Waking at 4am?
Almost every day I am contacted by women who can’t sleep.
They want to know “Is there an essential oil I can use”? The answer to that of course is yes, oils are a tool that can help you relax and drift off easier….
But there may be a deeper reason you are waking up in the small hours of the morning.
Did you know that our ancestors slept in two sleep cycles?
Yes, before the addition of street lighting and home lighting, people would naturally wake around 2-3am for a couple of hours. During those hours most would stay in bed, perhaps reading a book by candlelight, or having sex, or praying! Yes, there are old religious prayers that were dedicated to these waking hours.
It’s interesting that perhaps your ancestral memories are imprinted and you instinctively wake up at that time?
Of course there are many things in our lifestyle and society nowadays that disturb sleep…
- Eating late at night, especially processed, sugary foods
- Staying up too late watching TV, especially dark, disturbing dramas
- Feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do, and replaying all those things before sleep
- Blue light from the screens of all the devices blocking the production of sleep hormones
- Even the regular lighting in our homes….
The thing is, our natural circadian rhythm, we are supposed to sleep when its dark. That would be a lot of hours of sleep in Winter here in the northern hemisphere but we at least should have minimal lighting on in our homes when it is dark outside.
We have become so out of sync with the rhythm of nature because of this.
How can you be in rhythm with nature and get good sleep?
It’s actually fairly simple….
In Ayurveda (the 4000+ year old traditional holistic medicine) there are 3 doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) which determine our physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. The doshas also represent times of the year (like seasons) and times of the day.
It’s the latter we want to work with when aiming for better sleep.
Pitta is the element of fire and represents our most productive time of the day (10am-2pm). This time is also when our digestive fire is strongest, so the best time to eat a big meal.
However Pitta time arrives again between 10pm-2am, so if we stay awake past 10pm, that productive pitta fire makes us feel more energised and awake. This is why you may feel exhausted at 7pm, but then get your second wind around 10pm and are unable to sleep!
10pm-2am is also the time your digestive system is working hard, so if you are asleep during those hours, and not using energy elsewhere, your body will get the rest and repair it needs.
You should have your deepest sleep between these hours. If you are not going to bed till past midnight every night, then you are missing out on valuable hours of DEEP sleep.
If you do find yourself waking after 2am, that’s because its Vata time and Vata time is a beautifully creative time of day, but also a time when anxiousness can be heightened. If you have had a lot going through your mind before sleep, moving to Vata could wake you up thinking again.
Try doing what your ancestors did….read a book, meditate/pray, enjoy that spiritual time of day…I’ll not suggest sex because I’m sure you couldn’t wake your man at that time of night 😉
Hopefully you will get another few hours and then….hate to break it to ya….but rising before 6am is best for your energy levels throughout the day! More on that on another day…..!
Top Tips To Improve Your Sleep
- Wear blue blocker glasses after sunset
- Enjoy moderate exercise every day (but not within 2 hours of bedtime)
- Avoid caffeine past noon
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Wake up at the same time every morning
- Stick to a bedtime schedule
- Spend an hour before bed relaxing (read, meditate, bathe, enjoy sex)
- Stop eating two hours before bedtime
- Turn off electronic devices two hours before bedtime
- Turn down the heat! Cooler temps in the bedroom can help you sleep.
- Sleep naked or with less bed clothing. Your skin can better regulate temperature and transition your body into deep sleep this way.
- Turn off the lights (including night lights and digital clock lights).