Tale as old as time, Ayurveda, the ancient healing Vedic practice that started in India over 5,000 years ago has been gaining popularity among the modern wellness set. Whether it’s a balanced diet, incorporating healing Indian herbs and elixirs, or embracing a more mindful approach, Ayurveda teaches us to slow down, nourish, and most importantly, give ourselves some TLC on the regular.
One of our favorite wellness topics at Zeel? Sleep. We believe that it is so important for our overall well-being that we created a dreamy on-demand sleep massage that calms your body so you get an ample amount of Zzzs. For more holistic sleep tips, we sat down with Laura Coburn, Ayurveda Health Counselor and Director of Serenity at the Inns of Aurora, a luxe lakeside boutique resort in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Lucky for us, Coburn loves to talk about sleep! “Sleep is one of my favorite topics in Ayurveda, and it’s so important for physical and emotional health. Good quality sleep allows our bodies and minds to finish digesting the “stuff” that has not yet been processed while we were awake. This is the time when we are healing on a cellular level. It is important to get to sleep and stay asleep,” she says.
Below, Coburn’s Ayurveda tips on how to get the best sleep of your life:
1. When To Eat
“It is best to go to bed feeling nourished but not full,” says Coburn. Timing also plays a big role in when you eat, “Try to not eat after 6:00pm but if you simply must eat later then make it light, warm and easy for your body to process, such as a broth-based soup,” explains Coburn. While winding down for bed, make yourself a warm beverage. Coburn likes warm chamomile tea, or her favorite blend which sounds like a soothing treat, “Warm milk with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ghee, and saffron.”
2. Stretch It Out
While stretching may seem like a practice to incorporate into your morning routine, Coburn loves it in the evening too. “It’s especially useful to work in some stretches for the back and hips such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated spinal twist) or Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining butterfly),” notes Coburn. Here are some of her favorite stretches:
Ardha Matsyendrasana: Sitting upright with legs extended, while elongating the spine (rooting down through the sitting bones and lifting from the back of the skull), bend one knee and draw the thigh toward the abdomen, twist towards the bent knee.
Supta Baddha Konasana: Lay back with a few pillows behind you for support. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together as the knees fall out to the side. With feet together draw them in as close to the body as is comfortable. You may wish to interlace the fingers and cup them over the toes.
3. Put Your Best Foot Forward
This is a particularly indulgent tip that our toes can get behind. “Focus on your feet. Rub them with oil (I like Banyan Botanicals Sleep Easy Oil) and tuck them into some soft and cozy socks,” says Coburn. If you want to make your own sleep oil at home, Coburn says to use sesame or coconut oil and add in a few drops of soothing essential oils like lavender or ylang-ylang.
4. Screens Off
No surprise here, unplug from all screens at least an hour before bed. “Turn off electronics and reduce stimulation in general. Speak more softly, walk slower, do less,” says Coburn. Getting into bed with a book may not even be the best idea, “Even reading can be too stimulating for some, though reading from a book or magazine is preferable to cruising the internet,” she notes.
5. Mentally Digest
Backtracking, meaning going through all the different moments of your day as you lay down is, “a way to aid mental digestion,” says Coburn. She explains, “Do this with an intention to release each event and put them to bed as well.”
6. Bed Time
No night owls here, Coburn says it is best to be in bed by 10 PM, this is “ before the energy of Pitta (fire) starts to rise.” She explains, “Staying up later causes you to catch that late-night “second wind,” which squanders the digestive fire and does not allow for healing.”
7. Once in Bed
You’ve made it! It turns out, the angles in which you are laying down can impact your sleep. If you are a side sleeper, Coburn suggest “tucking your chin slightly and supporting your head at an angle. Imagine if there were a beam of light emanating from the crown of your head you would aim it at 15 degrees on the horizon. That’s the angle.” One more in bed tip, “ You could also put a pillow between your legs from your knees to your feet. This soft support takes the pressure off the hips,” says Coburn.
Micaela English started her career in magazines at Lucky magazine, Men's Health and Women's Health. She then went on to spend six years working at TOWN & COUNTRY, first on the print staff and then helping the brand launch its digital footprint online as its senior web editor. Her work has appeared in Well+Good, Instyle, Architectural Digest and Marie Claire. Visit her web site at micaelaenglish.com and her profile on LinkedIn.