Are you having trouble sleeping lately?

I’ve noticed that many of my clients are have difficulty falling asleep and then staying asleep.

Sadly, far too many people rely on sleeping pills to remedy their situation before trying a more holistic approach.

While there’s always a chance insomnia can suggest the presence of other disorders and diseases, most of the time it’s temporary and we just need to wait it out and apply a few remedies in the meantime.

Let me share with you a few Ayurvedic remedies that have helped me tremendously when I experience either difficulty falling or staying asleep.

– First, aim to be in bed by 10 pm. There are three master cycles or rhythms in each day. If you go to bed around this time, your body is under the daily cycle that has the qualities of heavy, slow and stable which are supportive of sleep. If you miss this window, the next cycle is a more active fiery cycle that can make falling asleep more challenging.

– Take a warm bath and add a few drops of lavender, which is useful for relaxation. After you towel off, massage some warm almond or sesame oil into your body paying particular attention to your feet. Then put on some warm cotton socks. I’ve found it’s almost impossible to sleep with cold feet.

– There are two marma points (similar to acupuncture points that correspond to the seven chakras or energy centers of the body.) Apply gentle pressure on each side of the temples with alternating clockwise and counterclockwise circular movements for a few minutes.

– Ayurveda considers the herbs Jatamamsi, Ashwagandha, Brahmi and Chamomile useful for promoting sound, deep sleep and relaxation. They are all good choices to try, but my personal favorite is Jatamamsi which is also known as Spikenard .The effects of Jatamamsi are similar to those of valerian root, but Valerian can have a dulling mental effect, while Jatamamsi allows your brain to think more clearly and function more efficiently. I’ve found Banyan Botanicals http://www.banyanbotanicals.com and Organic India http://www.organicindia.com to be the best brands.

– Avoid eating heavy meals. Ideally the last meal should be light, but warm and grounding. Soups or stews are perfect this time of year.  Food should be taken no later than 8pm as it’s difficult to fall asleep if all your energy is tied up with digestion. Yes, digestion takes energy and can lower your quality of sleep.

– Another method that I’ve just recently learned about is to drink “walnut milk” 30-45 minutes prior to bedtime. Walnuts are said to be the richest dietary source of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that promotes feelings of relaxation and well-being.

You can make a sleep-inducing walnut “serotonin shake” simply by blending 1/8 to 1/4 cup of walnuts with an equal amount of milk about 30-45 minutes before bedtime. For even greater benefits you can include a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds and/or raw sunflower seeds, and a tablespoon of lecithin granules and a dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Aim to keep the finished mixture to around 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

If all this fails, just lay quietly in bed with your eyes closed and an awareness of your body while repeating the mantra “deep sleep” to yourself. The worst thing you can do is worry that you won’t be able to function well the next day, which only creates more anxiety. You body can rest and repair itself while resting quietly. Keep practicing the above recommendations and never resign yourself to insomnia even if you’ve had it for years.