Ask just about anyone you know if they get enough sleep and the answer you are likely to get is “no.” According to the CDC, an estimated 50–70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder. Want to learn how to get better sleep? Read on.
Not only is the quality of sleep we get not up to snuff, but we are also not getting enough sleep. A 2009 survey conducted by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that 35.3% of adults surveyed get less than seven hours of sleep. The survey also found adults reported nodding off while driving or engaged in other activities.
It’s not just adults who have trouble getting enough sleep, but children also. The demands placed on our youth in school and in their activities make it hard for them to get a good night’s sleep. A solution to this widespread sleep problem is applying the principles of Ayurveda to your pre-sleep preparations.
Before we introduce Ayurveda, let’s look at why sleep is so important. In children, sleep is essential for healthy growth and development. Children who get enough sleep are more focused, perform better in school and activities, are happier, and have fewer behavioral problems. The average child aged 5–12 needs 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.
In adults, sleep is when the body and mind rest and restore. Adults who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and stroke. Adults who get enough sleep are also more likely to maintain a healthy weight. The average adult needs about 7½–9 hours of sleep per night.
For older adults, sleep is an essential tool in maintaining health during the aging process. Many seniors find it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep due to health conditions such as the need to use the restroom frequently. Older adults need just as much sleep as their younger counterparts, about 7½–9 hours.
How can Ayurveda help?
Ayurveda is a method of healing the body naturally. It is a discipline that is more than 5,000 years old and originated in India. The main difference between Ayurveda and modern medicine is that Ayurveda seeks to treat the cause of disease, not the symptoms.
Have you ever taken a sleep aid? Millions of adults take prescribed medications to help them sleep better. Unfortunately, sleeping pills don’t address the underlying causes of lack and poor quality of sleep. Applying principles of Ayurveda to your night-time routine can help you get better sleep, and more of it, with less reliance on pills.
Sleep Better with Ayurveda
Try adding these practices to your day and enjoy the increased energy that comes with better sleep!
Nix caffeine. Or at least cut off your caffeine consumption after 3 pm to sleep better. That goes for sugar and other stimulants. Your body will have a tough time closing up shop for the night if you have sugary, caffeinated substances coursing through your system.
Drink hot milk. It sounds like something your grandmother would tell you to do, but a common Ayurvedic practice is to drink hot spiced milk before bed. Try a hot cup with a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg. The spices are cleansing for your body, and the nutmeg is calming.
Unplug. Give yourself some screen-free quiet time for at least an hour before bed. Turn off your phone, computer, TV, and tablet. Dim the lights and play some soothing music that fills your heart. This gives your brain a chance to switch from active mode to sleep mode.
Meditate. You may not think you know how, but you don’t have to be a yogi or Buddhist monk to meditate. Try this: sit quietly and comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Even five minutes of this is enough to start resting the mind.
Get Moving. Not right before bed of course, but try to incorporate more movement or exercise into your day. Take the stairs, go for a walk, do yoga, and get active! Your body is designed to be in motion during the day and at rest at night. Moving more will help you get on that cycle.