The Importance of a Sleep Routine ( Rātri Vyavahāra (संध्याकाल व्यवहार)
In Ayurveda, sleep is regarded as a cornerstone of well-being, essential for maintaining balance and harmony in the body, mind, and spirit. Adequate, restful sleep is considered a vital aspect of daily life, influencing overall health and longevity. Ayurveda recognizes that during sleep, the body undergoes essential processes of repair, rejuvenation, and detoxification. Proper sleep supports the balance of doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—ensuring optimal physiological functioning. It is during sleep that the mind processes and consolidates experiences, emotions, and memories. Ayurveda emphasizes the quality, duration, and timing of sleep, aligning with the natural rhythms of day and night. A mindful approach to sleep is seen as integral to promoting vitality, mental clarity, emotional balance, and overall holistic well-being.
In Ayurveda, the sleep routine, known as "Rātri Vyavahāra," is considered crucial for maintaining overall well-being. The night holds a profound influence on the body's restoration and rejuvenation. Ayurveda emphasizes aligning with the natural rhythms of the day, including the specific practices during the evening to prepare for a restful night's sleep.
How to use this guide:
We recommend using this as a guide, an introduction - don't try and do this all in one day! Start small, choosing one or two things and remain consistent with these for a time before building on it. Ayurveda is a life-long love affair; it's best to approach it in a light-hearted, gentle and patient way. Your morning routine should feel grounding, nourishing, life-supporting - never like a burden. Start your journey with what resonates with you the most first.
1. Eat a light dinner: During the night, the digestive system naturally slows down, and burdening it with heavy or rich foods may disrupt sleep patterns. A light dinner supports the body's ability to process the meal efficiently, preventing discomfort and allowing for a more restful night's sleep. Ayurvedic wisdom underscores the importance of giving the digestive system ample time to complete its work before bedtime, contributing to overall health and vitality.
Opt for lighter, easily digestible foods in the evening. Choose options like steamed vegetables, soups, or grains. Avoid heavy, fried, or greasy foods, as well as large portions, close to bedtime. Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues, and aim to finish your evening meal at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep.
2. Reduce time on devices & wear blue-light blocking glasses: Electronic devices emit blue light, which can interfere with the body's natural circadian rhythms, suppressing melatonin production and affecting sleep. Ayurveda encourages minimizing exposure to stimulating activities close to bedtime, including screen use. Adopting blue light glasses is a proactive approach to mitigate potential disruptions to the body's internal clock, promoting a more tranquil and restful sleep environment.
Limit screen time at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. Invest in blue light-blocking glasses to filter out harmful blue light from screens. Consider using night mode settings on electronic devices, which reduce the amount of blue light emitted during evening hours.
3. Relaxation activities: Engaging in relaxation activities as you wind down before bed creates a soothing pre-sleep ritual. These practices signal to your body that it's time to wind down.
Some recommended practices for relaxing the mind and body to prepare for sleep are Pranayama, Yoga Nidhra, running yourself a warm bath with aromatherapy oils or epsom salts, gentle stretches, yoga asanas or reading a calming book.
4. Ayurvedic adaptogenic herbs: Elevate your sleep routine with Ayurvedic adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Brahmi and Gotu Kola. These potent herbs, deeply rooted in Ayurvedic tradition, contribute to restful sleep by calming the nervous system and reducing stress. Incorporating them into your bedtime ritual, whether in tea or warm milk, provides natural support for deep and rejuvenating sleep. Adaptogens like Ashwagandha specifically target the nervous system, promoting tranquility and helping you achieve a restorative night's sleep.
But don't just take any Ashwagandha! High single-herb doses of Ashwagandha can actually have a stimulating or heating effect on some people. It's recommended in Ayurveda to take herbs like Ashwagandha in an intelligently designed, carefully balanced formula like Bliss which is calming, cooling, and effective for everybody. Plus, the synergistic blend of 17 different herbs all work together to exponentially amplify each others effects, and ensure that Bliss can be taken during the day for energy, as well as adapt to your body's need for sleep at night.
How to take Bliss for deep sleep:
To learn more about Bliss, check out some in-depth information on the formula, benefits and ingredients here.
5. Going to bed before 10pm: Early bedtime, ideally before 10 pm, is a crucial component of Ayurvedic wisdom for fostering good-quality sleep. In fact, most of our body's vital processes and repair are done between 10pm and 2am, the most critical time to be getting deep sleep. According to Ayurveda, aligning with the natural rhythms of the day and going to bed early supports overall health and well-being. This practice syncs with the period of Kapha dominance, characterized by heaviness and stability, creating an environment conducive to restful sleep. Ayurveda emphasizes the significance of a consistent sleep schedule to maintain harmony with the body's internal clock, promoting optimal rest, and enhancing the body's rejuvenation process.
6. Self-Foot-Massage ( Padabhyanga): Ayurveda recognizes the feet as a vital area where numerous energy channels converge, and massaging them with warm oil provides grounding and relaxation. Overnight, the feet accumulate stress and tension, and the application of oil helps release these stored energies. This Ayurvedic ritual, known as "Padabhyanga," not only nourishes the skin but also calms the nervous system, preparing the body for restful sleep.
How to perform Padabhyanga:
Warm a suitable oil (like sesame or coconut) and gently massage the soles of the feet using circular motions, paying attention to the toes and heels.
7. Sleep Hygiene: In Ayurveda, curating an optimal sleep environment is crucial for nurturing restful sleep. The emphasis is on creating a cool, dark, and clutter-free bedroom to support the body's natural healing processes during the night. Ayurveda recommends choosing comfortable and natural bedding materials, fostering a harmonious connection with the earth's energy. The arrangement of the bed aligns with the principle of allowing sufficient space for energy flow around it. Additionally, ensuring proper ventilation and maintaining an organised sleep space contribute to a serene atmosphere. Prioritize a cool, dark, and well-ventilated bedroom, opt for natural bedding materials, and keep the sleep environment clutter-free for optimal sleep quality.
For more information on the topic of sleep, check out our masterclass video series on sleep by our co-founder, Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health educator Dylan Smith.