in depth


You Snooze, You Win

Ayurvedic Sleep Tips

With so many technological distractions and a culture of over-stimulation, sometimes our nervous systems just can't calm down. Ayurveda offers several tried and true practices that can finally give you that restful sleep you've been looking for.

1. Refrain from eating or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Your body generates energy in order to digest food and your liver also works harder to process alcohol. Asking the body to up its workload close to bedtime is asking for an interrupted sleep. The body needs to rest so let it.

2. Drink warm milk with nutmeg. According to Ayurveda, warm milk is healing nectar. Milk naturally contains L-tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, which induce sleep.  A pinch of nutmeg adds a natural sleep aid. For more severe cases, try ashwagandha or valerian.

3. Rub the scalp and soles of the feet with warm brahmi oil. Brahmi oil is made from sesame oil and gotu kola, a nervine which is calming. It relaxes the mind through the scalp and balances the meridian points on the soles of the feet. Warm some up before bedtime. Massage in, cover your pillow with a towel, and enjoy the serenity that brahmi induces.

4. Avoid stimulants. Vata is the ayurvedic wind principle and insomnia indicates your vata is irregular. Vata also rules the nervous system, so an excess can amp you up. The dietary treatment is to abstain from foods like white sugar and caffeine. Instead, eat grounding foods, like root vegetables, whole grains and beneficial oils such as ghee.

5. Sit with your breath. After a hectic day, sit quietly for 10 minutes before lying down. Simply be still and allow the thoughts to rise in your mind without grasping at them. Without doing anything else, maintain awareness of your breath as your mind airs out the day's laundry. Staying with your breath for a while actually regulates and deepens breathing and calms the entire nervous system. By emptying your mind in this way, you are less likely to be awakened by your thoughts and more likely to sleep through the night in peace

Dr. Sharada Hall
Doctor of Oriental Medicine
I highly recommend The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. Vasant Lad


Shirley Beattie commented on 12-Apr-2010 08:11 AM5 out of 5 stars

Will give it a try. Thanks

Return to Article

Navigate Your Day with Grit & Grace

Get a Free Yogi Lifestyle e-Mint, Plus a Twice-Monthly Musing Delivered to Your Inbox