Nourish You: 11 Steps to A Healing Night’s Sleep this Fall
September 18, 2015
We have all been there.
We wake up half rested, groggy and even a bit disoriented. We were not out at all night at a raging party; we just didn’t get a great night’s sleep, the fall out of continuously not getting enough sleep leaves us more than just feeling a little groggy in the morning. Lack of sleep can have a detrimental domino effect on your overall mental and physical well-being.
According to Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, sleep is when we heal, detox and metabolize all of the previous day’s events. The physicians who developed the healing system of Ayurveda thousands of years ago had wisdom about sleep that is now being confirmed by modern medical research: Restful sleep is one of the foundations for good health.
New research is telling us that not sleeping or “short sleeping” is much more dangerous to our health than just feeling tired. In the short term, you may find that you make mistakes at home or work and it takes longer to complete tasks. You may experience decreased alertness and experience more stress in relationships. It is even said that work and automobile injuries are more common in people who don’t sleep well.
According to Valencia Porter, M.D., M.P.H., FACN, not sleeping well not only affects our quality of life but may also increase mortality.
“Lack of sleep is associated with a number of serious medical issues including high blood pressure, obesity, heart attack, stroke, and mood disorders,” she explains.
Experts like Jeffery S. Drummer, MD, PhD, AKA Dr. Sleep, liken that when your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, it goes into fight-or-flight defense mode. Adrenaline raises your heart rate and blood pressure, you sweat, and basically, every cell in the body reacts to the increase in stress hormones. That said, ongoing sleep disturbances affect your health because they act as seeds for dis-ease or disease in the body. This constant fight or flight state has been associated with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, digestive problems, and in the long term, immune problems and chronic diseases such as cancer.
Sadly, sleep disturbance is one of the leading predictors of institutionalization in the elderly.
After a day of stimulating activity, your body needs deep sleep so your mind and body can rest and reset. To receive this deep sleep, aim for six to eight hours of nightly sound slumber without the need for any medication. Hours of sleep before midnight are generally the most rejuvenating. Therefore, if you are sleeping eight hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., you will feel more rested than sleeping eight hours between midnight and 8 a.m.
To promote deep sleep, try the Chopra Center’s evening routine:
Eat a relatively light dinner. This should be no later than 7 p.m. so you do not go to bed on a full stomach, then take a leisurely stroll after dinner. To the extent possible, minimize exciting, aggravating or mentally intensive activities after 8:30 p.m. This includes television and work activity, if what you are watching or doing makes you feel stimulated, irritated or tense.
11 Steps to A Healing Night’s Sleep this Fall
1. Aim to be in your bed with the lights out between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
If you are not used to getting to bed this early, move your bedtime up by half an hour every week until you are in bed by 10:30 p.m. For example, if you usually watch television until midnight, try shutting it off by 11:30 p.m for a week. Then aim for 11 p.m. for another week, and finally, 10:30 p.m.
2. About an hour before bedtime, run a hot bath.
Place a few drops of a calming aromatherapy essential oil such as lavender, sandalwood or vanilla. You can also diffuse this scent in your bedroom. We carry a variety of calming and soothing scents in salts, oils and candles to help you wind down.
3. As your bath is running, perform a slow self-administered oil massage using sesame or almond oil.
Self-massage oil from the Yoga-360 have blends of nourishing oils for the skin and essential oils calming to the mind and is recommended.
4. After your massage, soak in the warm tub for ten to 15 minutes.
5. While soaking, have the lights low or burn a candle, and listen to calming, soothing music.
6. After your bath, drink something warm.
It can be a cup of warm milk with nutmeg and honey, or some chamomile or relaxing tea. If you desire, have a small cookie.
7. If your mind is very active, journal for a few minutes before bed.
This downloads some of your thoughts and concerns so you don’t need to ruminate about them when you shut your eyes.
8. Read inspirational or spiritual literature for a few minutes before bed.
Avoid dramatic or distressing material.
9. Do not watch television or work in bed.
10. Once in bed, close your eyes and simply “feel your body” this means bring your attention into your body and wherever you notice tension, consciously relax that area.
11. Then, simply watch your slow easy breathing until you fall asleep.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, try putting something warm on your belly in the area of your solar plexus. Use a warm water bottle or heating pad to soothe your body and calm your mind available in the boutique.
Yoga classes like Yoga Nidra are designed to assist sleep.
Try sleeping on your stomach with your feet hanging over the edge of the bed. On a cold night, wear socks so your toes stay warm.
If you wake up during the night and have trouble going back to sleep, try getting out of bed and walking around for a few minutes or reclining in a soft, comfortable chair with a blanket.
If all else fails and you continue to have disrupted sleep, try staying up all night and avoid napping the following day. By 9 p.m. the next evening, your mind and body will be ready to sleep. This can often reset your biological rhythms. It is helpful to remember that if you are lying still in bed, silently repeating the sleeping mantra, your metabolic activity is nearly as low as if you were in deep sleep. Even if your mind is still somewhat active, your body is getting the deep rest it needs.