Sleep is a super power. Whilst we may be unaware of it, there is a factory of biological and chemical processes going on in our body while we sleep – cells are rejuvenated, muscles repaired, hormones and proteins released and immunity-building chemicals circulated in the blood. In addition, old information is cleared out from the brain, and our minds are rejuvenated.
Our ability to sleep well has a huge impact on our mental and physical wellbeing, and our ability to function well in the world.
We often hear about the importance of going to bed at the same time each night, cutting out the evening caffeine and keeping our bedroom well ventilated. But what else can we do?
Here are 8 tips to ensure we get the best night's sleep possible.
Vastufy your Bedroom
The ancient science of Vastu can help you create harmony in your bedroom so that it is conducive to the best possible night’s sleep. It suggests having plain or light colored bedding, and avoiding large geometrical patterns and dark colors.
It is recommended to move electronic gadgets out of the bedroom, or at least turn them off one hour before sleep to avoid radiation that could disturb your mind. If there is a TV screen, mirror or any reflective surface in the bedroom, it is best to cover it while you are sleeping. Ensure that any mirrors don’t face the bed – Vastu says we should avoid seeing our own reflection while sleeping or while waking up from sleep.
You can download the vastufy app to get a ‘score’ for your bedroom and other rooms in your home, based on the placement and direction of each of your rooms according to the Vastu principles. Practical remedies then guide you to improve your score by maximizing the potential of natural energies and combating the flaws.
Feel Grateful at Bedtime
Very often as we are going to sleep our mind is occupied by the tough and unpleasant things we are facing in our life – the comment someone made that we didn’t like, the way we should have responded in that conversation, or the frictions at home or at work.
But how about if, before bed, you consciously feel grateful for all you have, rather than letting your mind drift to thoughts of lack and negativity? Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “You sow the seeds, and they grow. If the seed itself is a seed of lack, only lack will grow. Open your eyes and see what you have been given! In that gratefulness, everything grows, life grows.”
Scientific studies have shown that feeling grateful helps us fall asleep quicker, and leads to longer, more refreshing sleep. So at bedtime think of or write down the things in your life you are grateful for – people you love, moments of joy, little and big things that inspire you – and feel the gratitude in your heart as you lie down and close your eyes.
Remember, whatever you are grateful for, grows!
Wash Your Feet Before Sleep
Washing your feet with water before bed is clean and hygienic, but it is also much more than that. Astrologically, the 12th house is connected to our feet, as well as to our sleep. The planet Venus is connected to the water element and gets exalted or becomes supremely powerful when in the natural 12th house of Pisces, which represents water or the ocean. So washing the feet is like bringing Venus into Pisces, thus coming into an exalted state, and is responsible for giving you good sleep and other positive effects of the 12th house.
According to Ayurveda, feet are connected with the fire element, so just taking off your shoes and washing your feet can cool the body down and regulate the body’s temperature, which also helps you sleep restfully.
Breathe to Rest Deeply
Stress is one of the primary reasons for insomnia, so breathing practices that calm the mind can help us have a deep and nourishing sleep. An easy way is by taking a few long, deep breaths before going to sleep. We can also practise Alternate Nostril Breathing, known as ‘Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.’ This technique helps calm the racing mind down by purifying the Nadis, or energy channels, in the subtle body.
To do this, sit comfortably with your legs crossed, spine straight, with your left hand resting on your left knee, palm facing upwards. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril, keeping the middle and index finger straight and pointing up towards your forehead, and exhale completely from the left. Then inhale through your left nostril, close the left nostril with your ring finger, open the right nostril and exhale through the right. Next, inhale through the right nostril, close this nostril, open the left nostril and exhale through the left side. This is one cycle. Practice this for 2-3 minutes and complete the practice by exhaling on the left side, and ease into normal breathing. Then stretch your legs and lie down.
You may also wish to play Yoga Nidra or the Vedic Body Scan on the Sattva Meditation and Mantras app. This process is done lying down and guides you into a deep yogic sleep.
Invoke the Sleeping Form of Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu, the Maintainer, is believed to sleep in a cosmic ocean of milk, the bed he sleeps on being his serpent Anantha-Sesha. This sleeping form of Vishnu is known as Padmanabha.
Chanting the mantra for this form of Lord Vishnu just before sleep helps ignite deep, restful yogic sleep.
The mantra is, ‘Aum Padmanabhaya Namah,’ and you can chant it 11, 21 or 108 times before you go to sleep. You can do this on the Japa108 app to help you track this every day.
Fall Asleep on Your Left Side
According to Ayurveda, sleeping on your left side has many health benefits. Your organs are freer to get rid of toxins while you sleep and it improves digestion and circulation. It also prevents sleep disrupting conditions like acid reflux, so you get good sleep throughout the night.
Start by sleeping on your left side and then during the night you can move in whichever direction your sleep takes you.
Avoid Sleeping with your Head Pointing North
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has explained that since the magnetic field runs from North to South, sleeping with our head in the North allows the magnetic current to pass right through our body, thus draining our energy and making us feel weak and tired as though we didn’t get a complete night’s sleep. If you sleep the other way, cutting the magnetic field, then the magnetic field is not passing through the nervous system from head to toe, it is passing horizontally, and therefore you feel better.
Pandit Sanjay Rath, a well-known Indian astrologer has said that the ancient south Indian text, Śiva Mahāpurāṇa, states that South is the direction of death. Waking up and immediately facing South is like inviting the energy of death into your day. This too is why it is important to avoid sleeping with your head to the North.
Sleeping with your head pointing South is beneficial, and is said to be the best type of sleep for health, lowering blood pressure, and promoting positive energy. Sleeping with your head in the East is also favorable and is said to enhance creativity and balance the bioenergies in our system.
So if you have been struggling with a lack of quality, restful sleep, check the direction of your bed. A small change in direction might make a big difference to your sleep quality. You can also find out in which part of your bedroom to keep your bed and what mantras you can chant specifically to improve the energy of your bedroom by using the vastufy app.
Honor your Planets
Depending on the planetary transits impacting your own astrological chart, some days your mind may be at peace and you feel positive, whereas other days you could feel emotionally disturbed or your mind is all over the place, making it harder to fall asleep. According to Vedic astrology there are 9 planets constantly moving through the 12 zodiac signs. When each planet transits different positions in your birth chart, certain effects are felt, but if they are negative then specific rituals can help balance them out.
For example, when the Moon transits your 12th House of Loss, it is a good time to donate to others to mitigate any loss that might happen to you. It can also alleviate potential distractions to you getting a good night’s sleep and helps with existing stress or health related issues.
The align27 app calculates the planetary transits that affect you personally and tells you which rituals you can do to nullify any negative effects, so that things go smoothly for you and your mind is at peace, allowing for a good night’s rest.