What’s the big deal about sleep?
We all know that sleep is essential, but statistically, about 70% of American adults are sleep deprived.
Sleep may be as crucial to your health as diet and exercise as you get older.
You need that time overnight to allow your body to repair and restore. And this is crucial because if you’re not getting to bed early enough or getting the quality sleep you need, you’re not able to access that recovery.
What does Ayurveda say about sleep?
Ayurveda recognizes three different energies, or doshas, that make up everything in the universe, including you and me.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Not only are they present in us, but they are found in the time of life (stage of life), time of year (seasons), and time of day.
Overnight from 10 pm to 2 am, is Pitta time. And during that time, your body is most invested in the job of repair and recovery.
So, if you can, I recommend being asleep before 10 pm. There’s a saying that sleep before midnight counts as double because your body can go through that restoration period.
Unfortunately, if you have a big meal in the evening or go to bed late, you can push back that repair process, and you might miss out on it.
When that happens, you’re borrowing energy from the next day. So if you wake up feeling achy, bloated, or sluggish, that might be the case.
So, if you eat too close to bed–and that can be any eating–not just dinner, it might be a snack, such as some popcorn or having a glass or two of wine; any of those things can shift your body into a digestive mode when you’re not meant to be digesting. And then it takes away that repair time that’s essential.
So, if your body is still trying to digest that midnight snack that you had, or you’re still up, going through work emails, or bingeing on Netflix at 11 o’clock, you’re cheating your body and living out of rhythm.
You might wonder, what’s the big deal? Maybe you’ve been doing this same thing since your 20s.
You can get away with different actions at 20 than you can in your 50s. And, well, the effects build up slowly over time—so slowly that you might notice a difference in how you feel in the morning now compared to your 20s.
So, what can you do about it?
Start small. Don’t try to make a big change that you’re less likely to stick with.
First, I usually recommend looking at what you’re eating in the evening so that your last calories are at least three hours before bed. I know that sounds like a bummer if you’re used to a bedtime snack. But I suggest you experiment with it. Try it for a few nights and see how you feel the next day compared to how you usually feel.
And when it comes to bedtime, if you’re going to bed at midnight, I suggest you move it up 15 minutes earlier for a few days or a week. And then move it back another 15 minutes every few days until you can get to bed around 10 pm.
You might be thinking, “That sounds wonderful, but I can’t do that. I’m the kind of person who stays up late.”
I know it can be challenging. I used to be a night owl. I stayed up late for most of my life, averaging 5-6 hours of sleep per night. It wasn’t until I became a runner and started getting up at 4 am for runs that I finally realized I needed to get to sleep earlier to feel better throughout the day.
And the significant thing to keep in mind is that sleep doesn’t just play a role in how you feel the next day, but sleep plays an essential role in your overall health and how you age.
Sleep impacts all your systems, organs, skin, and every cell. Some people consider it the fountain of youth—and with good reason!
Create a bedtime routine.
Okay, maybe you’re skipping the snack and getting to bed relatively early, but you have trouble sleeping. What can you do?
Create a bedtime routine to trigger your mind and body to know it’s time for sleep. Just like you did for your kids when they were little. You’d bathe them, put their jammies on, read them, a book, and tuck them in. All these things helped them make the transition to fall asleep.
Your bedtime routine can do the same thing.
It can include taking a bath or shower, brushing your teeth, a short yoga practice, meditation, reading, journaling, etc. You can pick one, two, or more activities. I also recommend not reading or watching anything too stimulating before bed, such as news, work emails, or suspenseful books or movies.
Don’t forget to put your phone to bed away from you too. I like to put mine in the bathroom so I won’t be tempted to look at it if I can’t sleep. Plus, if you put down devices an hour or two before bed, that can help limit the blue light that your eyes take in. Blue light messes with your circadian rhythm, keeping you up when you want to fall asleep.
These are just small things that will help your body and mind shift gears from the day’s activity to getting ready for sleep.
They’re going to help you feel better tomorrow, the next day, and a year from now.
PS Whenever you’re ready… Here are 4 ways I can help you make the shift from settling for the results you’re getting to feeling stronger and sexier than you did when you were younger!
- Get your free Food & Mood tracker. It’s excellent for noticing what you’re eating and why.
- Join other like-minded people taking control of their health in my Peace Run Yoga Facebook Group! It’s a place to share ideas, get advice, and meet others on a health journey.
- Join me for a live yoga class from the comfort of your own home. Check out the online class schedule and sign up!
- Work with me ONE-ON-ONE to step off the health rollercoaster. Send me an email with the words “I’M READY” in the subject line… tell me a little about your current health and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!