Almost all of us have been through periods of sleeplessness. Many of us have lived with nocturnal restlessness for so long that we think it’s normal. Some suffer from really debilitating insomnia. There are many causes for sleeplessness—everything from poor eating habits to PTSD. It’s important to state up front that if this condition is extreme for you, see your local doctor, shaman, therapist, or combination of same. Get to the bottom of it, if you can. It's no joke.
We spend one third of our lives sleeping for a reason. It’s during this time that breathing and heart rate become regular; body temperature and blood pressure drops; muscles relax; tissue growth and repair occurs; hormones are released; and energy is restored. It’s simple: sleep is not a 'nice perk;' it is crucial to our health.
Having suffered for years with getting good sleep at night, I’ve finally found three 'secrets' I want to share with you. When I stick to this program, it works every time. Do all three, every day for a week, and you'll see what I mean:
1. Self Massage in the Morning with Sesame Oil.
You can use plain old sesame oil (not roasted) from the grocery store, but I have found an Ayurvedic oil that balances my particular dosha (see next week’s blogpost). Since my challenge is balancing my Vata, I use this oil. I put a drop at the crown of my head, a drop massaged onto both ears. Then I put a good teaspoon’s worth on each arm, massaging as thoroughly as possible. A small amount is rubbed in a circle onto my belly. Then a good tablespoon for each leg. By this time, the hands have just the right amount of oil to just rub it into my feet. While doing this, I summon great gratitude for each part of the body, and make an intention to use each for the benefit of beings. It’s a form of prayer for me; but you could just do the massage and it would still be awesome.
Then I put a good teaspoon’s worth on each arm, massaging as thoroughly as possible. A small amount is rubbed in a circle onto my belly. Then a good tablespoon for each leg. By this time, the hands have just the right amount of oil to just rub it into my feet. While doing this, I summon great gratitude for each part of the body, and make an intention to use each for the benefit of beings. It’s a form of prayer for me; but you could just do the massage and it would still be awesome.
2. Golden Milk About One Hour Before Bed.
Here is the recipe:
1 cup almond milk (you can use any kind of milk)
½ tsp ghee (clarified butter)
½ tsp turmeric
pinch of ginger powder
honey or sweetener to desired sweetness
Turmeric has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant, a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-septic, and a serious cancer blocker. It has also been shown to reduce joint pain and can also be a good antidepressant. Ginger has long been used to relieve digestive problems, nausea, motion sickness and pain. And the benefits of ghee range from its Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant activity to boosting energy, reducing inflammation and increasing eye health.
But I didn’t know any of that when I tried it. All I know is I tried it, and slept like a baby.
3. Read Before Bed (No Screen Time After 8pm)
In this age of Netflix, On Demand, and DVR—there’s really no excuse for keeping the TV on till 11pm. If you’re suffering with a sleep problem, then you’re probably ready to try anything, so try this: Turn off all your screens at 8pm. (Calm down, now, and just think about it.)
You want to sleep so bad? Make space for it. Do it like you mean it. Let your world grow quiet. Turn out a lot of the lights in the house. Snuggle in. And then, read a book. (Preferably not on a screen.) That's right. Read a book. This article unpacks why it works if you're curious. But you could just try doing it and see for yourself.
All I can tell you is that these three steps, taken together, have created for me a reliable, delicious sleep that I’ve come to look forward to and love.
And here's the unexpected bonus: my evenings with my beloved are much sweeter and more meaningful. We used to sit blank-faced and bleary-eyed in front of the TV, channel surfing until we were too exhausted to keep going. Now, we’re snuggled in, reading our books (or in my case, sometimes knitting) in companionable silence. The evening gives way to darkness, and sleep sends its car and driver to take us home for the night.
Sweet dreams my friends.
p.s. I want to hear about what works for you. What are your best tips for getting a good night's sleep? Comment below!