Beauty sleep is no joke! When it comes to self-care routines that will provide lasting beauty, adequate shut-eye should be at the top of your list. Ayurveda considers proper rest to be one of the 3 Pillars of Life necessary to living healthy and harmoniously. It’s just as important as food and sex! Without enough sleep, we deprive our body and mind of the ability to function optimally and our ojas, responsible for the foundation of our immune system, becomes depleted. Plus, our body is not given the proper time needed to detoxify and repair, both crucial to maintaining that healthy glow.
To ensure that your beauty sleep game is on lock, Ayurveda has some helpful nighttime rituals to help your body and mind unwind, relax and let-go before drifting off into dreamland…
1. Decrease Stimulation. We take in a lot of stimulus throughout our day, and too much right before bed can put us into overdrive, making it a challenge to turn off the mind. About an hour before you start winding down for bed, turn off your screens (i.e. computers, televisions, tablets, and yes, even your phone). You can also dim the lights in your house or light candles for an old school vibe, to help signal to the body that it is time for sleep.
2. Say NO to Caffeine. Think twice before ordering that afternoon chai or having a bite of chocolate for dessert, as the effects of caffeine can last up to 6 hours. Instead, sip on some organic, warm, milk of your choice with 1 tsp of Ayurvedic Golden Milk or ¼ tsp of Nutmeg to put your mind at ease. If you are not a fan of warm milk, drink some herbal tea with calming, nervine sedative herbs like our Hydrate Blend or Bliss Blend teas to soothe the nervous system, while calming the body and mind. Add coconut oil or ghee to any of these options for a tasty, moisturizing, ojas building boost!
3. Pranayama. Breathing techniques like Alternate Nostril Breathing, or Anuloma Viloma, are simple yet profound breathing exercises that can literally be done anywhere and help to quickly balance and relax movement in the mind. Pranayama can be stimulating or calming, so make sure you choose a breathing practice that is grounding to the nervous system. We recommend trying Anuloma Viloma, also known as Nadi Shodhana, or a slow, mindful belly breath.
4. Practice Asana. Resting and forward folding postures like Bālāsana (child’s pose), Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) or Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining butterfly) can relieve tension in the body and relax the mind, especially when practiced before bed. Just like pranayama, asanas can be both activating or grounding. Be sure to stick to postures that are calming to the nervous system for your nighttime practice. If you are feeling called to attend an evening yoga class, yin and restorative yoga are ideal.
5. Meditate. Meditation is a beneficial tool for allowing the mind to intentionally let go of any stress from the day while cultivating inner joy and peace. Try listening to a guided Yoga Nidra meditation to help the body and mind drift off to sleep. Journaling can also be a helpful way to move thoughts out of the mind. Try writing down 5 things that you are grateful for to end each day on a positive note.
6. Take a Candlelit Bath. Romance yourself! Steep your body into a luxurious organic Coconut Milk Bath made with oat flour, epsom salt, turmeric, rose, lavender, shatavari and cardamom to ease your mind, relax your body and soften your skin. You can also try adding essential oils of Lavender, Jasmine or Cedarwood when drawing your bath to further heighten your relaxing, aroma-therapeutic experience, and get your body and mind in the mood for sleep.
7. Incorporate The Abhyanga Ritual. Oil the body through the practice of Abhyanga, a traditional Ayurvedic self-massage offered with warm oil to cleanse the lymphatic system, calm the nervous system and hydrate the skin. This loving ritual is traditionally offered in the mornings, but can also be a beautiful way to nourish and ground yourself, relieving any tension leftover from your busy day. Pair with your evening bath by offering it to yourself before or after your soak in the tub. Use slow, long, heavy strokes and calming herbal infused body oils to support your ultimate sleep goals.
8. Love Your Feet. Massaging oil into your feet at night can not only help to relieve the stress from your day, but your feet are also major absorption points of the body, making them excellent for applying grounding, resinous essential oils like Jatamansi, Vetiver or Sandalwood to help promote sound sleep.
9. Pamper Your Pores. Washing your face at night should be as much of a priority as brushing your teeth. It is important to remove any make-up, dirt, debris or unwanted energy from the day. Going to bed with a clean face will support the longevity and health of the skin, while also allowing your pores to breathe deep and rest with ease. Try one of our Cleansers & Masks or full Skincare Rituals.
10. Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night. Preferably before or around 10 pm is ideal. Ayurveda believes that the doshas govern specific times of the day. At 10 pm pitta hours start to kick in; therefore, it is best to tuck yourself into bed before the motivated energy of pitta activates and you find yourself caught up in your second wind. This is also a pertinent time for the body to purify and repair itself from the day so that you can begin tomorrow feeling restored and renewed. Having a set sleep schedule will also allow your body to get into a healthy circadian rhythm, allowing it to internally know when it is time to wind down and hit the hay.
Although tempting, resist immediately incorporating this entire list tonight, as you don’t want to overwhelm your evening. Remember, this is about relaxing the body, not pushing yourself to do more in your day. Start by choosing just a few practices to infuse into your night. Once you have taken a liking to a practice and it becomes a non-negotiable part of your evening routine, like brushing your teeth, consider adding on more. You may find that you only need to incorporate a few of the suggestions, or you may find yourself slowly wanting to weave in more. Get creative and start with the routines that you feel called to do. Soon, your Ayurvedic evening rituals will guarantee you not only catching adequate ZZZ’s but also have you falling asleep, looking and feeling like a queen.
By Leah Danielle Klatt
co-owner of PAAVANI Ayurveda