What is in this article?:
- Holistic tips for better sleep
- Try massage oils and calming baths
From de-cluttering to cleaning up your diet, Organic India explores the top natural ways to get a deeper, higher quality slumber.
There are hundreds of possible factors to consider when wondering how to get a good night's sleep, many of which fall into two main categories: remove the distressing agitation (vata dosha) from the bodymind and increase the centered balance of the bodymind (sattva guna.)
There are many ways to do this and the basic idea, as in all of Ayurveda, is to skillfully use a confluence of well-timed techniques, including exercise, diet, herbs like the anti-stress adaptogens Ashwagandha and Tulsi-Holy Basil, lifestyle and nutraceuticals to increase the chances of the desired outcome.
A great combination that I have seen work incredibly well at supporting sleep is to take, two to three hours before bed, 2-4 capsules of the Peaceful Sleep Formula chased with a warm soothing cup of Tulsi Sleep Tea. You want your sleep to be deeply restorative, not deeply sedative, and so this is another reason why using deeply restorative herbs like Ashwagandha and Tulsi-Holy Basil, both of which are central to these “sleep” formulas, is a great idea. Another apropos Ayurvedic tenet is that you make sure long-term lifestyle changes are being implemented to address deeper issues and not just short-term fixes that are merely symptomatic and not therapeutic. In other words, knockout sedatives are the last resort in treating insomnia. Also realize that there are numerous physical and karmic ailments that may result in insomnia that I will not cover here and that should be addressed individually by a qualified source of wellness guidance.
Gentle yet mildly vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to ensure sleep as it helps remove stagnation, alleviates distressing agitation (vata), increases the poise of one’s mind (sattva,) and helps move pent up energy, which is rampant in our culture. Flowing through Yoga asanas is great along with walks and gentle runs in wholesome (sattvic,) high-prana/chi places.
Exercise also helps to move and digest the mental issues that otherwise cause endless ruminations through the night. But exercise won’t help if you push your body too hard. Two great herbs to get the most out of your exercise are Ashwagandha and Turmeric. They both are great food for the joints and both support a healthy response to inflammation, which is very important. They both also support the density of core vitality, and they allow you to go deeper into your workout with less risk of injury. Turmeric is especially important here as it helps to build and move blood in a very positive way that minimizes the subtle agitation in the bodymind that precludes sleep.
Quiet your mind
These emotional/mental issues do tend to be a main reason why people have noisy minds and thus experience poor quality sleep. The type of issues that are the worse culprits are those that tend to “move” the most, the air-element (vata) states like anxiety, worry and fear.Fire element (pitta) states like anger, jealousy and frustration are a close second.
There are numerous tales in the Vedic literature of great Yogis fighting endlessly with the demons of their day. I would aver to say that there is no difference between those legendary demons, who are always strongest at night, and some of the chimerical insidious dysfunctional egotistical thoughts that we can generate when mind is filled with dull darkness (tamas) and divisive agitation (rajas).
Noisy minds can also arise from what Dr David Frawley calls “toxic junk impressions” which are the sensory equivalent of “junk food.” These agitating mental impressions are actually “eaten” by your mind and include freeways, advertising, dulling scenes, TV, etc. Then at night a momentum of the unresolved agitation from all these junk impressions echo throughout your mind and body precluding easy deep sleep. Again, often our antistress herbal adaptogen allies like Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Amalaki, Tulsi-Holy Basil and formulas likeJoy! and Memory are great to help mitigate our basic susceptibility to stress and this will in turn help us manage stress and increase our chances to enjoy a deep sleep.
Get in touch with emotions
Often when other people are the objects of our anger, fear and agitation we can use a Metta practice of projecting love to them to antidote these negative emotions. Another wonderful deep method is identifying yourself as the witness of these “demons” and impressions and knowing them as simple objects in your awareness, basic phenomena like a book on a shelf. That way you do not necessarily remove the agitation, which may be very difficult, but you change your relationship to the agitation and thus remove its power to negatively affect you.
As my Teacher says, if you are sitting on your front porch do you watch the cars go by, or do you run after them, grab their rear bumper, and get dragged all over town with your face in the gravel? It seems like a simple choice to simply watch but as we all know for some strange reason we do tend to grab the “back bumpers” of a lot of nasty thoughts and get our “faces” fully pulverized by our ego’s pot-holed streets.
The more you let go of these thoughts and conditioning and patterns, the easier you will sleep and this will support you to be whatever you want to be, whether that is a parent or a student or a partner or a provider. Tulsi, especially Tulsi Tea, is known to support deep levels of emotional digestion that gets congested easily in a frenetic world where myriads of exponential curves of change abound. Both the Brahmis also assist this!