Heat wave! The Bay Area has been baked this summer with temperatures skyrocketing over the past week, and I've heard from lots of people that they're not sleeping well. What's special about this heat wave is that it's the end of summer, which means it's especially dry and we're at the junction before vata season, winter. What does that mean for us?
*Wondering about the mysterious vocabulary? Read the basics here.
The way we look to balance the pitta-type symptoms we experience now needs to be gentler than say at the mid-summer time so as not to set ourselves up for a vata-ridden winter. What constitutes "gentler"? Lifestyle adjustments are great, in part because lifestyle to balance pitta dosha will often balance vata too. If at this time of year, we were to try to use lots of the foods generally used to balance pitta (which are often bitter and cold), we would potentially cool or dry our systems out lining us up for constipation, dry skin, and an unstable mind come winter.
So with that, I give you a short list of simple, predominantly lifestyle-based tips to help you drift off to a beautiful night of slumber even with our warm temperatures. Sweet dreams!
*Wondering why give sleep so much importance? It's one of the fundamental pillars of health in Ayurveda, and UCSF just published a study saying a good night of sleep is crucial to not getting sick (duh, we knew that, but it's still nice to see studies backing us up).
COCONUT OIL ABHYANGA.
Abhyanga is best for the morning time, but can be a big help if you tend to get fired up during the day and riding that high into the night. Coconut oil abhyanga helps improve circulation, calm & moisturize inflamed skin, and steady the mind. Learn about abhyanga here with this link.
EAT AN EARLY DINNER.
When the weather is warm, our agni (digestive fire) goes down, which means we benefit by eating a little lighter and allowing a little longer for our food to digest. Ayurveda sees the process of digestion to go through three phases, starting with kapha, moving to pitta then lastly vata. We want to make it through the pitta phase before getting ready for bed so that we can settle down and devote energy to sleep (I know it's crazy that it takes energy to do something that's supposed to reward you with energy in the end, but it's true). Finishing dinner by 7pm is a great idea if you're struggling to sleep by 9:30 or 10pm. If you find you get hungry again before bed, drinking a cup of vegetable broth or a light vegetable soup is generally enough to appease your appetite without causing digestive or sleep disturbance.
A LITTLE SUPINE YOGA.
When it's really hot we often don't want to move much and may end up being more sedentary. Moving a little before bed is a great way to unwind. Supine (on your back) postures are wonderful for this purpose. All variations of reclined twists are excellent and playing with variations of supta hasta padangustasana feel great at the end of the day. Plus you don't have to sit upright to meditate. Lying on your back and watching your breath move like waves is very therapeutic!
LEGS UP THE WALL WITH ROSEWATER.
Lots of you have tried rosewater spritz on your face, but have you tried it on your feet? It's divine! If you tend towards cold feet this isn't for you, but if you tend towards hot or itchy eyes or warm feet you'll love this. Follow your rose foot spritz with legs up the wall. I dare you to try not to relax (not really though). This is a favorite year round with the foot bath varying with the season.
Golden Turmeric Milk is all the rage before bed, but turmeric is heating, so on warm nights this drink may not be the most helpful. Chamomile is cooling and relaxing, so makes a nice alternative when it's warm. Chamomile can be a little drying so for those more prone to dryness, adding a little ghee or almond milk is a wise to add a little moisture.
PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL.
This tip is especially for those wth busy pitta minds before bed. I've been keeping my little bottle of peppermint essential oil by the bed and after I get into bed, taking a few deep inhales with the bottle under my nose. It's wonderful for helping clear your mind and chill out. For those less pitta-prone, lavender oil is a better idea.
You can give one or many of these a try, and I hope they serve you well to waking up rested the next day.
Do you have tricks for sleeping well when it's warm? I'd love to hear them in the comments below.
Starting this upcoming Wednesday morning...
THE MINDFUL MORNING SERIES
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