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Sleep Sumptuous Sleep

Ayurveda Inspired: Nourishing body, mind and soul

Ah, to sleep…

It’s midnight. It’s dark. All is quiet. Except you. Your mind is awhirl. Your legs twitch. You toss, you turn. You plead. “Sleep, please.” You turn over once again. In the deep, dark stillness of the night there you lie, wide awake. 

Sleep deficiency is on the rise. And we know, because we can feel it, that lack of sleep is bad for us. Brain fog, lack of creativity, grumpiness or worse, even depression, metabolic disorders, compromised immunity, heart health, and fertility are just some of the risks.

A New Year is a good time to rest, renew, re-align with nature. A time to reconnect with nature’s rhythms so that nature can rise in and through us to bring health, energy, clarity, creativity, satisfaction. Yet, in this bubbly, electric world of ours, rest can be elusive.

Ayurvedically speaking, lack of sleep reduces Ojas, which feeds irregularity, and can become a self-sustaining cycle. Chronic lack of sleep is Vata vitiating, fragmenting, disregulating, depleting.

Anecdotally, on my blog the posts on sleep tonics are the most read, most liked and most shared of all. Perchance to dream? It seems we’re feeling it. 

Ayurveda & Ojas

Ojas is the Ayurvedic word for deep nourishment, our underlying reserves of energy. Ojas supports contentment, patience, longevity, stamina, strength, and stability. 

Ojas lubricates joints, nourishes the brain, coats the nervous system, steadies the heart, grounds, calms, stabilizes.

Ojas promotes strong immunity, balanced hormonal regulation, blissful emotions, and the unfolding of our inner spiritual development. 

So how do we cultivate Ojas? Ojas arises from wholesome, well-digested food and deep productive sleep, where healthy digested foods are metabolized into strong tissue and balanced energy. In other words, Ojas helps us sleep, and Ojas is the fruit of good sleep.

Regularity and consistency nourish Ojas. So if you are sleep challenged, build momentum one small step at a time.

Soon enough deep ojas-enhancing sleep will be restored, promoting vibrancy, enthusiasm and joy.

 

Sleep & Time

The most productive time to sleep
10pm – 6am

It’s not just how long to sleep, but when. Research into chronobiology confirms that not all hours are the same. Asleep by 10pm and up by 6am is the most restorative time – being most conducive to health, metabolism, creativity, mental clarity, stable moods, steady, balanced energy. 

Sleep by Dosha
Sleeping 10pm-2am helps your body heal Pitta dosha. Being asleep 2am-6am helps your body heal Vata dosha.

Vata: Difficult falling asleep, wakes between 2-6am | 8-9 hours of sleep is beneficial
Pitta: May be disciplined about sleep, but if imbalanced stays up til midnight, or wakes around midnight | 8 hours
Kapha: Usually sleeps well, may be hard to rouse in the morning | 7-8 hours is often enough

Sleep Aids

We all know by now that, when it comes to sleep, computers, electonics, digital screens don’t help. What does help is nature. In the evening, you might try this little ritual: Close the screen, put away the phone, and step outside. Smell the air, look up at the sky, breathe in the waning light or the emerging dark, feel the night.

Regulate to the time of day by being in the time of day.
Being full present to it entrains your mind, allowing it to settle into these quieter rhythms.

Below are a few more practices for you.

Tratak

Learn

Guided Meditation

Nadi Shodhana

Last Night As I Was Sleeping
by Antonio Machado

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Sleep Promoting Foods & Tonics

The foods we eat also feed the brain, nerve and regulating hormonal system.  When our Ojas is strong then what we eat is transformed into toxin-free energy, creating an alert and clear state of mind and calm, generative emotions. 

Foods that help with sleep re warm, unctuous and naturally sweet, just like the sleep you want to have.  They are foods with the elements of earth and water, foods which are cooling in their energy (this is not temperature – think alkaline v acidic) and foods which are not stimulating or heating.

Of the Six Tastes, sleep-promoting foods are in the category of Sweet. Sweet tasting foods – fruit, especially dates, cherries, bananas, grapes and raisins, whole grains, nuts, root vegetables, ghee – nourish Ojas and support restful sleep. Nutmeg is the best spice as it is considered a nervine, soothing to the mind and nervous system. Warm is the best temperature as it helps melt tension while encouraging digestion.

A warm, sweet tonic before bed helps ground the light and mobile nature of Vata, fostering the cooling, heavier qualities needed for sleep.

Foods to avoid have the quality of sour, strongly pungent, astringent and bitter as they are either too stimulative or too light. It is also important to have dinner at least three hours before bed as active digestion can deter sleep.

Above all, Ojas arises from deep sleep, where healthy digested foods are metabolized into strong tissue and balanced energy. So sleep feeds the body’s capacity for nourishing sleep. 

See below for more details, and those favorite Sleep recipes.

Foods To Support | To Avoid

Foods that Support Sleep
In moderation, 3 hours prior to bedtime

*Dates
*Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts
*Rice, Oats
*Banana, Grapes
*Cherry Juice, Coconut Water
*Pumpkin, Pumpkin Seeds
*Dairy, Ghee
*Maple Syrup

Choose
In the evening or closer to bedtime

*Warm Teas or Tonics
*Sweet, warm milk, can be a grain or nut milk
*Gentle spicing like cardamom or nutmeg

Avoid
Avoid after 5pm and especially before bed

*Sour foods such as yogurts, ferments, alcohol
*Strongly pungent foods such as hot spices, raw garlic, raw onion
*Astringent foods such as beans, legumes, black tea, drying fruits
*Light and airy foods like popcorn or popped chips
*Stimulating foods that are sour, salty, spicy

 

Deep Sleep Recipes

Moon Mylk Sleep Tonic

Deep Sleep Ojas Tonic

Golden Nut Butter Melts

Nature’s Ojas

Ayurveda In The Kitchen: Seasonal Living

Whole food recipes inspired by Ayurveda

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