For many years I really struggled with creating a consistent daily routine that prioritized sleep. There was a long period of time that at least one day during the 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.
Back then, I believed that as long as I let myself sleep as many hours as needed when I finally did go to sleep – then all was fine. I got into a bad habit of having no sleep schedule and didn’t realize how much this was impacting me physically, emotionally or mentally.
It wasn’t until I started learning about Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic health systems, that I became aware of how much my erratic sleep schedule was impacting my energy, hormones and clarity of mind.
Ayurveda & the importance of a daily routine
Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic health systems, 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.
7 Nighttime Rituals For Abundant, Restful Sleep
Here are seven practices I prioritize each night as part of my night-time routine to support a deeply restorative and restful night of sleep. I hope these help you as well!
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 the most energized and have more clarity of mind the next day.
2. Shut down electronic devices (and turn off WIFI) 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. At night, I wear Blue Light Blocker glasses, turn off most lamps and use candles instead. Then, just before going to sleep, I turn off the phone altogether, as well as turn off Wi-Fi.
3. Calm the mind with essential oil aromatherapy. Listen to binaural beats.
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 a number of essential oil diffusers, I invested in Aromaom by Saje – I love the design.
To calm the nervous system even more, I listen to binaural beats in the evening. You can find playlists for this on Spotify or YouTube, simply search for “binaural beats”.
4. Drink warm oat milk or almond milk with nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric or ashwaghanda
Just like preparing ginger tea in the morning, it’s become one of my evening rituals to enjoy warm almond milk or warm oat mylk with a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon. 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 routine as well.
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. Before going to sleep, I think about three things I’m grateful for.
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 usually wake up naturally just before sunrise.
Bonus: Keep Your Room Dark
In addition to these seven nighttime practices to support sleep, it’s also helpful to make sure the 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.
A consistent sleep routine that aligns with the cycles of the day and incorporates the seven night-time practices above has really made a difference in how I feel in the morning and throughout the day.
I’m no longer moving sluggishly through the day. I have greater clarity of mind and I feel energized from the get-go when I wake up in the morning. I never realized how much my poor sleep habit was affecting me physically and mentally.
To think that these simple practices – and most importantly, the timing that you go to sleep – can make such a difference to your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, is amazing.
If you don’t yet have a night-time routine, I hope these practices above provide you with inspiration. Try them out and create your own night-time routine to support quality, deeply restorative sleep.
Sweet dreams xx