Even as life returns to some form of the normalcy we knew before the pandemic, the day-to-day can still be stressful. Your ability to remain calm and focused is limited when your body and mind are constantly fatigued from overwork or overstimulation. Despite this exhaustion, though, when you’re ready to hit the sheets, you may find yourself lying awake for hours because your mind just can’t slow down.
Ayurveda offers many rituals that align with balancing your energy type, or dosha, to improve sleep. In Ayurveda, the five natural elements—fire, water, earth, air, and ether (space)—are broken down and integrated into the three doshas. (To discover your dominant dosha, take the quiz.) Central to Ayurveda is the mind-body connection—in this case, calming the mind for sleep will influence how your body reacts when it is time for bed.
An Ayurvedic evening routine can prepare you for the sleep needed to heal your body, calm your mind, and even help you embody your dharma (soul’s purpose). That’s because when you’re rested, you’re able to think and feel more clearly, allowing you to be a channel for your highest Self—to go through your day with confidence and passion. By incorporating these simple, intentional practices into your nightly routine, you will begin to fall asleep more quickly and rest deeply.
Dosha imbalance—exacerbated by factors like blue light, late-night Netflix binges, and stress—can hamper your sleep. The following strategies will help ease your mind and body into a restful night’s slumber, regardless of your dominant dosha.
1. Detox from your devices early in the evening
Exposure to blue light at night suppresses melatonin and disrupts your circadian rhythm (which regulates the sleep-wake cycle). Not to mention, engaging with highly stimulating content on social media triggers your desire to perform and create, all of which prevents your mind and body from falling asleep. If you feel wired before bed and take hours to settle down from having too many tabs open (both literally and mentally), put down your devices at least a half hour—but preferably an hour or two—before climbing between the sheets.
See also: A Meditation to Prepare for Sleep
2. Surround yourself with soothing scents and light
In Ayurveda, breathing in certain essential oils helps soothe the body and mind. Light some soy, beeswax, or coconut candles, or turn on an essential-oil diffuser to create a relaxing atmosphere. Aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and help eliminate stress and balance your adrenals, which produce hormones that affect many parts of the body. The aroma molecules attach to olfactory receptors in your nose, sending signals to the memory and emotion centers of your brain. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, rose, frankincense, and neroli can induce calming memories and bodily relaxation.
3. Exfoliate your skin with a natural dry brush
Scraping dead cells off the top layer of your skin exfoliates and improves circulation. Done at night, this relaxing ritual brings you into your body and out of your mind. Using a natural, firm-bristle brush, stroke upward from your arms to your heart in long, slow motions. Be sure not to press too hard. Then move to your chest and stomach. Next, move toward your back and focus on any areas that may have raised, rough spots. End with your feet, stroking upward, for about five minutes total.
See also: 5 Ayurvedic Practices for Better Sleep
4. Perform a self-oil massage, or abhyanga
The Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga rehydrates your skin and releases the feel-good nerotransmitter serotonin. Choose an oil based on your dominant dosha (heavier sesame or almond oil for vata; cooling oils like coconut oil or sunflower for pitta; warming oils such as sesame and olive oils for kapha). Heat the oil, either by putting it in a bottle and submerging it in hot water or simply rubbing it between your palms. Then, massage your body with slow and deliberate strokes. Focus longer on any areas with more tension. Be sure to oil your feet, which contain pressure points that will help you relax when massaged.
See also: How to Discharge Tension to Sleep Better