frustrating nights…
All of those Ayurveda practices I’ve been reading up on (medicine? instruction?… I still have a lot to learn obviously) are slowly beginning to make their way into my routine. Because what I allow into my body and mind — and the emotions that I release from them — should be more intentional. The stress we endure on a daily basis allows us to easily succumb to bodily, spiritual and emotional ruts. As I sit at my kitchen table, listening to the “Pieces of April” soundtrack, and grudgingly yet devotedly drinking my moderately warm coffee, I try to string together words while repeatedly clobbered by one thought: you can live better! (No offense, “Pieces of April” and, hey coffee, I will kick you… eventually.)
Ayurveda has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. Ignorantly, without knowledge or experience, I deemed the practice complicated and something far beyond my reach. But, friends, I am so wrong. Quite simply, Ayurveda means “the knowledge of life.” (Ayur, meaning life, and veda, meaning knowledge.) As nationally recognized yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Katie Silcox writes in her book, “Healthy Happy Sexy,” Ayurveda is “…how to live life in the best possible way. It is a back-to-basics, natural approach to living — a complex mix of oral and written instruction, philosophy, mythology, spirituality and scientific knowledge.” YES. Ok, I’m in. Back to basics sounds exactly like the something I have been looking for.
There are many, many things to learn about Ayurveda and, as I slowly make my way through, I am trying to strategically implement different practices. Today I want to share a night routine that has minimized my sleepless, restless and straight-up frustrating nights. When I am sleep-deprived, I become unfocused, scattered, agitated and endlessly hungry. I am a nightmare. “Your mind and body use sleep as the washing machine for the subconscious mind. If we aren’t slipping into deep dreams every night, much of our toxic, unprocessed emotions and experiences aren’t drained away. Ayurveda offers an ideal way to transition from the activity of the day into the sacred chamber of sleep,” writes Katie. When I started to infuse the following steps into my night routine, I began to feel a difference in the amount and quality of my sleep. Check them out and, even if it’s just for one night this week, implement them into your own routine.
Turn your lights down low. An hour or two before bedtime, turn off all overhead lights. Low or dim lighting prepares your body for rest, so switch to low-level lighting or use candles.
Draw a bath. Relax in a scented bath using oils like lavender, chamomile or pure rose.
Power down screens. Katie writes, “experts state that, when we are exposed to artificial lighting (such as from computer and smartphone screens), the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin is suppressed, making us feel more alert and changing our circadian rhythms.” So shut down your screens before you get in bed. Sorry, social media babes.
Give your brain a rest. Avoid too much “mental movement” before you sleep. Plan your heavy conversations, to-do lists, work ideas and news-watching for earlier in the day.
“Unravel the day.” This practice is powerful, and possesses the ability to even boost memory. “Once in bed and lying down, mentally move backward through your day in increments of 30 minutes. Try to simply register what was happening to you during the day without judgement. 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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Photos by Tina Deleon.