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Ayurvedic doctor and spa owner Pratima Raichur shares an evening routine that will set you up for a peaceful night’s rest.
There’s always a reason behind why we can’t sleep, says Pratima Raichur, an Ayurvedic doctor and owner of Pratima Spa in New York City. And that reason is almost always stress. In Ayurvedic terms, when we have excess Vata and our minds are hyperactive with too many thoughts, it’s impossible to relax. So, the obvious solution to this problem is to relieve the stress, but we all know that’s easier said than done!
Dr. Raichur recommends planning to go to sleep every night around the same time—preferably before 10 pm—and sticking with a serene bedtime routine. Empty your mind, let go of the thoughts you’ve been holding onto all day, say some prayers, and be grateful. Try the following rituals to unwind with ease.
Take a Warm Bath With Rose and Jasmine
Take a warm bath with jasmine and rose essential oils ($26). Dr. Raichur suggests these two oils in particular for their calming properties. In Ayuveda, rose and jasmine are said to reduce stress, open the heart, and purify negative emotions. “The purpose of all nighttime rituals is to prepare your mind to go into a different state, a state of relaxation,” she says.
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Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing
Sit on your bed. Close your eyes. Close your right nostril and inhale through your left. Then, close your left nostril and exhale through your right. Inhale through your right nostril, close your right, and then exhale through your left. Continue this technique for 10 minutes. “Anyone who has a sleeping problem should do alternate nostril breathing,” Dr. Raichur says. “It will reduce the Vata. It also helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain.”
Brahmari breathing is another relaxing alternative. Simply inhale and, when you exhale, slowly say “ohm.” Continue this way for 5 minutes.
Drink Warm Milk With a Touch of Nutmeg
In Ayurveda, cold milk is shunned, but warm milk is considered healing and soothing. Milk contains L-tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, which both induce sleep. Nutmeg gives the comforting drink a sweet taste and acts as another natural sleep aid. “The combination of warm milk and nutmeg will totally relax you and put you right to sleep,” Dr. Raichur says.
Massage Your Temples and Naval With Ghee
In Ayurveda, ghee is considered one of the best substances for self-massage. “It’s cooling and calming to the system,” Dr. Raichur says. “It gives you hydration and oleation [Ayurvedic oil saturation therapy].” Massaging the temples and naval with ghee helps to balance the Vata by countering it’s dry properties and alleviates Pitta because it’s cool and sweet.
Massage Your Scalp and Feet
Massaging the feet is another perfect ritual to do right before bed, Dr. Raichur says. There are over 7,000 nerve endings on each foot, so giving both a massage helps loosen the entire body. Massaging the scalp, where the nerves start, has a comparable effect.
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Smell Your Favorite Essential Oils
Put a few drops of oil on your pillowcase or on your wrist where you feel your pulse. In Ayurveda, breathing in essential oils is believed to help soothe the body and mind, open the heart, and encourage sleep. Dr. Raichur recommends her anti-stress aroma oil ($20), which combines orange, cardamom, jasmine, basil, and vanilla. She also suggests Brahmi oil to cool your body and calm your nerves.