“There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.”
This quote from the Bhagvad Gita succinctly highlights the importance of eating and sleeping well, two of the three key pillars for a long and healthy life.
Beauty sleep is not just about packing in 7-8 hours of good sleep in our busy schedules. It’s also about sleeping at the right time, inculcating good eating habits and exercising regularly. Thus, apart from our night time rituals, the routine we follow during daytime is also important for sleeping well and looking fresh and beautiful the next morning. In fact, the secret to ‘beauty sleep’ lies in habits that continue before and after we sleep.
Ideally, Ayurveda recommends sleeping before 10:00 pm. After sunset, solar energy is still retained in the atmosphere until midnight. Sleeping during this time period contributes towards effective nourishment and restoration of bodily functions. Heat is produced in the body that helps burn up ama or toxins that may have generated during the day.
Ama is in fact, waste or toxins in the body. It creates blockages in the body's microcirculatory channels, creating a hindrance in the cells’ intercommunication. This, in turn, blocks the flow of ojas, negatively impacting our health and inner bliss.
Proper sleep combined with a diet of organic, fresh and sattvic foods that are easy to digest help promote the ojas. Other ojas-rich foods include ghee, milk, almonds, raw honey, and fresh oranges. It also helps to avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages at night owing to their dehydrating effect. An early evening walk is preferred over a late night exercise that may lead to excess stimulation or restlessness.
Before bedtime, massaging your temples and naval with warm, pure ghee lends a calming effect. It hydrates the skin by balancing the dry components of Vata. Our feet and scalp have over 7000 nerve endings. Massaging them with cold pressed coconut oil aids the circulation of blood and lymph flow.
Following a night of tranquil sleep, waking up during Brahma-muhurta (ambrosial hours) or around 5.30 to 6 am, aligns us with the rhythm of the sun. An early morning walk in the rising sun or yoga and breathing exercises relax our body and mind, filling it with good prana – the key to joy and a natural glow on skin.