Discover 11 ways to create deeper sleep on a regular basis in your life from Ayurveda and Polarity Therapy, including food, movement, marma, and common sense. These tips originated as I was working with Cate Stillman in her Cleanse earlier this year:
- Get enough exercise. A 20 – 30 minute brisk walk (or whatever you can do) sometime in the day can make a big difference for deeper sleep, especially for the blood type Os amongst us. Test it out for yourself.
- Turn it all off. Everything – phone, modem, the works – see if you can get it to 10 – 12 hours/night off. The research is strong here, in terms of the association between EMF and insomnia. Consider a regular weekly 24 hour wifi fast, to reset your sleep clock for deeper sleep.
- Get your Vitamin D levels checked, once every year or two if you can. A serum level of 50 – 80 units is considered optimal. This supports your uptake of calcium and magnesium from your food, to relax muscles and mind.
- Maximize calcium and magnesium rich foods.You need at least 600 mgs of calcium from food, and 300 – 400 mgs of magnesium/day. Many people are slowly running themselves into deficiency with “clean” dairy-free diets. Get realistic and figure what it takes to give yourself what you and your muscles, nerves and bones need, given your dietary preferences. Check out Ojas Milk, Black Sesame Seed Shake, Cleansing Almond Green Drink, and Speedy Pachak Lassi in my new book, Easy Healing Drinks from the Wisdom of Ayurveda http://www.easyhealingdrinks.com. Invite back into your food choices firm tofu, dark leafy greens, sheep or goat dairy if cow doesn’t work for you, almond or flax milk. Mineral rich options every day, not once a week. (If you’re an omnivore, tiny sardines with bones are a calcium-rich option.) Create deeper sleep with food.
- Assess your schedule, activity-wise. Sometimes we’re packing so much into a day, the only way the nervous system can deal with it is through processing at night. This can lead to miserably light sleep. Conversely, some of us are under stimulated. Do you need to do a little less (or more) during the day for deeper sleep at night?
- Go back to nature. If only for a night or two. Our adult daughter catches up on deep sleep during her seasonal bird research job, going to sleep with the sun and rising with it. This way she gets improbably long stretches in, 9 – 10 hours/night.
- Consider your sleep companion story. Some of us sleep better with others, some sleep better alone. This can change with life conditions, like menopause. Remember when you’re on a plane, and the flight attendants give the directions for using the oxygen masks? It’s “take care of yourself first, then help your companion(s)”. Whenever possible, get your own deeper sleep sustenance program down, then address the insomniac partner, restless three year old, or unruly pet.
- Deal with underlying conditions: mattress, pain, structure. It’s surprising how often discomfort can keep us awake. This cycles back into self care: do you want to consider a new fitness program to reduce pain, that could also result in deeper sleep?
- Nurture healthy Kapha for deep, deep, heavy, heavy, sleep…while lightening up on other levels. This is an especially useful hint for those of us with generous amounts of Vata or Pitta. The energy of these two doshas naturally flies upward, waking us up with thoughts and feelings. Kapha’s energy heads more toward the ground, away from the head. You can build your own Kapha dosha’s tendencies by slowing down, doing long exhales as needed to stimulate your rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system and by oiling the soles of your feet before bedtime.
- If you’re already awake in the middle of the night, may it benefit all beings. What do I mean by this wild statement? We’re here for a reason. If we’re awake, may we use the experience as positively as we can. One person I know prays; another meditates; a third does mantras. In Polarity Therapy and Ayurveda, the right hand sends energy, the left receives it. You can place your right hand on your chest and your left on your belly as you rest. thereby grounding the energy downward. (For marma fans, these are Hridaya and Nabhi, respectively.) This position increases your chances of deeper sleep. Try it out.
- Tip for next summer: sleep outside when you can. Earlier in the summer, before the fires and the rain, we slept outside on the little hill behind our house on a deck. It was great, deeper sleep like being on a mini-vacation. Clearly this is not an option for everyone, especially in December, unless you have a cozy rustic cabin with a fireplace and some open windows.
Amadea Morningstar, MA, RPE, RYT is an expert in Ayurvedic health care. She meets you where you are, and is available with respect, bringing over 40 professional years of experience, academic training and hands-on knowledge to her sessions and books. Sessions with Amadea include Western nutrition, Ayurvedic nutrition and herbalism, Polarity Therapy, Marma therapy, Integral yoga, and nature-based approaches. She and Renee Lynn are co-creators together of the Easy Healing Drinks series.
Photo: Earth-Moon system as seen from Mercury, thanks to Wikipedia