Sleep like a Yogi

Sleep for health

Sleep is one of the most magical things we can do for ourselves.  There are countless studies on the benefits of sleep and yet we still don’t fully understand everything that happens during sleep.  From the yogic perspective, it is related to meditation in the way it helps process our subconscious.  Some yogis claim meditation effectively replaces the REM sleep cycle and that it’s best to wake up at 4 AM to meditate.  Getting adequate, high quality sleep can lead to increased performance at work, feeling better throughout the day, and increased overall health.

Bedtime ritual

If you have trouble falling, or staying asleep, setting up some bed time habits might help.

  1. Electronics off.  Darkness is how your body knows its time to settle in to sleep and looking at a backlit screen doesn’t help this natural process.  Macs have programs like night shift and f.lux to eliminate the blue light from your screens at night which help reduce this effect, if you just can’t get away.
  2. Take some time alone.  Having a meditation or yoga practice before bed is a great way to shed the stresses of the day and prepare for sleep, but just sitting alone in quiet stillness can go a long way.
  3. Wash your feet.  Here’s an old yogi trick.  Grab your favorite skin care oil, such as almond oil, and massage your feet with it under cold running water.  The colder, the better.  As you massage your feet and dip them into and out of the water, they will warm up.  Add a mantra to this practice and you will be blissed out before you know it.  When your feet are warm again, dry them vigorously with a towel and enjoy how great they feel as you relax and doze off for the night.
  4. Warm milk.  It’s well known that milk (like turkey) has a chemical which will relax you when heated.  If your diet allows it, try boiling some milk before bed.  It goes great with turmeric in our golden milk recipe.  Or you can add some iceberg lettuce (it sounds stranger than it is!) for a potent sleepy-time drink.

Here’s a little exercise that can also help.  Sit up straight with your legs extended in front of you.  Keep your legs straight.  As you inhale, flex your toes back toward your head.  As you exhale, point them forward.  Move rhythmically.  It’s not a large movement.  It’s subtle.  Feel how the motion in your feet translates up your legs and all the way through your spine to the crown of your head.  Continue for 3 minutes and then relax and sleep.

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