“Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds. Sleep, the main course in life's feast, and the most nourishing.”-William Shakespeare
The beloved author of A Midsummer Night’s Dream surely knew a thing or two about sleep. He had it right that a good night’s sleep is the medicine that heals our hearts and bodies. It nurtures our natural beauty. It even takes up about ⅓ of our blessed lives!
At the same time, it can also be most elusive for the anxious mind. Counting sheep isn’t always enough to attain and maintain good sleep.
In the Part II of our “Routines + Rituals” series, we’re sharing our inspiration for treating sleep prep as a sacred ceremony.
These rituals – the art of living that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary – are grounding practices that calm the mind-body-spirit. While Your Magic Morning is designed to gently build up your fire, we’ve crafted Your Essential Evening to smoothly bring that fire back down to Earth.
From the circadian rhythm and herbal care to Yoga and meditation, we’ve got you covered in the covers for a good night’s sleep!
We can think of the circadian rhythm as the magical internal cuckoo clock. She starts chirping when it’s time to wake up and closes the doors when it’s time to sleep.
Just like real birdies, she naturally arises with the Sun and goes to sleep when it sets. But, modern schedules don’t really allow us to go to bed at sunset as humans once naturally did.
Most traditional forms of bodily knowledge understand this. An Ayurvedic vaidya (physician) would advise us to curl up 9:00-10:00pm, within the Kapha evening hours associated with the Earth.
Chinese Medicine teachings also suggest winding down by 9:00pm, as this begins the Triple Heater (endocrine system) hours when the body’s vital hormones are replenished for the next day.
For optimal sleep, we propose starting to wind down your clock by 9:00pm and returning to your cuckoo’s nest by 10:00-11:00pm.
To begin your magical evening wind-down begin by turning your phone off. Electronics have a significant impact on our eyesight, spleen function, and circadian cycle! We recommend hitting the “off” button 1 hour before hitting the hay.
These are our favorite nighttime herbs. You can find them as capsules at most nature shops or drink them as loose-leaf teas.
We recommend if you are to drink them as teas, do so at least 1 hour before bedtime – to prevent midnight trips to the bathroom.
- Valerian Root – mild sedative for the brain and nervous system
- Ashwagandha – adaptogen and stress reliever
- Chamomile – calms anxiety and settles stomachs
- Skullcap – reduces anxiety and mental chatter
- Lavender – relieves stress, chronic pain, and high blood pressure
***Before you stock up on herbs, check in with a doctor first to determine the best options for you***
Working with oils that promote relaxation sends a powerful message to our brains that “it's time to rest.”
- Spray some Aromatherapy Body Mist on your pajamas
- Roll your Root Chakra Pulse Point Roller onto your wrists
- Put a drop of lavender, vetiver, sage, or rosemary behind your ears or on the bottoms of your feet (to soothe the kidney meridian according to Chinese medicine)
Soak in Them
An herbal bath is an aromatherapeutic marvel that has the added benefit of detoxifying muscles, improving circulation, and soothing the nervous system.
For a luxurious Epsom salt bath to promote sleep, you’ll need:
- 2 cups Epsom salts
- 6 drops grounding essential oil
- A handful of lavender, chamomile, or any of your favorite night-time herbs
Hatha Yoga literally means Sun (Ha) and Moon (Tha). While a more fiery pratice can build our energy up, we can also align with the more subtle, chilled-out forces of the Moon.
This is what Yin Yoga is all about. Yin is the feminine force associated with Earth, the Moon, darkness, and receptivity. Practicing some Yin asanas right before bed can work wonders to ground down to Earth, welcome the darkness of night, and invite sleep.
The 3 Tattvas (Principles) of Yin Yoga are:
- Come into the pose at an appropriate depth (don’t overstretch)
- Resolve to remain still for 2+ minutes
- Take full, deep breaths throughout the pose
Some grounding sleepytime poses are:
Let your mind be totally present to the breath. Treat each pose as a meditation to receive the full benefit.
Pranayama – Breathing Exercise
The key to good sleep is nervous system regulation. This means taking yourself out of fight-or-flight mode in order to feel safe and secure enough to surrender into those Delta waves.
Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is a Yogic breathing technique that’s designed to do just this.
- Sit with your legs crossed.
- Place your left hand on your knee and your right thumb against your nose.
- Exhale fully and then close the right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril.
- Open your right nostril and exhale through it, while closing the left.
- Finish by exhaling through your left nostril.
These steps constitute one round. Complete an even number of rounds until you feel a sense of calm wash over you. Keep your breath even, slow. and gentle.
Meditation - Yoga Nidra
Before sleep, Yoga Nidra (the Yoga of Sleep) is the ultimate surrender into the magic of the evening. Yoga Nidra is practiced in Shivasana (lying down). It moves through all the layers of the mind-body complex to reach the Atman (True Self).
It’s a scenic route from Beta, to Alpha, to Delta wave states – all while remaining completely conscious. It is known to release serotonin, balance hormones, and regulate the nervous system. And, like the name suggest, help with sleep!
Yoga Nidra is a complex practice with many different techniques. But we find that simple is effective!
If you sleep with a partner, you might try this together.
- Lie down in a comfortable position, with a pillow under your head and knees. *Don’t practice in bed, as you want to remain awake for this practice.
- Let your breath become natural, yet slow and even.
- In your mind’s eye, give a thorough, leisurely body scan from the feet toward the head.
- Feel any large or subtle sensations as they arise. Just notice them.
- With complete acceptance of each sensation, come to the Heart of the Self where stillness reigns supreme.
Surrendering into this stillness, gently make your way to the realm of dreams. Know that the stars shine above you, the Earth holds you…you are in a safe, protected space to fully rest.
Let us know your successes and challenges in your evening ritual! Reach out to share your results and inspirations with us!