Ayurvedic Evening Rituals & The Power of SLEEP

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man/woman healthy, wealthy and wise."  

- your great great great grandmother


The topic of SLEEP is an ongoing conversation that many of us have just chosen to ignore. It seems that lately, though, it's back in "style." Oprah and Ellen are talking about it. The topic of sleep is on the cover of every parenting and health/ beauty/ business and style magazine. Every successful entrepreneur, from Vishen Lakianni to Arianna Huffington and Bill Gates, mentions the importance of sleep. These people admit to the old belief that to be "successful," you must "burn the candle on both ends," .....and they did until they either burned out, hit a wall, or got sick. 

 Most of us know we're not getting enough sleep; however, we're not quite sure HOW to get more and exactly WHY we're so desperately in need.

Here are a few reasons WHY. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic—a widespread disease occurrence in a community. Most of us are not sleeping enough but think we're "just fine." We believe this is as good as it gets. We're accustomed to feeling tired, low energy, overwhelmed, and brain fogged.

As a culture, we're out of sync with our energy integrity, which disrupts our immune function. When that happens, ALL hell breaks loose because it's your immune system that keeps the universe of "YOU" together, integrated, robust, and grounded

The list of autoimmune issues is jaw-dropping - from Grave's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, MS, lupus, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, obesity, plus over 80 more - even allergies is a less severe manifestation of an aberrant autoimmune response.

Our kids are sleep deprived. Teens are learning that staying awake late to do homework is "just what you do" to succeed. Unfortunately, kids learn these habits from their parents, and we must do something about it. 

I know what you're thinking, "If I have to listen to one more person tell me I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm going to pop a gasket."

It's a HOT topic because it IS a HOT topic and one that we MUST take seriously. Did you know that the NTA (National Transport Assoc.) states that driving tired is AS dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and that the rate of injury and accidents skyrockets with sleep deprivation? That's crazy pants!!!

Your sleep cycle is synchronized with the day/night or light/dark natural rhythms outside your body. When you align with the circadian rhythm, health ensues. When you develop an abnormal circadian rhythm, you risk obesity, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder to name only a few proven problems. The kicker...when you don't get enough sleep, you become a more likely host for cancer. Playing with electricity after 10 pm is playing with fire. Burning the midnight oil consistently will burn you out. Regular, deep sleep after dusk until before dawn, is the nectar of your immune function.

As Ayurveda (5000-year-old ancient holistic science) states, the time between 10 pm and 2 am is governed by the metabolic energy of Pitta (fire). Before 10 pm is the slow anabolic energy of Kapha (water). When you fall asleep before 10 pm, you get replenished. The time between 10 pm and 2 am is when the body does its "house cleaning". This is the time for detoxification, replenishment, and deep rest. Kapha time leads into Pitta time. As the sun goes down, so is our energy level naturally—Kapha's mellow, reflective, dense, and watery energy in the early evening rebuilds. If you pay attention to this time of the day, you'll notice that the vibe is also sweet, and conversations are easier and more fluid. It's the most reflective time to review your day and your life. Your eyelids become heavier as the natural "wind down" energy becomes dense. If you're in sync with the daily rhythm, you'll know it's time for bed.

BEWARE OF THE SECOND WIND "NIGHT OWLS. " Are you someone that, as the day comes to a close, has a habit of ramping up the energy just to keep going and get stuff done? Do you refuse to listen to your body's signals of fatigue? Com'on, we've all done it- had that evening caffeinated beverage, sugary dessert, a glass of wine, or simply used this time to do all the things you didn't do during the daylight hours (Moms beware). I remember having small kids, and this was the time with the kids in bed, I got s**t done or connected with my husband for a 9 pm meal.

So many people are accustomed to overriding their body's quietening messages. But, for those of you that were raised in a household of "night owls," which disregarded the circadian wind-down....that slow, sleepy, anabolic Kapha shiftiness energy- you may not even realize it exists. 

Have you ever gone camping? Remember what it feels like when the sun starts to descend in the sky and the air shifts temperature, and you begin to get sleepy? It's bedtime, and your body instinctively knows it. No electricity = excellent sleep. So maybe you're not a camper… On the other hand, if you have kids, you know what it's like to dim the lights, lie down with your child, read a book, and get drowsy-eyed- same thing. 

Compare this to when you fire up the computer or TV after dinner. You may have felt the signs of fatigue, but suddenly, your energy is ramped up again, and you have that evil second wind. If you had gone to bed when you were genuinely tired, you would've slept through it. The rising energy of Pitta between 10 pm -2 pm is meant to put on its apron and get to work cleaning its inner body- home. When you stay up after 10 pm you aggravate your internal housekeeping system, which needs good sleep to function. It's harder for your body to clean house if you're a "night owl." Over time this overwhelms your immune system, and things start to break down.

If you engage in the second wind, you borrow from tomorrow's energy supply and incur a deficit. We need to listen to our bodies' signs of fatigue, and if we don't, this deficit blows through our deep energy stores and eventually wreaks havoc on our immune system.

Between 6-10 pm (Kapha time), your body will signal that it's time to wind down. If you do not do this, you'll be ramped up again when you go to bed, and your sleep will be influenced by the energy of Pitta time. You've missed the window to drift off into your best sleep possible.

If you start to pay attention to the downward pull of energy at this time of day (6-10 pm) and surrender to nature's body clock, which operates your organs and systems, better health, more profound energy and immune integrity come back into reach.

Research states that when you stay up late and don't get enough sleep

or spend your evenings on screens; over time, you train your body to produce cortisol around 8 pm. This stimulating hormone prevents you from winding down. If we keep this up over time, chronic sleep loss is likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for obesity and diabetes. PLUS, sleep loss increases appetite and has us just eating more than if we went to bed- a.k.a... late night snacking= weight gain.

You need to wind down around 8 pm to experience a deep sleep and deep fat burning and reset your endocrine system into balance. If you're staying up late regularly, you're messing with your endocrine system, including stress hormone cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, and growth hormone. It's not a pretty picture.

If you're only, on average, getting max. 6-7 hours of sleep of night- it's just downright dangerous! The CDC reports that short-changing our rest over time leads to every disease, imbalance, and accident imaginable. Keep this up, and you're in for long-term health problems.

Sleep is the BEST medicine available for every one of us. How can you get more of it? What can you do NOW to make that happen? 

Remember, this is for the immediate AND the long haul. You get to decide HOW you want to feel daily and how you want to show up for your family, friends, career, and life. Sleep is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and also the greatest gift you can offer your kids if you have them. My husband goes to bed earlier now because I do, completely unsolicited by me.

Sleep is a HOT topic. As a culture, we MUST start to address the statistics and take steps to make it better for ourselves and the upcoming generations.

Change starts with you. 

Here’s to getting more sleep.


Ps. In my signature program, "MIND BODY BRIGHT DAILY HABITS", we spend an entire week, learning, practicing and automating this very important healthy habit.