13 Oct AYURVEDA TIPS – OCTOBER
Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary labourer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life's feast, and the most nourishing. - William Shakespeare, Macbeth
THE REJUVENATIVE POWERS OF GOOD QUALITY SLEEP
We spend a 1/3 of our lives asleep. It is during this time that mind and body rest, repair, heal and rejuvenate, it is fundamental to optimum health and wellbeing.
Sleep is a huge topic because as many as 1 in 3 adults suffer from insomnia in Great Britain and in the U.S. Whenever you have experienced insomnia, or difficulty getting to, or staying asleep, you will know the impact this has on you the next day. Feeling sluggish and groggy, finding it hard to focus and concentrate, lacking in energy, drive and motivation, feeling moody and cranky. It’s just not a great way to try and get through the day, with all the usual demands required of you.
Research shows that good quality sleep:
- strengthens our immune system
- helps the body remove toxins, heal and repair
- clears the mind of unwanted thoughts and emotions
- enhances our mood
- reduces illness and heart disease
Lack of good quality sleep:
- lowers our resilience to stress,
- depletes the nervous system and life-force energy
- weakens the immune system making us susceptible to colds and flu.
Research also shows, that the main cause of sleep dysfunction is what we do from 8pm onwards.
- engaging in social media
- Eating late
- Staying up late
- watching the news
emails and working lat
- stress and worrying thoughts
When we are out of sync with the circadian rhythms, such as eating past 8pm in the evening and going to bed past 10.30pm at night, we start to go into “digest and sleep debt”. And although we may feel fundamentally tired, we start to get second wind, as cortisol levels continue to rise instead of decreasing. If we eat late, It’s like we are stealing the energy that would go into detoxing and replenishing the liver, gallbladder, spleen and kidney, by making it work hard to digest the food that we’ve put into the system. This can interfere with sleep patterns and raise blood sugar levels unnecessarily.
The Magic of Melatonin
Melatonin is a chemical messenger that the body naturally produces, it is considered to be the body’s natural sleep hormone. Released by the pineal gland just as the sun goes down, it helps us shift from a waking state, towards rest making us feel sleepy, through regulating circadian rhythms. As melatonin is released cortisol levels lower.
It has been found that melatonin has antioxidant properties, it is an effective “scavenger” that detoxifies the body one cell at a time and takes place in the eyes, bone marrow, brain, digestive and reproductive organs. It protects brain tissue and guards the nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This essential detoxification process occurs at night when we sleep, so if we are having trouble with getting to and/or staying asleep for the good quality sleep we need, this starts to impact on our vital energy.
When cortisol levels are high, melatonin levels are low, which is absolutely fine in the day when we need more energy, but when cortisol is elevated in the evening, it turns off melatonin production making it more difficult to feel sleepy and to fall asleep. The impact on our internal chemistry, as it disrupts our hormonal cycles, creating imbalance. Once this starts to happen it negatively impacts all bodily systems, such as digestion, blood circulation, breathing, the nervous, immune and reproductive systems.
The importance of Sleep and Brain Detoxification
We need good quality sleep to drain the brain of toxins and maintain brain health. Maiken Nedergaard, a Neurology researcher was awarded the Nordic Fernström Prize in 2018 for her revolutionary discovery of the brain’s own cleaning system, the glymphatic system. This is a way for the brain to get rid of spent proteins and harmful waste products. This occurs as we sleep.
So it is really important that we align ourselves with nature, eating and sleeping at the optimum times, so we can access the capacity for our bodies to digest, rest and repair, just as nature intended.
Yoga & Ayurveda Workshop: Better Sleep
I have a workshop on Sunday 16th October 2022 dedicated to the topic of improving sleep. We will cover Ayurvedic herbs and herbal teas, Essential oils, practice breathing meditations and Yin Yoga to prepare the body for sleep and finish with a calming and relaxing sound bath. You can book your place here.
Preparing for a good night’s sleep can be very instrumental in actually having a good night’s sleep.
Yoga, meditation, breathwork and natural holistic therapies, such as Aromatherapy is recognised by scientists to be Mind-Body medicine. All of these natural forms of healing are conducive to a good night’s sleep.
A few Sleep Prep Tips
- Have a hot bath/shower and relax with some soothing essential oils, such as Rose geranium, Lavender, Pettigrain, Orange
- Practice a few yoga poses for 5 minutes each to help relax, such as Child’s Pose, Legs Up, Side lying Savasana.
- Drink a night-time tea or milk with Turmeric that calms and nourishes the nervous system.
- Sit/lie down in bed and practice 5 minutes of connected breathing. Inhaling for an internal count of 4, pausing and exhaling for an internal count of 6.