Cool story. Two Christmases ago, I was a brand new Ayurvedic student and reading my studies on the plane ride to Milwaukee. My friendly neighbor inquired and I told him all about Ayurveda. He was really intrigued and I wish I’d known more at the time because I would have been able to help him with some of his problems. But! To my great surprise, he found me on LinkedIn the other day and asked if I remembered him. How cool! He also mentioned that he’s having trouble sleeping. Not so cool. But at least I can help him now!
And hey, anyone else have sleeping problemos? There can be a number of reasons for insomnia in Ayurveda but mainly there are two types:
a) Not being able to fall asleep. A pitta problem largely because of stress and too much thinking/strategy
b) Waking up in the middle of the night. A vata problem largely because of anxiety and racing mind
I have some ideas to help keep your sleep on track!
LIFESTYLE TIPS | Overall management
• Check the clock. If we go to bed after 10:30/11, the energy of pitta can keep us awake. Pitta’s job is to transform (thoughts, emotions, food) information from the day. If we stay awake into pitta time, we often get a “second wind” and feel like cleaning the garage. This means that we’ve stayed up too long. Thoughts, emotions, and ideas from the day flood our minds and it’s tough to make it stop. Pitta will do its job whether we are awake or sleeping, so best to zonk out before then.
• Stick to the daily routine. Definitely review the daily routine and times of the doshas. Your day ends with sleep so if everything else is in line, your sleep will fall in line as well.
• Don’t eat too much too late. Not good for many reasons, but heart burn or indigestion is uncomfortable and can keep us awake.
• Practice daily pranayama. Do So Hum or Nadi Shodhanam daily! You don’t have to do this for crazy amounts of time. Start with 5 min. It’s so easy and SO effective! Great for calming the nerves (vata) and the mind (pitta).
• No caffeine after Noon. Limiting caffeine in general is best, but if you have coffee, keep it to the morning hours only.
• Exercise regularly. A 30 minute (minimum) walk daily is perfect for exercise. Or yoga! Or any activity that makes you sweat a little and gives you energy afterwards.
IN A PINCH | If you find yourself tossing and turning
• Drink a small amount of warm milk. Bonus to add a sprinkle of cardamom. Warm milk will soothe pitta and vata. Good for heart burn too!
• Massage your adhipati marma. Ugh, Adhi-what? The adhipati marma is an energy point (marma) on the top of our head – it’s the soft spot on babies. Find it by placing four fingers across the forehead. Take your other hand and stack another four fingers on top of those. The point is “8 fingers” away from the eyebrows, on top of the head. Massage clockwise with the middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Massage your kirkatika marma. Easier this time. It’s the point where your neck meets your spine at the back of the head. There is like a hole there – sort of an indentation. Massage clockwise with middle finger 1-5 minutes.
• Lay on your right side and so hum. On the inhale, “soooooo,” and exhale, “hummmmm.” Say this to yourself.
Happy Sleepings my friends. Enjoy your new ZZZZZZZZs.