I’ve contemplated and researched every insomniac’s trick out there. (You can catch up on my personal experience with insomnia and my 14 insomnia solutions if you find yourself with an hour to kill at 3am sometime soon.)
Eventually you have to drill things down to The Thing That Works. Of course, there are always several factors. But mostly there’s a core one that feeds the rest, or takes care of the rest when you kick into Solution Finding Mode.
I mostly find Ayurveda is all about this: drilling down, going to the root. Wonderfully, during my stay at an Ayurvedic clinic in India last month, the doctors looking after me pretty much drilled down to this root trick:
Go to bed by 10pm.
Their Ayurvedic explanation goes like this…
Different times of day have different energetic forces aligned with the doshas. (I explain the dosha deal here.)
- 6-10am and 6-10pm is Kapha time, which is good for rejuvenating (in the morning) or slowing down (at night time).
- 10-2am and 10-2pm is Pitta time. This is when your body’s oven is on full force (heat!). During the day your metabolism is most active, during the night your mind processes all the things you’ve encountered mentally during the day.
- 2-6am and 2-6pm is Vata time. The most creative time of day for most of us.
So what’s the deal with 10pm?
Yes, well, going to bed by 10pm means you will be putting your head down during Kapha time – the perfect time for drifting off into a peaceful night’s sleep. If you stay up later, you move into Pitta time and your energy will be more “heated” and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Contemporary or Western thinking tends to agree with the 10pm rule, without really understanding why. A recent article in the New Yorker says science shows that sticking to a prescribed bed time each night can certainly be beneficial for somebody struggling with insomnia. Because if you’re “out of phase” from typical bedtimes, your melatonin levels get off kilter. The hormone that usually tells you to fall asleep isn’t produced in enough quantity, or the necessary receptors are missing.
Ayurvedic consultant Nadia Marshall, director ofThe Mudita Institute near Byron Bay, shares this: Ayurvedic belief is that the production of hormones in the body are cyclical and are a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm of nature. If our hormone secretion is out of sync with nature it’s because our daily, sleep and seasonal routines are out of sync. If we want our hormones to be secreted in a smooth, calm, cyclical way, we need our daily and sleep routines to be in tune with the rhythms and cycles of nature.
So, of course, those melatonin issues sort themselves out when you get to bed by 10pm. Which goes back to the Ayurvedic “core issue”.
Me, I’ve been doing the Bed by Ten thing for a while now and I’ve noticed whenever I slip over the threshold toward 11pm, I struggle to drift off, and yet still wake at the same time, exhausted.
Have you experienced troubles falling asleep? Does a 10pm cut-off work for you?