Sleep typically happens during the "kapha" time of day. At night, this occurs between 6-10pm. Kapha is naturally slow and sluggish which makes getting to bed before 10pm ideal. There are times though when we may have little kapha in our constitution, have an imbalance or are stressed, anxious or wired from earlier in the day. This means the goal then is to promote more grounding or kapha energy before bed time. Below are a few ways you can do that by adding these activities into your bedtime routine.
Start by drinking a warm cup of relaxing tea. A few soothing options: tulsi (or holy basil), lavender, ginger or chamomile. If you're feeling extra stressed or anxious, add some honey to your tea. Next, turn off your electronics, dim your lights and sip your tea slowly before drawing a warm bath. If baths aren't your thing, warm showers are just as nice.
While you're waiting for the bath to fill, lie on your back with your legs up the wall and focus on your breath. Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani), is a restorative pose which calms the mind and nervous system. Place a pillow or cushion on the belly to further bring your energy downward. You could even cover yourself with a blanket or wear an eye cover to relax the senses. Hang out here for about 5 minutes or until you're ready to hop in the bath.
After your bath or shower, practice some Abhyanga. Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic practice of daily self massage with oil. In the winter, favor warmer oils like sesame, or almond. In the Summer, try coconut. Starting at your neck and shoulders, methodically massage the oil in circles down the arms, focusing on the joints, dry areas of elbows, wrists, hands, ankles and feet. Take at least a good five minutes to massage the entire body. Abhyanga improves circulation and relaxes the muscles continually drawing energy downward. By now you should be really sleepy. No need to rinse the oil off, it will act as a protective layer and get absorbed by the skin making you extra moisturized for the day ahead.
It can seem like a lengthy process, but after you start, you'll come to look forward to taking this time to yourself. If you have trouble sleeping or relaxing at bedtime, and try this out, let me know how it goes. Or if you have any questions; comment below!