Ayurveda states that sleep, alongside proper diet, loving relationships, and the wise use of energy, is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. Here are some practical Ayurveda-inspired health principles that will help you snooze better, boosting your immunity and enabling you to be a more empowered participant in your life:
--When the sun goes down, you start winding down. This doesn’t mean you need to be in bed at 8 p.m., but it does mean that you should become aware that Mother Nature wants you to get cozy. Turn off your overhead lights and engage in activities that are relaxing, instead of stimulating. Avoid answering emails, watching violent programs or news media, or involving yourself in stressful conversations or phone calls.
--Eat lightly. When the sun is high in the sky (midday), your inner digestive “sun” is also high. As the sun sets, your ability to digest large quantities of food is also diminished. Try to eat a little heavier at midday and let your nighttime meals consist of easily digestible foods like soups, stews, grains, and cooked vegetables.
--Turn off screens (computers, cellphones, TVs) by 9 p.m. Screens and artificial lighting can disturb the circadian rhythms that produce sleep hormones.
--Be in bed in the window of 9:30-11 p.m.. I know this one may challenging for some of you, but we get the best sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sleeping during this natural window will help your body repair, both physically and mentally, more than sleeping from midnight to 8 a.m.
--Oil up. Rub some pure sesame oil in your ears and nose and on the crown of your head and the soles of your feet before bed. Ayurveda says that sesame oil is both warming and grounding, allowing the nervous system to feel these same qualities.
Katie Silcox is the author of the upcoming book, "Healthy, Happy, Sexy - Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women." She's a vinyasa yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, contributor to Yoga Journal, and a senior teacher within the Sri-Vidya ParaYoga lineage under Yogarupa Rod Stryker.