Do you lack motivation on Monday? Are Monday morning blues making you dizzy? While at your work desk, all you can think about is the warm cocoon of your bed, but the moment the moon is at its apex you cannot sleep. Are you also one of the many people who cannot sleep at night and feel sleepy during the day? Being an author, columnist, and podcaster who has written on beauty and wellness for more than two decades, Vasudha Rai brings a solution to your sleeping problems and others to renew your mind, body and spirit through, Ritual: Daily Practices for Wellness, Beauty & Bliss. Here’s an excerpt from her book for a healthy sleep mindset.
When we sleep well, we perform better the next day, our interpersonal relationships are better, we’re inspired to work out, eat healthy and make the right choices. On the contrary, when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re not inspired to do anything at all. The first step of sleep hygiene then is to put away your phone which will only happen when you are determined. Try replacing your smartphone or tablet with a book (especially one that is mildly academic/ slow paced). It may not be as stimulating as social media, but that is the whole point.
If you’re an overthinker, it may be a good idea to write down a list of things to do the next day, lest you forget. In Ayurveda, this is especially recommended for the ambitious pitta type. Vata types do well with a warm oil foot massage that works to ground their flight, anxious energy. Kapha types usually don’t have a problem falling asleep – for them the problem is oversleeping). But whether it’s journaling, meditation, massage, sound healing, the idea is to wind down and destress. The mind cannot run at a breakneck speed and then be expected to calm down and then help you fall asleep.
Someone like me who gets stimulated easily prefers to either read a non-fiction/ knowledge book or indulge in a sound bath before bed. Personally, I find that sometimes even reading on my phone is okay as long as I’m looking up information about beauty, health and wellness. For me these are comforting areas of interest. For you it could be language, astronomy or art history. If I get involved in an engaging conversation I stay awake longer. So even if I’m on my phone, I avoid social media because I don’t want to be faced with excitement, fear, revulsion, admiration, or any other stimulating information right before bed.
The big worry is if we will be able to sleep at all. Often the inability to fall asleep is what keeps us up all night. I remember reading an article about sleep management a while back on a particular night that I spent tossing and turning. It was almost 4am and I couldn’t bear the thought of listening to the birdsong in the morning after a night I had laid awake. So I picked up my phone and looked up ‘What can you do when you can’t sleep all night’. Among the various tips the author had given one line stood out so beautifully that I remember it to this day. A somnologist said something on the lines of ‘ultimately you will go to sleep at some point, it may not come soon enough but it will come for sure’. I felt comforted by that and have worried a little bit lesser since then.
The paradox is that when we try to stay up is when we fall asleep the soonest. So my trick when I’m wakeful in the middle of the night is to do something, instead of just tossing around in bed. I keep a heavy academic book, with difficult concepts in my bedside drawer. It could also be an old, classic novel. Something heavy and verbose always makes me feel drowsy. But that’s just me, we are all different and have different needs. Think about it like this – we feel the sleepiest when we’re trying to stay awake. So instead of tossing and turning waiting for it to come, engage yourself in something boring. You could step out of the room for a few minutes, lie down and listen to a guided meditation, journal your thoughts. If you wake up in the middle of the night and aren’t able to go to sleep, try one of these, or anything else that does not involve a screen.
Get your copy of Ritual from your nearest bookstore or Amazon.