Have a cup of tea, breathe deep and fall asleep

What better way to celebrate relaxation week (which I’m not actually participating in) than sleeping?

Psh. None.

(A good question is: “Where in the world did you read about this?” The answer: “I have no idea.” I found this bit of information buried in a stack of handwritten notes from forever ago. I’m not sure if this is weird… but I used to be SO into Ayurveda. I would be, but I’m not at all patient enough to practice. If you know where the following information goes, let me know, and I’ll post it. Right now, it’s just some good information about sleeping.)

Husband works eight-hour night shifts, five days a week. It’s like the “nine-to-five” only flipped upside down. Because he works nights, he sleeps during the day –obviously. We live in a purely residential neighborhood with schools and people and parks all around us, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Husband doesn’t sleep very well.

Ayurveda has sleep remedies for people like my husband –reverse insomniacs –and for poor sleepers and regular insomniacs. Each of these remedies is connected to a dosha within the principle.

If you wake up at 2 a.m. and have trouble getting back to sleep, vata is to blame for your sleep imbalance. Before going to bed, rub your head and feet with sesame oil or take a bath infused with fennel, orange and tulsi oils. You can also drink tea made from brahmi –an Ayurvedic herbal tea known as a nerve tonic. Or try hot almond milk, which is actually pretty tasty by the way, with any or all of these: chopped dates, coconut flakes, cardamom, ginger or honey.

Also, try a cooling Chandra Bhenda (Moon Breath) for five minutes. Breathe in through the left nostril and out through the right, closing the opposite nostril between each inhale and exhale. Follow this with 30 seconds of Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) by taking full, deep, loud breaths in and out through the nose, using your full lung capacity.

If you awake again, get up and drink chamomile tea –an almost universal remedy.

Pitta, the second dosha, insomnia is based on you having trouble getting to sleep or you wake up before 2 a.m. and cannot sleep again. Before bed, have a cup of brahmi tea or drink warm almond milk again. Put a few drops of sandalwood, marjoram or benzoin resin oil into your bath. You can also massage warm ghee –clarified butter –onto your head and feet. Then, do five minutes of Ujjayi Breath (close the root of the throat and breathe audibly through the nose). Follow with two minutes of meditation.

Kapha-based insomnia is rare. Make yourself a cup of tea: Mix a teaspoon of brahmi with honey and drink. Give yourself a head and foot massage with olive oil, olive and mustard oil or sesame oil, or mustard oil alone. Try putting a blend of marjoram, frankincense, rose and ylang-ylang essential oils into a hot bath. Practice two full minutes of Bellows Breath followed by one minute of meditation.

While I haven’t really tried any of these methods –mostly because I hate taking baths, refuse to spend money on essential oils and have no idea where to find brahmi tea in my area –I know deep breathing and meditation can calm the mind and induce a state of serenity (like Corpse Pose at the end of your yoga practice) and that warm almond milk tastes good, but I wasn’t trying to go to sleep when I drank that.

If you believe that any of these Ayurvedic sleep aids will heal your horrible sleep habits, give them a try. Nothing is poisonous (to my knowledge).

Sleep well friends!