September 1, 2012

Be The Change Challenge: 30 Day Mind, Body, & Soul Challenge

Day #1 of the Be The Change Challenge

Better Sleep
Last night I went to bed at 2:22am. This is nothing new for me. In fact, for about 3 years now, this has been quite normal for me. When I woke up this morning, I found an interesting article in my email inbox. Apparently, "good quality sleep is essential for health and happiness. Not enough sleep will lead to cravings, crankiness, premature aging, depleted adrenal glands, poor focus, and many other unpleasant things." Ha!
So, why can't I sleep?

Well, according to Ayurveda, insomnia and restless sleep are symptoms of aggravated Vata Dosha. Vata is responsible for movement, activity, and thinking process. It is light, fast, and airy by its nature. When Vata Dosha is balanced, we feel creative, light, inspired, and energized. When Vata is aggravated we feel frazzled, fatigued, unable to stop a constant flow of thoughts, anxious, and turn into insomniacs with a hyperactive mind.

Here are a few things that might be aggravating my nervous system and causing insomnia:   
  • Eating a late dinner (less than 3 hours before sleep) 
  • Having caffeine less than 5 hours before sleep  
  • Watching TV or staring at the computer screen before bed. Bright lights activate your nervous system and can cause insomnia. It is better to read a good book or engage in a friendly conversation with your family. It will be less aggravating to the brain and nervous system allowing you to fall asleep better. 
  • Eating a heavy, spicy, or fatty meal for dinner. Digestion takes up a lot of energy. While digesting, your body is active and you may be forced to stay awake along with your working belly. Even if you manage to fall asleep with a full stomach, the quality of sleep won’t be good, since your body is still processing the food. 
  • Not living in tune with nature. At one point our ancestors didn’t have a choice but to live by nature’s rhythms – asleep with sundown and up with sunrise. With social life and tv shows being on everyone’s to do list in the evening, we got disconnected from the original harmonious existence with nature. Going against the law of nature has its price. According to Ayurveda, most people should go to bed before 10pm to get the most restful sleep.
Ayurveda Sleep-Inducing Tips:

Ayurvedic healing remedies aim to restore greater balance to the specific Doshas that are out of balance. If you're anything like me and have trouble sleeping or falling asleep, here are a few things you can do to help your body and nervous system to prepare for a good night of restful sleep: 

-One of the simplest and most effective ways to induce sleep is to rub some oil on the scalp and the soles of the feet before going to bed. Use sesame oil, brahmi oil, jasmine oil, or coconut oil and massage gently for a few minutes. Slightly warming the oil before applying is helpful.

-Drink a cup of warm almond milk before going to bed. You can drink plain milk if you prefer, but adding a pinch of nutmeg (1/8 tsp) and cardamom will make it more delicious as well as more effective.

-Have a vata-pacifying dinner: include foods that are warm, moist, and grounding. Avoid eating dry or raw foods, and drinking ice-cold beverages.

-Set a daily routine and bedtime ritual schedule for yourself.

-Give yourself a positive affirmation, let go of the negative ‘I can’t sleep’. Positive affirmations to try: I sleep like a baby, I sleep well, my sleep is restful and nourishing to my body

-Chamomile tea is caffeine free and is a traditional remedy for insomnia.

-Valerian root is great to relieve stress and induce relaxation. It is available in tea or drops form at most health foods stores.

-Try a guided relaxation before sleep.

Sweet happy dreams!

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