We are within a week of the season change. While we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring here in Minnesota, not everyone is transitioning smoothly. I have had several clients over the past couple of weeks complain about not being able to sleep. The energetics of the season change are much to blame.
In Ayurveda, the elements of air and ether have been with us throughout the fall and winter. What this does is increase vata. When we are out of balance in vata, we wake after 2 am and find it difficult to fall back asleep. We may also find ourselves sleeping lightly and restless so when we wake, we feel as though we have hardly slept. When Vata is out of balance, we may experience restless, disjointed thoughts, become forgetful, and perhaps, experience fear and anxiety throughout the day.
So, what can you do to help sleep better? Applying vata reducing guidelines and following the laws of the Ayurvedic clock can help.
How to Combat a Vata Sleep Imbalance at Bedtime:
- Avoid too much stimulation at night. This includes electronics. Try going “screen-free” for 90 minutes before night-night time.
- Take a warm bath infused with fennel, orange, and tulsi oil.
- Try hot almond milk with any or all of the following: chopped dates, coconut flakes, cardamom, ginger, or honey.
- Before going to bed, rub your feet with warm sesame oil (sesame oil can stain – be sure to use old socks to protect your sheets.)
- Try Alternate Nostril Breathing for five minutes. Breathe in through the left nostril and out through the right, closing the opposite one.
- Follow this with 30 seconds of Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) by taking full, deep breaths like a bellows in and out through your nose, using your full lung capacity. Afterward, do a minute of meditation. Repeat this until your agitating thoughts subside.
- If you wake in the middle of the night, get up and have chamomile tea. Don’t just lie there thinking.
How to Balance Vata Throughout the Day
- Eat foods that balance Vata.
- Schedule your day so you can eat three warm, cooked meals, with the biggest meal at noon. Eat dinner before 7:00 p.m., so it has time to digest before bed.
- Go to bed well before 10 pm., if possible by 9:30. This allows you to use the sleepy, duller Kapha time of night to help you fall asleep.
- Use practices like a grounding yoga sequence, meditation, and Yoga Nidra to reduce mental worries or mental stress in your life.
Because we are approaching the change from vata (air and ether) to kapha (earth and water), we are smack dab in the middle of what we call a “glitch” in Ayurveda. It’s like a big speed bump when the characteristics and imbalances in the doshas are most noticeable.
If you are either having trouble falling asleep or you are waking up before 2 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep for several hours, you may be experiencing a Pitta imbalance, read more about pitta here.
Want to learn more? My upcoming course: Ayurveda 101 will teach you how the elements affect us and how to live in balance and ease. Be the first to hear when registration is open by signing up for email updates.
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