For many years I really struggled with creating a consistent daily routine that prioritized my health and well-being. As someone who works from home and creates my own work hours, there was a long period of time that at least once or twice a week I would work over twenty four hours straight without sleeping, then collapse from exhaustion and wake up twelve hours later and start all over again.
I knew this was unhealthy which is why I always let myself sleep as many hours as needed when I finally went to sleep. However, I was so addicted to getting (seemingly) productive work done during the quiet hours of the night that I couldn’t seem to break this habit. On top of this, I’d always get a second wind and boost of energy during the night which made going to sleep, even if I wanted to, a challenge.
Fast forward to today – I’ve finally overhauled my sleep routine and have established a daily routine that prioritizes going to sleep early and practicing yoga first thing in the morning.
Thanks to a healthier sleep routine, I’m no longer sluggishly moving through the day. Instead, I feel a much greater sense of clarity of mind and feel energized the moment I wake up. I know for many of you this connection between timely sleep and mental clarity may be so obvious, but for me it’s an eyeopener. I never realized how much my poor sleep habit was affecting me physically and mentally. This change feels amazing!
Ayurveda & the importance of a daily routine
Not surprisingly, Ayurveda, the ancient science of conscious living, has a lot to say about the importance of quality sleep and creating a daily routine. In Ayurveda, the Sanskrit word,
dinacharya, refers specifically to the idea of a daily routine.
Ayurveda teaches that when we align with nature’s cycles and rhythms, nourish our body and mind, and cultivate an inner sense of calm, we foster health on all levels.
This makes a lot of sense: after all, plants and animals align with nature to create health and balance. As participants in this experience called life, so must we humans as well.
Why does staying in sync with nature’s rhythms make the body healthy?
Central to Ayurveda is the understanding that five elements are found in all living things –
air, space, fire, water, earth – and are the building blocks of life.
These elements combine to form what are referred to as the three doshas (or energies): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of us has a different combination of the three doshas which like a thumbprint is unique to each individual.
The three doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha
- The Vata dosha is a combination of air and space. Vata’s qualities are light, dry, cold, and full of motion.
- The Pitta dosha is comprised of fire and water. Pitta’s qualities are hot, sharp, dry, light and intense.
- The Kapha dosha is comprised of earth and water. Kapha’s qualities are heavy, slow, dull, stable, soft and static.
In addition to existing within our bodies, the doshas also exert their influence on us in four hour increments throughout the 24-hour day. Each four hour time period is dominated by one dosha, and thus influenced by the qualities of that dosha.
- Vata: 2am – 6am // 2pm – 6pm
- Pitta: 10pm – 2am // 10am – 2pm
- Kapha: 6am – 10am // 6pm – 10pm
Because the timing of these doshas affects the way we feel, it’s a good idea to choose activities that align with the time of day. When it comes to sleeping, creating a night-time “wind-down” ritual has been key for me.
Below are seven Ayurvedic rituals I’m committed to practicing to support a restful night of sleep. I hope these help you as well!
7 Essential Ayurvedic Rituals For Abundant, Restful Sleep
1. Go to sleep by 10pm
Sleep is the time when your body is able to repair and heal itself. Kapha time, which takes place from 6pm to 10pm, is a slow time. It’s the time to wind down and settle in for the night. When I go to sleep by 10pm, I feel my best the next day.
2. Shut down electronic devices an hour before going to sleep
Countless studies report that the light from electronic devices increases cortisol in our brain which makes us stay awake. Turning off phones, laptops and other devices is a good idea. On my iPhone, I’ve also set the “Night Shift” brightness to automatically dim the phone between certain night-time hours.
3. Calm the mind with essential oil aromatherapy
Diffusing lavender essential oil is one of my favorite night-time rituals. It’s such a simple luxury and gift of self-care. An essential oil diffuser adds moisture to the air and the essential oil evokes a sense of calm. After researching almost everything about essential oil diffusers, I invested in Aromaom by Saje – love the design!
4. Drink warm almond milk with nutmeg, cardamom, turmeric or ashwaghanda
Just like preparing ginger tea in the morning, there’s something comforting about the ritual of making time to warm almond milk on the stovetop and add a dash of nutmeg. This warm drink cues my mind that it’s time to wind down and relax.
5. Abhyanga Foot Massage
Applying warm coconut oil or sesame oil soothes and calms the nervous system. Whenever I have an extra ten minutes, I try to incorporate this practice into my night-time wind-down ritual.
6. Gratitude & Meditation
Listening to a short guided meditation or ambient instrumental music on Spotify or YouTube helps to quiet my mind and calm the nervous system. Thinking about at least three things I’m grateful for helps me to focus on the good in my life as I go to sleep.
7. Wake up at (or before) sunrise
Ayurveda recommends waking up at or before sunrise to sync with the rhythm of the sun. Sunrise takes place at the end of the Vata time period, a time of mobility and receptivity, and a good time for meditation, prayer and other spiritual practice. As long as I go to sleep by 10pm, I can usually wake up naturally just before sunrise.
In addition to these seven Ayurvedic rituals, for abundant restful sleep also be sure that your bedroom is dim or dark. If you’re not able to dim the light for whatever reason, consider investing in a lavender eye pillow to block out the light.