For many people, there’s only one thing stopping them from enjoying a good night’s sleep in the summer: oppressive heat. Many people have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep when their body is not able to cool down enough. So, what do you do when you wake up in the wee hours of the morning? You know that tossing and turning endlessly probably is not going to help. Try my top 6 Ayurveda tried-and-true strategies — including some natural Ayurveda sleep aids —that will work with your body and not against it.
1. Minimize Stimulation before Bedtime
Ninety percent of people in the U.S. admit to using a technological device during the hour before turning in, and children often use electronic media to help them relax at night. If you’re among these nighttime technology-users, you may not realize the extent to which this can make it harder to settle down to sleep. But it can. The truth is, using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep.
The Sleep Foundation says here’s what happens.: Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.
One good substitution is reading. Reading an old-fashioned, printed book under lamplight (as opposed to bright overhead lighting) is a great choice. And using an e-ink e-reader (like the Kindle Paperwhite, as opposed to the Kindle Fire) is also a good idea, because it doesn’t produce the same type of blue light that a smartphone or tablet would.
2. Start an Evening Meditation
I would like you just to take a moment to think, when did you last take any time to do nothing? Nada, Zip, Absolutely nothing? Just a few minutes with no disruptions? And when I say nothing, I do mean nothing. So that’s no emailing, texting, no Internet, no TV, no chatting, no eating, no reading. Not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing.
Now doing nothing feels like the complete opposite of being productive, but after you’ve tried it you will see how effective it can be. I know – I hear you say that you are too busy to do nothing. Yet how many of you will happily invest hours in front of the television or spend plenty of time fretting and worrying about something without allowing yourself the pleasure to just be.
Actually, doing nothing can be a great investment into your personal well-being and something worth making time for- especially if sleep eludes you at night. Many people report feeling cold during or just after meditation, meaning a little mindfulness practice might be enough to cool you down on a hot day. There are also specific cooling breathing exercises, called pranayama, practiced in yoga, that can make you feel cooler in no time if meditation isn’t doing the trick. Not sure how to meditate? Try our short meditation here.
3. Hydrate your Body
Going to bed even mildly dehydrated can disrupt your sleep says the sleepfoundation.org. Surprised? Dehydration causes your mouth and nasal passages to become dry, setting you up for sleep-disruptive snoring and a parched throat and hoarseness in the morning.
A lack of pre-bed fluids can also lead to nocturnal leg cramps that may keep you awake. In addition to the frustration of fragmented sleep, being dehydrated during the night can compromise your alertness, energy, and cognitive performance the following day.
The Sleep Foundation goes on to say: Good hydration requires more than guzzling a bottle of water before bed. Focus on drinking plenty of non-caffeinated fluids regularly throughout the day. Women need approximately 91 ounces daily from beverages and foods, while men should aim for about 125 ounces.
In Ayurveda, coconut water is used for its cooling properties. In addition to that, it’s also a great source of the electrolytes you lose through sweating, making it a relatively low-calorie, low-sugar substitute for a summer rejuvenating drink. If coconut water is not for you – try these cooling tonics so that your body temperature is cool enough for sleep.
4. Take a Cool Shower
If you’re feeling hot right before bed, consider taking a cold shower to help lower your body temperature and remove any excess sweat from the day. Some people might prefer warmer water, however, it is a good idea to finish with a cold rinse in order to rebalance your temperature. Hot baths may relax your muscles at night but they will also make it more difficult to fall asleep during the summer. After your shower spray yourself with a cooling mister so that you can stay cool al night. I love our Summer Mister as it is made with rose water and cooling essential oils – spray it on your body and spray it lightly on your sheets at night before bed. That way you can stay cool and asleep all night long.
5. Eat Lighter Foods
During the summer, many people find that they can stay cooler by avoiding heavy foods at night. Digestion can raise your body temperature, especially if you are eating a lot of dairy, bread, and meat products. So, you might think about having an earlier dinner that is light. One of my favorites this time of year is our Summer Chickpea Salad or our Salmon Cakes with Cilantro Sauce. Have your biggest meal of the day at lunch and save your evening meal for something light, fresh and cooling.
6. Rose and Goji Berries – the Natural Sleep Aid
I know how frustrating it is to toss and turn and then worry about how much sleep you are not getting. To help calm your mind and body so that you can asleep easier – try this medicinal sleepy bedtime drink that is as delicious as it is therapeutic. It is made with nut milk, honey and a little rose water, and goji berries; a natural source of melatonin. I also added a little Shatavari, considered an adaptogen, a substance that enhances the body’s ability to adapt to stress and has a balancing, cooling, and calming effect. I love how light, sweet, and pretty looks. So ‘nighty night, sleep tight’ with this drink.
- 6 ounces of coconut milk
- 1 tsp goji berries
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon Shatavari powder
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- Heat the coconut milk and goji berries over low heat.
- Remove from the what, add the sweetener, Shatavari, and rose petals. Blend in a blender till well-blended and frothy. Drink warm – 20 minutes before bed.
Once you make the commitment to get a better night’s sleep you will notice changes in every part of your life. Your digestion will balance out, you will have increased focus throughout the day, even your skin will look better after a night of good zzz’s. Many of my clients lose weight when they get proper rest – and you may notice the same.
If you want to chat with me about your sleep issues – hop on a call with me. Just click on the link to my online calendar and find a time that works for you.