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Ayurvedic Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Ayurvedic Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Why sleep is so important

Sleep plays a very important role in our health along with eating healthy and exercising regularly. It influences very much how emotionally stable, mentally clear and physical fit we are. A good night’s sleep gives our body the possibility to begin its night-shift work. During sleep our body can heal damaged cells, strengthen our immune system and recharge our heart, cardiovascular and nervous system for the next day. Deep and sufficient sleep is one of the keys to long-term health and the basis for a functioning immune system. 

Ayurveda and sleep

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine, contains a lot of wisdom for a life in balance, including restful sleep.

Ayurveda is about harmony and balance, especially the balance between the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They also play an important role in our sleep. At what time we go to bed, what we do before and after bedtime, and of course what and when we eat. This all influences our bioenergies, and thus contributes to a healthy sleep. 

The role of the Doshas in your sleep rhythm

From an Ayurvedic point of view, sleep is the most important regeneration phase of the day. Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. our Pitta energy wants to clean the body, picking up the dirt from the furthest corners. Then between 2 and 6 a.m. our Vata energy is very active, transporting the dirt and toxins to the excreting organs. The most important prerequisite for this cleansing process is that the digestion of the last meal is finished before 10pm.

That’s why it is important to have an early light dinner, at least three hours before you to bed. If this is not the case, the body sets the priorities differently and focuses on digestion. As a result, our whole system powers up instead of shutting it down for sleep and cleansing. Consequently, we don’t get tired so quickly, we fall asleep more difficult and may wake up at night and get up in the morning exhausted. 

Apart from the last meal, our general lifestyle also has an impact on our sleep. Every sleep problem arises from the fact that there is too much movement, too much Vata, in our internal system. Consequently the body does not find its way deep enough into the relaxation mode. An overactive sympathetic nervous system means too much movement or Vata that is caused by stress, lack of time and an unsteady lifestyle. If we snack between dishes, do everything differently today than yesterday, don’t get enough sleep, travel a lot and eat foods that elevate Vata, we may not fall asleep and, above all, not sleep through the night.

When we take a look at the different Doshas, we see a Vata imbalance tending to sleep irregular and light. They often wake up between 2 – 6am, but when very exhausted can profoundly sleep. Whereas Pittas sleep can be disturbed by vivid and active dreams or nightmares and difficulties to fall asleep as their mind is too busy. When Pittas wake up, they normally go back to sleep easily. However, Kapha types are generally good sleepers but when out of balance, they sleep too long which makes them sluggish and heavy.

Do you want a better and more aligned life to achieve deeply desired results? A life with more energy, a peaceful mind, and habits that go toward lifelong health and wellness? Discover my health and lifestyle program Embody to Thrive

How can the Ayurvedic way of life be beneficial for our sleep?

The most important keys points are a steady rhythm, diet and stress reduction. The optimal rhythm from an Ayurvedic point of view is three meals at similar times on most days, with the main meal at lunch and a light, early dinner. Of course, it is incredibly valuable to adjust the diet so that we can find a balance based on our constitution. It is also recommended that you go to bed and get up at similar times each day.

But we should also adjust our daily work and stress levels. Stress, regardless of what caused it, lets our nervous system run in a mode that is actually only intended to protect us in dangerous situations. But if we often feel tense, agitated and rushed, we prevent the part of our nervous system that is responsible for regeneration, metabolism and sleep from doing its job.

As a result, we may have permanent elevated cortisol levels, our stress hormone, that can lead to anxiety, hormonal imbalances, increased appetite, obesity and other issues. That is why in Ayurveda we not only focus on nutrition and lifestyle, but also on meditation, yoga and other methods of stress reduction. Therefore the Ayurveda approach is holistic and matched with ones unique constitution.

ayurvedic food for sleep

How diet affects your sleep

The most important tip is to move the main meal to noon and eat it lightly and early in the evening. From an Ayurvedic point of view, early and light means before 7 p.m. and with little fat and protein and not too complex in the composition. Raw vegetables should also be eaten at lunchtime. This is very contrary to some modern-day opinions, but it works. Soups, stews or vegetables, perhaps with a little grain, are ideal for the evening. Especially one-pot meals are easy for our metabolism.

In order to have an early and light evening meal, of course we need to have a good lunch, otherwise we are too hungry. Since the body has the strongest digestive fire at lunchtime – also from a conventional medical point of view – we can digest it well at that time. From an Ayurvedic point of view, our lunch should not consist of a small salad or a sandwich on hand, but of a healthy and rich meal in which we satisfy our fat and protein needs. Interestingly, after such a meal, we are hardly hungry in the evening and can easily get through the night with a small supper until breakfast in the morning. And the body thanks us with a deep and restful sleep.

What helps if we have difficulty falling asleep?

The easiest way for the body to fall asleep is when it is relaxed and not struggling with a heavy meal. Ayurveda recommends establishing an evening routine that automates this process. Everything that prevents falling asleep needs to be reduced: Screen time or very exciting books, an extremely high pace during the day, in the worst case until late in the evening, keep us awake. The thoughts are circling in our head and our energy is moving too much. After an early light dinner it is ideal to enjoy the time with loved ones, to go for a walk or to take a bath. But any other non-digital hobby like writing a diary, drawing, perform handicraft works, is great too.

An important factor is the time we go to bed. Kapha energy is dominant until 10 p.m. The energy of Kapha helps us to wind down and to notice the first signs of end-of-the-day fatigue. Its energy is heavy, steady and calm and perfect for preparing ourselves for better quality rest and a peaceful min. From 10 p.m. the Pitta energy takes over the lead. This energy rises and makes us active and mental busy. Ayurveda therefore recommends going to sleep during the Kapha time, this means before 10 p.m. It makes a big difference for our quality and quantity of sleep.

In addition, the following tools are extremely valuable to help us to come to rest: Gentle yoga exercises that ground and bring our energy down such as Yin Yoga, slow pranayamas such as alternate nostril breathing or meditation. Otherwise, it is recommended to massage the feet with warm sesame oil and an essential oil like Lavender. This also help to descend the energy in our body. And finally, the golden milk or turmeric milk (also made with plant milk) should be mentioned, which make it easier for us to fall asleep.

Are there specific sleeping tips for the individual Doshas?

In addition to the tips for Vata and Pitta that are already mentioned, the duration of sleep is also crucial. Vata needs the most sleep of all. They are not doing well without the mandatory eight hours. With a lot of stress, maybe even more. The eight hours are perfect for pitta, even if they usually don’t like it because they have so much to do.

Less sleep is recommended for Kapha only. Kapha usually has no problems falling asleep and sleeps well through the night. However, they find it difficult to get up. So it is important for them to get up before 6 a.m. As mentioned, the Vata movement principle is dominant between 2 and 6 o’clock in the morning. This movement gets us up more easily. But from 6 a.m. Kapha takes over again. And this energy makes it very difficult for us to get out of bed. With Kapha there is also the fact that a maximum of 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep is better and more relaxing than a longer sleep. This makes them too heavy and sluggish.

Do you want to learn more about your unique constitution, your Dosha? Take the quiz here

BONUS: Yoga and meditation videos for better sleep

Yoga Nidra Tibetan Singing Bowls Sound Bath for Anxiety Relief & Relaxation

Yoga For Bedtime – YUMMY sleepy time yoga with Adriene

A guided meditation for sleep from Deepak Chopra

What is Craniosacral Therapy? What are the benefits of it?

What is Craniosacral Therapy? What are the benefits of it?

Craniosacral therapy: What it is

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a subtle, profound body work that balances and harmonizes all levels of a human being. It is an alternative manual treatment that has its origins in osteopathy.

Craniosacral therapy describes the functional unit between “cranium” (skull) and “sacrum”. From top to bottom, both are connected to each other via the spine. The skull and the spine are lined on the inside with membranes. Furthermore, these form the brain and spinal cord skins. It contains the cerebrospinal fluid, which flows around the brain and spinal cord and is in a permanent rhythmic pulsation. Most importantly, it serves as a shock absorber for the protection of our nervous system.

Secondly, and very important, the craniosacral system “CSS” maintains close relationships with the nervous, vascular and lymphatic systems. Moreover, it is connected to the hormonal, respiratory, muscular and skeletal systems. Not to mention that disease or dysfunction can affect the rhythmic harmony and flow of the craniosacral rhythm as well. Equally, disorders within the system can inevitably have serious and often damaging effects on all bodily systems.

What happens during a craniosacral therapy session?

During the treatment, which lasts about one hour, the patient lies relaxed on the massage table. At the beginning of the session the craniosacral therapist usually senses different parts of the body with gentle pressure of 2 – 20 grams. With the aim of receiving information about the harmony, uniformity and quality of the craniosacral rhythm. Given that, we use gentle techniques to resolve those obstacles in the system.

The goal of craniosacral therapy is the integration of body, soul and spirit. This can be achieved by promoting self-healing through self-correction within the body. Over and above that, it stimulates the blood circulation and relaxes the nervous system.

What conditions does craniosacral therapy treat?

The craniosacral system is closely related to all other systems in the body. As a result, by balancing or harmonising the craniosacral rhythm we can always affect the whole body. For this reason, the following list is a small selection of possible applications:

  • Chronic and acute pain conditions
  • Spinal and joint disorders
  • Disc problems
  • Shock, emotional and physical traumas
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Hearing and vision disorders / tinnitus
  • Stress
  • Mental disorders
  • Depression / Burnout
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep disorders
  • Autism

https://www.upledger.com/autism/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28167177

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

https://www.upledger.com/ptsd

  • Headaches and Migraines

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00665236

This is a great video explaining the Upledger approach to Craniosacral Therapy

History of Craniosacral Therapy

When we look at the history of craniosacral therapy, there are three people that need to be honoured and mentioned in order to understand the evolution of this powerful therapy.

Founder of Osteopathy

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still founded osteopathy. His basic principles of osteopathy are still today the basis for understanding the work of osteopathy and craniosacral therapy. Essentially important to him were the following conjectures:

  • The body is seen as an interconnected unit.
  • The body has the ability to regulate itself.
  • Structures and functions of the tissues are in mutual relation.

In 1892 he founded the American School of Osteopathy to transmit his vast knowledge. One of his most important guiding principles to his students was: “Find it, fix it and leave it alone.”

Founder of Craniosacral Osteopathy

One of his students was William Garner Sutherland was deeply fascinated by the anatomy of the skull with all its bones and sutures. His profound research found that pressure applied to different parts of the skull leads to certain emotional states and physical symptoms.

If not making progress with his work he remained in a state of silence to find further impulses and answers to advance his work. That´s why his motto to his students was “Dig on”.  With that, he emphasised that motivation, persistence and patience are needed when working with craniosacral osteopathy.

Founder of techniques of Craniosacral Therapy

The techniques we see today during craniosacral therapy are mostly to honour Dr. John E. Upledger. Resulting from an operation on the dura mater he experienced the craniosacral rhythm and henceforth began a serious study of the writings of Sutherland. In addition, he also did scientific tests using laser to show the movements of the meninges of the skull.

During the years he accomplished his work by the development of the somato-emotional-release. This evolution resulted in a technique that helps the patient to release traumas in a safe container.

His publications and teachings made the craniosacral therapy worldwide known. Today, his school is the leading school for training craniosacral therapists.

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Do you sometimes have problems falling asleep? Do you feel restless and agitated especially in the evening and when going to bed? Maybe you suffer from spontaneous sweating during the day or night. Wheat berry tea can be a great help when used as a supportive, alternative and natural remedy to ease these symptoms.

Wheat berry properties according to TCM

In Chinese medicine, wheat berry tea is refreshing, cooling and moistening because it replenishes the heart Qi and calms the mind. It tonifies the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys by cooling down, alleviating thirst and strengthening superficies to control sweating.

Temperature: cool
Taste: sweet, slightly salty
Affected meridian: heart, kidneys, spleen
Effective direction: descending

Effective for treating:

– Sleeping disorders due to Blood deficiency* and Yin deficiency*
– Spontaneous sweating due to Qi deficiency*
– Night sweats and hot flashes due to Yin deficiency*
– Postpartum deficiency sweats
– Bed wetting in children
– Emotional instabilities
– Palpitations
– Irritability

Recipe
1/2 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)

Simmer 30 minutes, remove the wheat grains and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

Attention: Don’t drink with gluten intolerance.

Tip: It is important to drink the tea for several weeks if the symptoms have been present for some time. It takes time to rebuild the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys, but after some time you will feel calmer and more grounded, less prone to sweating and have a deeper and more restful sleep.

When to avoid wheat berry tea

As wheat berries have a very cooling effect, you should only drink it in combination with liquorice and red dates when suffering from:

– Yang deficiency*
– Dampness*
– Diarrhoea
– Sensitivity to cold

Herbal tea mixture

The Chinese herbal mixture of wheat berries combined with liquorice root and red dates harmonizes the center and supports digestion, strengthens the heart and soothes the mind. In addition, it helps to ease tension and stress, melancholy, worry and hyperactivity. It helps exhausted women after a tiring birth and calms babies who cry frequently at night.

Recipe
1 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)
5 pieces of liquorice root (Gan Cao)
2 red dates (Da Zao)

Simmer the wheat berries for 50 minutes and add the liquorice and red dates for another 10 minutes. Then remove the herbs and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

You can find these Chinese herbs online and in Chinese herbal stores. Some I can recommend are:

France: Calebasse

Germany: Zietenapotheke

Netherlands – shop that ships all over Europe: Shenzhou

If you are suffering from sleeping disorders and heart palpitations, take a look at my article:
Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine can help

*Yin deficiency symptoms:

– Dry throat and/or mouth, esp. at night
– Dry eyes and skin
– Night sweats, hot flashes
– Tinnitus
– Dizziness, vertigo
– Insomnia
– Tongue: no coating, colour red

*Blood deficiency symptoms:
– Dull or pale complexion
– Extreme fatigue
– Headaches, migraines
– Feels easily hurt and stressed
– Brittle nails
– Poor memory and difficulty focusing
– Feeling of disembodiment
– Infertility
– Depression

*Yang deficiency symptoms:
– Slow metabolism
– Cold body and limbs
– Low motivation and assertiveness
– Clamminess of the skin
– Shortness of breath
– No desire to talk
– Water retention possible

*Dampness symptoms:
– Water retention
– Cellulite
– Overweight
– Heavy head
– Cloudy head
– Feels sleepy and sluggish
– Poor digestion
– Cravings for sweets
– Acne, eczema, psoriasis
– Dull headache
– Yellow eyes and skin
– Plenty of vaginal discharge

References

Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, Inc. 2009. Print.

„Das 5-Elemente-Kochbuch von Barbara Temelie und Beatrice Trebuth“ (Joy-Verlag)

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine Can Help

Do you feel restless in the evening and have difficulties falling asleep? Do you maybe feel anxious, dizzy and get easily scared? Then it could be possible that you suffer from a heart blood deficiency.

Traditional Chinese medicine can help alleviate the symptoms through the use of acupuncture and herbal treatments. However, by examining our diets and eliminating some of the culprits whilst increasing the intake of foods that benefit the heart can lead to a renewed healthier physical state.

The heart is considered as the emperor of the body which hosts the spirit also called « Shen ». According to the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”—the oldest known writings in Chinese medicine—the strength of the Shen is fundamental to good health: “If Shen is strong, the body will be strong; if we lose Shen, the body will perish.” Spirit and Shen are closely linked. For example the spirit can be disturbed by extreme emotions, negative and positive ones and then disturbs the Shen.

Besides treating this condition at my TCM practice with acupuncture and herbs, it is essential to change nutrition and life style habits to attain and maintain a healthy state again. What are the symptoms and reasons for this condition? Which foods can improve it?

The symptoms of a heart blood deficiency

  • Palpitations (more pronounced in the evening)
  • Problems to fall asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory
  • Mild anxiety
  • Dream disturbed sleep
  • Easily startled
  • Tiredness, exhaustion
  • Scanty or absent periods (amenorrhoea)
  • Paleness

The reasons which lead to it

  • Consuming spicy foods regularly
  • Eating too less and nutrient-poor foods
  • Having too much meat, especially deep-fried and grilled
  • Constant stress and pressure of time
  • Drinking too much alcohol and black tea
  • Smoking
  • Chronic diseases
  • Severe blood loss e.g. childbirth, after an operation, etc.
  • Chronic worry and anxiety disturbs the shen
  • Dietary insufficiencies and over-thinking which causes spleen qi deficiency that can cause blood deficiency

The foods that help

For the successful treatment of a heart blood deficiency it is important to avoid everything what harms the heart (see above under reasons) and to eat the right foods.

Foods that benefit the heart

  • Endive
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Egg yellow
  • Oats
  • All kinds of berries
  • Dates
  • Black olives
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Beetroot
  • Parsley
  • Octopus, oyster and sardines
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Mung beans
  • Wheat berry

It takes some time to rebuild heart blood and it is necessary to eat these food regularly and adapted to the season. To strengthen your heart and to support the process you should focus on maintaining a positive outlook, practicing benevolence and compassion, getting enough rest, seeking peace and tranquility, meditating and going out in nature.

 

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.