sc00255e8e03You toss. You turn. You count sheep. But still your mind is whirling. For 50 percent of the nation’s population, getting a good night’s sleep is harder than mining gold. Below are ten simple yet powerful Ayurvedic sleeping tips that can help. Researchers have identified lack of sleep as a cause of many significant health issues and high stress levels. Maharishi Ayurveda honors sleep as one of the four pillars of health. And it offers a wide arsenal of tools to improve your sleep—from structuring a more relaxing daily routine to eating the right foods.

It even offers specific advice for solving various kinds of sleep problems. The first problem is the most common: difficulty falling asleep at night. This is caused by Vata imbalance or mental stress. People who toss and turn, unable to fall asleep because their mind is on overdrive, have this issue. It tends to happen to people who are anxious, worried or who have to rush around a lot during the day (sound familiar?). If it takes more than 15 minutes before the sandman visits you at night, you might try one or more of these tips to fall asleep faster and to sleep better in general.

Foods, spices and tips for sleep:

1. Eating more sweet, sour and salty foods helps balance Vata dosha, the mind-body operator that controls mental activity.

2. Eating three warm, cooked meals at the same time every day is recommended.

3. Getting to bed before 10:00 p.m. and rising by 6:00 a.m. is also advised.

4.As much as possible, avoid rushing during the day.

5. You can make your own Poppy-Seed Sleep Aid and eat it one hour before bed:

  • 1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coconut powder (fresh-grated if possible)
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1 pinch of turmeric
  • Small amount of organic ghee (clarified butter)

In a small bowl mix the poppy seeds with the coconut powder, adding small amounts of water as you mix until it forms a thick paste, and set aside. Melt the ghee in a frying pan until it turns clear. Add turmeric and cumin and mix well. Remove immediately; simmer without heat until the color and aroma of the spices change slightly. Add to the poppy seed mixture, mix well and let stand five minutes. Add a little salt to taste. Eat one hour before bed for best results.

6. It’s best to avoid watching TV or using digital devices the hour before sleep.

7. Massaging your hands and feet with Rejuvenation Massage Oil before bed also helps.

8. Another suggestion is to use aroma therapy at bedtime. Pure lavender oil or Slumber Time aroma are recommended.

9. Taking Blissful Sleep herbal supplement one hour before bed helps balance Vata dosha and therefore facilitates falling asleep faster. Try Deep Rest to support sleeping deeply through the night. This herbal formula is especially targeted for those who have difficulty staying asleep, waking up in the middle of the night. But it also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early in the morning after less than six hours of sleep. The herbs in Deep Rest help you to sleep deeply throughout the night — and wake up feeling refreshed, ready to take on the day.

10. Ayurvedic herbal teas can help. The herbs in Slumber Time Tea include Winter Cherry, a powerful adaptogenic that helps stabilize the mind and emotions. Arjuna myrobalans helps calm the emotions. Bacopa Monnieri and Indian Pennywort (Gotu Kola) balance and calm the mind.  Licorice pacifies both Vata and Pitta, and Cardamom is a tridoshic spice good for balancing all three doshas.

You might try adding just one of these habits a week to feel more relaxed during the day and to sink into a happy sleep at night.

Sleep well!

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], May 7, 2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Photo Credit: Gerald Ward. Reprinted with permission.