The Critical Role of Sleep

In these times of high anxiety, when every social media post or news article can invoke a feeling of not being grounded, there are both ancient and more recent learnings that can provide us with guidance, as we enter the cool Winter season.

Critical Role of Sleep
We all know that we feel better able to deal with the day-to-day stressors in life when we are well rested. The current scientific research supports that we need to get at least 8 hours of sleep for basic good health. For some, that is a very difficult goal to set, because of the push and pull of the daily to-do list. But consider, this is not a deficit we can pay back, and every waking hour goes better when we get this sleep.

It has been recently discovered that the brain has a drainage system, called a “glymphatic” system. This system is responsible for clearing out the “gunk” that might otherwise harm our brain. In preliminary research, this system, when it is not cleaned out via sleep, supports the development of beta amyloid,  the protein that can be a primary contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s. These proteins also have an affinity for the deep sleep centers. So, the less sleep we get the more “gunk” and the more “gunk” the less well we can sleep.

Dr. Matthew Walker, the Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California Berkley and the author of new book, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams, provides guidance as to getting a good night’s sleep.  

·       Sleep in a completely darkened room: Photons of light can upset the circadian rhythms.

·       No caffeine or alcohol: Adenosine is a hormone which is important in signaling sleep to the brain. Caffeine interferes with this hormone. Alcohol disrupts the ability to get a deep night’s sleep.

·       The wisdom of Ayurveda provides guidance that it is best to be in bed in a quiet, dark, uncluttered bed room before 11 pm.This means: electronic devices put away around ten and the same pre-bedtime routine that works for you: calming tea (such as Passiflora’s Sanctuary blend), Passionflower solid extract in warm water, a soothing footbath or bath with Epsom salts, lavender essential oil on the feet, and/or yogic legs up the wall. Develop a consistent self-love night-time routine that works for you.

·       Sleep in a cool room

·      If you wake during the night, train your brain that your bed is for sleep. Get up and go to another room to read or meditate until you get sleepy. Avoid bright lights and electronic devices.

Ayurvedic Wisdom for the Winter Season
Ayurveda  (the ancient Indian “science of life”) provides guidance as to how to bring more balance, joy and vitality to life. In the season of windy-ness, lightness and sometimes dry-ness, the antidotes are warm, unctuous and soothing.

·       Remember to be gentle on yourself, such as: walks in the woods, restorative yoga at home (in child’s pose or legs up the wall at bedtime), an early morning breathing practice with “I am” on the inhale and “at peace” on the exhale. Put yourself and your peace on your to-do list!

·       Slow cooked soups and stews, roasted root vegetables and squashes and other naturally sweet, warm and soothing foods, eating slowly, in pleasant surroundings and company are the anti-dote to the season.  Check out our catering menu, if you would like to order our nourishing soups by the quart.

·       Ashwagandha is a Fall harvested root that allows you to have vitality and healthy focus during the day; and still allows you to sleep at night. The recommended dose is 500 mg twice a day. Some of our favorite brands are Banyan Botanicalsand Organic India.

·       A sesame oil self-massage before the shower (include some of your favorite essential oils, perhaps rose geranium or grapefruit in the am; and lavender or vetiver in the pm) is calming and soothing to the body and central nervous system.

We hope that Passiflora will play a role in your winter health. Look to us as your calming, relaxing community space. Contact us at passifloratearoom@gmail if you would like to have a private, consult herbal or Ayurvedic consult.