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The Sleep Season: Part 3

Anja is also another guest returning from Season 1 and this time we chatted about how Ayurveda practices can affect the quality of your sleep. I love the cross over between Ayurveda and nutrition. They both compliment the body’s natural rhythm and cycles.

After my chat with Anja I tried her recommendation for a turmeric and cinnamon latte before bed and a self foot massage, so good.

Anja’s book recommendations

My Grandmother’s hands – Resmaa Menakem

Accessing the healing power of the vagus nerve - Stanley Rosenburg

Liz’s book recommendation

Ayurveda: Life, health, longevity - Dr Robert Svoboda

Anja’s experience of Insomnia

Anja shares her experiences of sleep. In the past she has suffered from bouts of insomnia. She previously used sleeping tablets to help. Overtime time she has looked at Ayurveda practices that have helped her overcome this, such as good habits and sleep routines.

The biggest issue for insomnia is the anxiety that builds up if you’re not sleeping and this becomes a pattern that makes going to sleep an issue, so look at ways to remove the elements of stress. For example removing the clock so you don’t end up clock watching and panicking about much time you have left to sleep.

Sometimes we look at how we can add to a sleep routine to improve it, but sometimes we need to look at how we can simply our life to improve the sleep routine. Reduce the stimulus.

Anja’s top tips to aid a good night’s sleep

  • Tumeric latte bedtime drink - Warm milk is very nourishing and is cooling to a pitta type person. Try herbs and spices to flavour the milk (turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, ashvaganha (balancing herb), saffron). *

  • Foot massage before bed.

  • Establish a sleep routine.

  • Make it as simple as possible – look at your whole day routine and see if there are any culprits you can remove such as caffeine, alcohol.

  • Eat your main meal in the middle of the day – enjoy a lighter tea.

  • Abhyanga – self massage with oil which can feel so nourishing and feel like a treat which can also calm the body.

  • If you suffer from insomnia – don’t keep a clock next to your bed that you can easily see if you wake up or can’t sleep.

  • Dim the lights – switch off phones and laptops

  • Reduce your news content or the times that you can check in with it. The news can affect levels of anxiety and stress – perhaps watch it at lunchtime instead of first thing in the morning or last thing at night – so you can take it in but move onto another activity that removes you from those thoughts of lockdown news.

  • Can you reduce your caffein intake?

  • Reduce spicy food intake if this is something that gives you indigestion or eat spicy food earlier in the day.

*When I tried this I heated the milk in a saucepan. It feels therapeutic and is a nice gentle way to infuse the spices.

Anja talks us through the key elements associated with Ayurveda

The 5 elements: Fire, water, earth, air, ether

The 3 Doshas

Kapha – Earth and water- heavy, slow and stable

Pitta – fire /water – heat, passion, aggression

Vatta – Air and space – airy and spacey, creative

We all experience the different doshas as we go through life and these different stages can also affect how we sleep, therefore recognising these means we can change how habits to suit the dosha.

Dosha’s are also associated with different stages of the day. Do you recognise any of these characteristics in your day?

6am-10am – kapha – good time to exercise and get things done.

10am-2pm – pitta – fire is the strongest with the sun in the sky. It’s a good to eat the main meal and digest.

2pm-6pm – vatta – A good times for thoughts, ideas and creativity.

6pm-10pm – kapha – A good time to wind down.

10pm-2am – pitta kicks in at 10pm so good to go to bed before this time.

Liz’s experience of lockdown

The seasons can also effect the body’s natural bio rhythms. Over lockdown I experienced a shift in the simplicity of life and started to have a bigger meal at lunchtime so that I could eat with my husband – it’s been easier to tune into the natural rhythms of life. Sometimes life doesn’t allow for us to tune into our natural rhythms, but if we can align ourselves as much as we can, we might start to feel the benefit of the simplicity and a sense of slowing down. Or is it just because I’m in my forties?!

Breathing exercise to promote sleep

Alternate nostril breathing may also help if you can’t sleep when you’re in bed.

Sometimes having a device nearby so you can tune into a guided meditation, yoga nidra, it can help to take the stress away of not being able to sleep and it can give you a deep sense of relaxation.

Did you know?

Sometimes a yoga nidra/meditation can be the equivalent of 4 hours sleep, and overtime it can generally improve your quality of sleep.

Head over to Anja’s website to check out her course: How women’s cycle can affect their sleep.

*First published January 2021


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