How I Created the Perfect Mixture for a Sleepless Night

john-ruddock-459429-unsplashA Sleepless Night. It doesn’t happen to me very often — maybe just once or twice a year — but here is my account, from the Ayurvedic perspective, of how I created the perfect mixture for a night sans actual sleep.

Too Much Exercise
Yesterday seemed like a great day to go to the gym in the morning and then go to yoga class in the afternoon. However, as I lay in bed last night unable to sleep I started to rethink my decision. According to the Ayurvedic clock, there are ideal times of the day to exercise, both of them being during the Kapha time of day. 6:00 – 10:00 am and pm. Because I have some Kapha tendencies in my physiology, mainly that I love food and sleep like a bear (about 364 nights a year), doing some cardio in the morning is a great way for me to get going. I keep it simple with 20 minutes on an elliptical machine two times a week. This is the perfect amount of exercise for me for a day. However, I’ve been trying to get back into going to public yoga classes and practicing with a group of yogis so I decided to go to a Vinyasa class after work around 5:00pm. Which is, according to the Ayurvedic clock, Vata time of the day… but leaning towards when that Kapha time rolls back around. But the fact that I had a pretty stimulating morning exercising, and a busy work day should have signaled me to attend a Yin, Restorative, or Yoga Nidra class — but I opted for stimulating Vinyasa instead. Lesson learned.

+ Heavy Meal
As the sun sets on the planet, our internal fire (digestive fire) also begins to set. Ayurveda recommends eating the main meal of the day at lunchtime and favoring a light easily-digestible dinner. (Something like a small amount of rice with cooked seasonal vegetables and spices or a vegetable soup.) And if you are going to indulge in a rich, sweet dessert — have it at lunchtime as well, when the digestive fire is at its peak. I tend to follow these recommendations as I have sensitive digestion and have learned well over the years how to support it. However, last night, I opted for a bounty of rich coconut milk Vegetable Korma and naan at my favorite Indian Restaurant. And I ate to my full potential. I was not uncomfortably full afterward, but I had my fill. Since my digestive fire was lower at the time I had my Indian food bounty — my body was attempting to digest my heavy meal while I should have been sleeping last night. Another strike on the sleepless night board.

+ High Vibration Activities
In the evenings before bed, Ayurveda recommends that we slowly and gently wind our bodies down. This can be done by dimming the lights around the house (mimicking nature), turning off electronics, and keeping the stimulating activities to a minimum. So this means if you love to watch a movie before bed, favor a light-hearted funny or romantic film as opposed to a violent or action film — and definitely avoid the evening news. :)

I’m usually quite good about this, however, my partner and I just received a new mallet for our 28″ Symphonic Gong that we just had to play with last night. It was 9:00pm and we were both playing the gong. Now, the gong can be very soothing and grounding if played in that way. (Side note: playing the upper part of the gong can be very stimulating to the player and listener whereas the lower part of the gong has the opposite effect.) The entire gong was played at all ranges in my house late last night. The effect? A vibration of the central nervous system, which can be very stimulating.

+ Buring the Midnight Oil
After playing and listening to the gong, I decided it was a great idea to catch up on some work that I wasn’t able to finish during the day. So there I was at 10:00pm on my computer, receiving the light that it gives off (decreasing Melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone), and revving up my brain trying to finish a meticulous project instead of winding down getting ready for a good night’s sleep.

= Sleepless Night
After all of my high vibration activities yesterday and last night, I settled in for the deep sleep that my body desperately needed, but as soon as I laid down, I was fully awake. And I stayed fully awake until I decided to get out of bed at 6:45am this morning.

Ok, ok, big lessons learned here. After work today, I’ll opt for some simple Restorative Yoga (in which I will probably fall asleep), a simple, light dinner, a walk after dinner (which supports digestion and serves as a gentle way to exercise) and some low vibration activities which do not include playing the gong or working on my computer.

Sweet dreams out there, everyone!

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