Want Better Sleep for Good Health and Beauty?
Sleep is a vital aspect of our daily lives and is essential for maintaining good health.
Research at the Johns Hopkins University and other well-known institutions focused on sleep research has shown that lack of sleep leads to impairment in memory and the ability to learn. Sleep deprivation can also lead to reduced immunity and increase the risk of infection and disease. Inadequate sleep over time leads to anxiety, can cause depression and it can increase the chances of chronic and lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardio-vascular functions. Last but not the least, lack of sound sleep accelerates the aging process with increased wrinkles, fines lines and discoloration on the skin and decline in the cognitive functions of the brain, leading to early onset of dementia in men and women.
While the exact reasons why we need sleep are still being studied by universities and doctors alike, there is no denying that sleep plays a crucial role in our physical and mental well-being. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise" was a proverb advocating following the circadian rhythm.
Sleep has been given tremendous importance in Ayurveda for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. According to Ayurveda, sleep is considered one of the 3 pillars of health alongwith diet and lifestyle, though the exact duration recommended may vary from 6-8 hours for different body types. The Ayurveda Dinacharya, or the daily routine recommends following the circadian rhythm, and sleep latest by 10 pm, so that ideally one can wake early morning before sunrise (Brahmamuhurtham) which is considered an auspicious time of day, to meditate and pursue activities which require focus. This is because the body operates best in the morning (sattva-dominated) and during the day (rajas-dominated), with the night-time (tamas-dominated) being reserved for body to be in a state of inertia to restore itself.
In modern lives, most people young and old are facing sleep issues. Increased stimulation especially with electronic devices, work or home stress, travel, long hours, hectic life-style, aging, too many thoughts circulating in the head...the causes are numerous.
There are several natural ways to work on enhancing the sleep duration and quality before resorting to stronger measures like sleeping pills.
9 Steps to improve your sleep
A relaxing night routine to unwind after a long hard day can include some or all of the following -
- Following a regular sleep schedule, because the body operates best when it sticks to a daily rhythm
- Eating well in time, at least 3 hours before one plans to sleep, in order to ensure that the metabolism and digestion cycle are in synch
- Ensuring a black-out time from electronic media, because the stimuli from social media and news can be all pervasive and difficult to extricate from
- Create a good atmosphere with calming music because slow tempos, soft melodies, and specific Indian ragas can be very relaxing, calm the fraught nerves and distract the thoughts away from bustling thoughts. Turn down the lights too and signal to the brain that it's time to wind down and sleep.
- Reading a book (apart from a very scary novel), can help to distract the mind away from racing thoughts, relax and help unwind. You can also think about starting to journal as a routine to pen down your thoughts, your anxieties, frustrations, or anything that's troubling you. Journalling helps to get it out of your system, and hence calming your mind. Another practice which works very well is to plan the day ahead with a short achievable to-do list.
- Night self-care routine with a daily foot massage (Details below - A)
- An added head massage (at least a couple of times a week or when required) if the nerves are frazzled (Details below - B)
- Aromatherapy with relaxing Lavender oil, Chamomile Oil (Details below - C)
- Lastly, a few relaxing breathing exercises or Pranayama, a few gentle stretches or yoga exercises, a calming meditation routine are good to do before sleeping. Time to turn off the lights and tuck yourself into bed. If sleep is still evading, then a special meditation like Yoga Nidra is a great idea so that the body and mind feel rejuvenated despite low sleep.
2-minute Parama Night Sleep Routine
A night self-care routine of just 2-5 minutes with Parama Naturals Oils can help you to get the best sleep support.
The feet and lower legs are often neglected in our daily self-care routines, but they are key areas for relaxation and stress relief. A gentle foot massage helps release tension in the muscles and increasing circulation, leading to a feeling of relaxation and calmness.
Padabhyanga, or foot massage, is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves the application of warm oils or herbal pastes on the soles of the feet, followed by a gentle massage and manipulation of the feet and lower legs. This practice, is recommended in the Ayurveda Dinacharya, or daily self-care routine in Ayurveda for all ages. Padabhyanga done before bedtime, is known to have numerous health benefits, including improved sleep quality, reducing stiffness in joints and muscles and overall mind and body relaxation.
The best oils for Padabhyanga are sesame oil for all seasons, because it is the deepest penetrating oil and considered the most appropriate in Ayurveda for top to toe massage, across all seasons and body types. Mustard oil may be used in winters. Coconut oil or ghee may be used in peak summer, when the temperatures outside and in the body are soaring high (when the body pitta level is highly aggravated). In addition to massage with plain oils, Ayurveda prescribes application of a paste made with dry ginger powder (Sunth or Sunthi or Shunthi) for relieving pain in the feet, tiredness and foot oedema. Ginger is a well-known medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties, and is known to be effective in treating a range of health conditions, including muscle relaxing, nausea, colds, and digestive problems.
A daily foot massage before sleep with Parama Naturals Zingiber Foot & Body Massage Oil gives the combined benefits of Padabhyanga and ginger paste application. Here's how it helps -
- Reduces stress and anxiety, promotes relaxation, improves the mood
When we are stressed or anxious, it can be difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. When we are in a good mood, we are more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A gentle massage on the soles of the feet and manipulation of the feet and lower legs can promote a sense of calmness and relaxation. A foot massage can also stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and well-being. This can help to improve overall mood and sleep quality. Ginger oil has a calming effect on the mind and body, further reducing stress and anxiety and promoting better sleep.
- Improves blood flow and circulation
During padabhyanga, the massage and manipulation of the feet and lower legs also helps to improve circulation. Poor circulation can lead to a range of health problems, including pain, swelling, and numbness in the feet and legs. Ginger oil is also known to improve circulation, which can help to reduce swelling and promote healing. Improved circulation also helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body's tissues, which can help to improve overall health and well-being.
By improving circulation, padabhyanga can help to alleviate these symptoms, leading to better sleep quality and overall health.
- Relieves inflammation, pain and discomfort
Ginger oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a common cause of pain and discomfort, and can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Many of us experience pain or discomfort in our feet or legs, which can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
By relieving pain and discomfort, padabhyanga with anti-inflammatory ginger oil can help us relax and get a better night's sleep.
- Relieves muscle stiffness, crackling joints, chronic pains
Aches, pains and cramps often lead to inability to fall asleep. Resorting to a pain-killer may be acceptable for an occasional time, but when they are recurring due to lifestyle, or age or some auto-immune issues, then long-term use of pain-killers can have side-effects. Most issues of cramps, stiffness and crackling joints are on account of Vata accumulation. Padabhyanga with ginger oil help to relieve all such muscle pain and soreness, and relaxes the muscles. This can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from conditions such as plantar fasciitis or other foot and leg pain.
The numerous benefits of foot massage with ginger oil are corroborated by research conducted at various medical and research institutes across the world across different age-groups and life-stages like pregnant women, middle-aged women and men, post-partum women, aged persons, cancer patients etc. A specific study in the Korean Journal of Nursing showed that foot massage specifically with Ginger Oil resulted in less difficulty in falling asleep, improved the quality of sleep, reduced insomnia and reduced the incidences of waking up.
So incorporate a daily self-foot massage of just 2-5 minutes into your self-care routine. By reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, improving blood flow, relieving pain and discomfort, and improving mood, padabhyanga or foot massage with Ginger Oil can help us get the rest we need to stay healthy and happy. This is good for all ages, and through the year.
Note: Apply the ginger oil on the neck, shoulders, back and temples for added benefit of relaxation, stress relief and sleep support. If ginger oil is unavailable, use the Parama Naturals Turmeric Moisturizing Body Oil or the Parama Naturals Lavender-Turmeric Moisturizing Body Oil
B. Head Massage (Shirobhyanga) twice a week or when required - 30 sec
A head massage at the end of the day is relaxing because it can help to release tension and stress that has built up in the scalp, neck, and shoulders, which can lead to sleep issues, headaches, and fatigue.
In Ayurveda, head oiling, or scalp massage is called Shirobhyanga. It is a traditional practice that involves applying oil to the head and massaging it. By applying pressure and gentle movements to these areas, a head massage can help to stimulate nerve endings and pressure points to improve blood flow. It also promotes relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, reduce headaches, release endorphins, relax muscles, soothe the nervous system and calm the mind. Overall, a head massage is not only a wonderful way to unwind and relax after a long day, but it can help to make it easier to fall asleep, improve the quality of sleep to stay asleep for a longer time. All these improve the overall well-being and health.
To get the benefits of a head massage, you can try doing it yourself or get a partner or professional to do it for you. Use gentle, circular motions with your fingers on the scalp and neck, and focus on areas where you feel tension or discomfort. Combine this with some deep breathing exercises, and you'll be well on your way to a better night's sleep.
The Parama Naturals' Nourishing Hair Oil is perfect for the head massage of shirobhyanga for sleep support too, with some of the herbs which naturally improve the sleep quality like -
- Brahmi (Gotu kola): Brahmi is an herb that is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety. It has been found to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which may help to promote better sleep.
- Rosemary: Rosemary is an herb that is commonly used in hair oil formulations for its stimulating properties. However, it also has a calming effect on the mind and body, which can promote better sleep. When used in hair oil, rosemary can help to reduce inflammation and promote relaxation.
C. Face & Neck Massage with Calming Lavender Oil for combined benefits of Aromatherapy and Abhyanga - 30 sec
Lavender Oil is considered the panacea for most ills in aromatherapy. Lavender has been known, over centuries, to have calming and relaxing properties, and scientific studies have proven how it is a good support for sleep. A study published in the Alternative and Complimentary Medicine stated that by the inhaling lavender oil for 20 minutes before bedtime led to improved sleep quality in participants with mild insomnia. The study also found that lavender increased the amount of deep, slow-wave sleep, which is important for feeling rested and rejuvenated. Other research has proven the effectiveness of Lavender oil in reducing anxiety, blood pressure and heart-rate, especially in people who suffer from insomnia. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that lavender aromatherapy led to an enhancement of mood.
A calming night routine with applying the Parama Naturals Lavender Overnight Face Oil or the Lavender-Turmeric Moisturizing Face & Body Oil is a wonderful way to unwind and relax after a long day. Along with improving the quality of sleep, it will also improve the skin tone. Apply the oils in slow upward and circular movement on the face and neck and enjoy a lovely beauty sleep, literally!
Note: On the neck, shoulders, back and temples, you can apply the ginger oil (same as for the foot massage) for added benefit of relaxation, stress relief and sleep support
Sleep, oh beauty sleep, how important you are
The best for our bodies and minds, by far
Restoring and rejuvenating us each night
Helping us wake up refreshed and bright
Cell repair, chronic illness, emotional well-being too
Sleep helps us in all that we pursue
Regulating hormones, metabolism, weight and more
Sleep helps keep us healthy to the core
Dark circles? Wrinkles? No signs of aging please
Get a beautiful complexion with great ease
So let's prioritize our sleep each night
For good health and a life that's bright.
Here's to sound sleep and top-to-toe care with Parama Naturals.
Rediscover ancient traditions in modern lives for skincare, good health and overall wellness, with Parama Naturals