You know those mornings after a bad night’s sleep where you’re a world hating, gloomy-doomy grouch? And then there are those times when you’ve slept peacefully like a baby through the night, and wake up feeling all fresh and smiley and shunshine-y. Throughout my life I’ve experienced both these extremes a lot.
So in the middle of last year I decided enough was enough and consciously started developing some healthy practices to help me slow down, come to the present moment, and let my brain and body know it’s time to fall sleep, and sleep well.
In this episode I’ve spoken about my present night time rituals in detail. If you’re someone who struggles with getting a good night’s rest and high quality sleep, then this is for you, my friend! Something I’ve shared might be just what you were looking for.
Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast platform. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂
“What you do at night before you fall asleep makes a world of difference on the quality of your sleep, and how well you sleep through the night. How long you’re able to sleep without disturbance.”Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast
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Transcript of Night Time Rituals to Slow Down and Sleep Well
(gently edited for a better reading experience)
Hi! I hope you had a lovely weekend. My weekend was great, particularly Sunday. Normally I like to stay home most of the day or throughout the weekend, just you know, watching TV, cooking, relaxing, doing a bit of cleaning, basically have a very slow, gentle time. But yesterday, which was Sunday, we went out on this really fun vegan food hop.
It was a very sudden plan
In the middle of last week, somebody floated the idea of walking from place to place in a particular area, and eating food and walking and eating, and just enjoying the whole process as a group.
I got so excited when I heard that that I just jumped on the idea and planned everything. And just put out a vote on the group saying, “let’s do it! Let’s do it this weekend. Who’d like to do it on Saturday? Or Sunday?” And a lot of people voted for Sunday. So the plan just got fixed and it just fell into place so easily.
It was a nice, cosy, good sized gang. There were about eight or nine of us. Some people were joining in the middle and leaving, but the rest of the core group we stayed from the morning until quite late in the night together. And oh, it was so much fun!
The thing is, in South India, it’s ridiculously easy to be vegan
A lot of our local foods are vegan anyway. Like idli vada, dosa, shavige baath, and so many things. So many of our local foods are vegan by default. Unless somebody adds butter or ghee on top, the recipe, the basic food itself is vegan. So it’s really easy to just hop from one local adda to another, you know. One small little place, eat a little there, and walk and go to another little place, eat there, and then visit one more…
We didn’t even have to look specifically for vegan restaurants or vegan friendly places. But the beauty is that nowadays, Bangalore’s become super vegan friendly! It’s come a long way in the past, maybe six, seven years, the way it’s grown. And particularly right after the pandemic, the number of new vegan businesses that have cropped up, oh my god, we’re just spoilt for choice!
So yeah, it was a lot of fun
What I really appreciate is how the group came together. Everybody was easygoing. There was no fixed schedule as such. We just decided to meet at one place, and we had a few places loosely in mind saying, “okay, we’ll go here, here, here, here”, you know. “Here for branch, here for lunch or for evening snacks”, that way.
We just had a very, you know, rough idea of the places we wanted to visit but we decided that once we meet up we’ll take it easy and go with the flow. And it went really well.
Unexpectedly one of the places we visited (Bangalore Creative Circus), they had a weekend farmers market
So apart from eating at their canteen, we managed to visit a bunch of small, local stalls, local sellers. And even they had quite a number of vegan options. It was pretty cool to see.
We had cakes, cookies, ice creams… which are traditionally not vegan but vegan options were available. And of course there was bread and pudis and pickles, those things which normally tend to be vegan anyway.
It was a lovely experience yesterday, and oh how much walking we did!
At the end of the day, I was like super tired out. But you know, in a good way, right? Like not drained, but just exhausted in a really, really good, fulfilled and light way. That was my experience.
If you’re in Bangalore and you’re listening, send me an email if you’d like to join the next food hop. We had such a great time that we decided we have to do this maybe once a month, or once in two months, or something like that. So we’re definitely gonna do this across different areas of Bangalore.
If you’re in town and if you would like to join one of the food hops, just drop me an email and I’ll send you the details about it.
Anyway, coming to today’s episode
You know, one of the earliest, one of the first episodes I did… This is way back in 2019, December when I launched the podcast. 2019! Oh, I can’t believe it’s been so many years already since the show began. But anyway, when I launched the podcast soon after that, one of the episodes I did was about Morning Rituals.
I’d shared the kind of things, the kinds of activities that I involve myself in as I start my day
Some of it has changed, some of it has stayed the same. But the basic idea was about being mindful and slowing down and, you know, easing into the day. Versus just jumping into work and going straight from waking up into active mode.
Do listen to that episode if you’re interested in learning more about morning rituals. It’s episode number four. It is one of the earlier episodes on the show, so it isn’t perfect, I was still learning the ropes of how to run a podcast. But yeah, I’ve shared a lot of useful tips, or what people told me were useful tips in that. So if you’d like to know more about Morning Rituals, just listen to that.
But the episode now is about night time rituals
Because I realised, “hey, I’ve done morning rituals, but I’ve never spoken about night time rituals.” And those are so important.
What you do at night before you fall asleep makes a world of difference on the quality of your sleep, and how well you sleep through the night. How long you’re able to sleep without disturbance.
And believe me when I say that I am not one of the most healthy sleepers. I’m a very light sleeper, that’s just genetically who I am. The lightest sound, lightest disturbance and I just wake up. And for years it took me ages to get back to sleep once I woke up. So I knew that I had to make some changes.
I see a huge difference when I’ve had a good solid night’s sleep! The way I am as a person on the next day is very, very different from who I am on the days where my sleep has been disturbed in some way.
So sometime in the middle of last year, I decided to consciously develop a few healthy habits before going to bed
And those have been quite beneficial, I’ll say. I’m not saying it’s made my sleep perfect, I still have a ways to go before I reach that. But I have more nights of good sleep than I used to before, to begin with. And if I do wake up in the middle of the night for anything, I’m able to fall back into sleep again a lot quicker than I used to before.
Also in the night before falling asleep, I used to just be awake for quite some time before even being able to manage to fall asleep. But now I’m able to fall asleep pretty quickly. I get into bed, and I read, and you know ,I’m just asleep pretty soon after that. So that’s a huge thing for me, huge step.
If you’re also someone who struggles a bit with getting a healthy, good quality, good night’s sleep, then maybe what I share today might help you if you put these practices (some of these, or all of them) into place
Now I’d like to clarify, when I use the word “ritual”, I don’t mean religious ritual. Haha It’s just something that we do every day, repeatedly as a habit. You know, something that indicates to our brains that, “yes, now we are winding down, and it’s time to fall asleep soon.”
So to start with, I hope everybody does this, but I know not everybody has the healthy habit of brushing their teeth at night before bed. But cleaning your mouth in some way, I mean, even if you aren’t brushing your teeth, one thing that’s important is at least to…
Rinse out your mouth well and use a tongue scraper, a tongue cleaner
Because when you have a clean mouth, some freshness there, it actually helps a lot in relaxing you, versus having that little bit of aftertaste of your dinner or whatever it is you have eaten.
You know, some things just stay in your mouth for a few hours, that light bit of taste. And getting rid of all of that, it really helps to freshen you up and relax you a bit.
Along with that if you are able to do a little bit of a gargle, a throat gargle, that helps too
I use this mixture of a little bit of apple cider vinegar, a little bit of lemon juice, some pink salt, and then lots of water. Mix that up and then that is my gargle mixture. And I always use that before I do my brushing and mouth rinsing in the night.
You don’t have to do specifically this combination. You can just do a saltwater gargle. But it helps because you’ve been talking all day, or even if you don’t talk, even if you’ve had your mouth closed all day, either one of those cases, it helps to clean things out and refresh your breath, refresh your throat.
And on top of that, if you’re out and about and you’ve been exposed to dust, or in today’s world, germs, then this helps. Having this as a daily habit before bed, it helps protect you overall. Plus that exercise of gargling, that sound, and just going “gurrrr”, you know, that relaxes you. It helps to slow you down and relaxes you a bit.
You don’t have to do a lot. Even just like one sip of the saltwater, you can just use that and one gargle one one time. Just go “gurrrrr” and that itself is enough. Like, it helps.
That is the first indicator to my brain that, “okay, it’s time to wind down and go to bed.”
Another habit that I have is, I wash my feet
I wash my feet and wipe them dry before getting into bed. I feel like that cleans out the energy. One is, yes, you’re putting clean feet into your bed, which is anyway hygienic. But on top of that, your whole day, whatever you’ve been up to, walk around, even if it’s inside your house or if it’s outside, whatever it is, you’re not going to carry that with you into bed.
It’s a way of washing off whatever is unclean, or useless energy, just washing it out. It’s just a symbolic way of doing that, though you’re physically also cleaning your feet. And that is something that relaxes me.
If you’ve had a particularly tiring or difficult day, then take a bit of warm water (not hot, just warm water) in a bucket and then place your feet in it for a few minutes. And then pat your feet dry. That also helps a lot that really soothes you and it’s as if that warm water is drawing out all that tiredness out of your system, and out into the bucket of water.
So now we’ve done the two things to physically clean and calm ourselves, next comes the mental cleaning. And it’s extremely important that, I mean, I’m sure you’re tired of listening to this, it’s a known thing, but I will repeat it anyway…
Disconnect digitally, disconnect from the internet particularly
Turn off the WiFi or 4G on your phone. Basically just disconnect yourself from the internet, from the outside world. You shouldn’t be looking out for WhatsApp messages, or Telegram messages, or you know, Instagram, Facebook, whatever it is.
You shouldn’t be watching out for those because that’s just keeping your brain active. And unfortunately all these notifications, all these messages and replies, and you know even chats on groups, what they’re doing is a triggering your brain. They’re giving you like tiny little dopamine hits. They’re tricking your brain into feeling a sense of being rewarded.
So it’s very dangerous. It’s a very addictive feeling. And if you cut away this feeling, then that again helps you relax and bring your mind to the present moment. Bring your mind to your real life, versus your online life.
Believe me when I say this has been a huge game changer in my sleep health. Oh my god!
So turning off the internet, disconnecting at a certain point, at least an hour before you go to bed, minimum, will make a world of difference. But even if you can’t do it an hour before bed right now, you can ease into it.
Start with at least half an hour, and then build up and go further up and see how long of a gap you can give before you going to bed and being disconnected from the internet.
Now I allow myself the use of my phone for one thing only, and that is reading a book
I’m very comfortable reading a book with night mode on on my phone. I find that very comfortable. More so than a physical book now. And it’s very funny that I say this because I used to be one of those people who would refuse to read books digitally years ago!
I’d be like, “no, no, I have to have a physical book in my hand. And the feeling of reading from the paper, wow, it’s so good”, and whatnot. And I still believe that’s a great feeling. But unfortunately over the years, as I have gotten used to reading books on my phone, I have become very comfortable with this. So I have forgotten how to lie in bed and hold a physical book and read. I don’t even know how to do it.
It’s just so much more convenient with a smaller phone. And of course you can adjust the size of the font to suit your eyes. You don’t have to read it in very small fonts, so that helps. And the night mode again helps, so it’s a greyed out background on my iBooks app, and that’s really useful to me.
If you want to read before going to sleep, and if that is something that relaxes you… because with me that signifies the end of my day when I open my book. A lot of the time I’m reading fiction, but sometimes I’m reading non-fiction too. But particularly if I’m reading my fiction book, if that is what I open out, it again signals to my brain that, “okay, you’re done with any work, or any internet exploration, or anything else for the day. It’s time to just slow down and read and go to sleep.”
Reading relaxes me, it soothes me, and I can just fall asleep
So even if you’re somebody who doesn’t have a habit of reading, you’re not so much into books, you can still try this habit. You know, read even that one page or two pages because, if anyway books bore you, you’re going to fall asleep. Best case, you develop a really nice, healthy habit of reading more. Worst case, the books bore you to sleep so you have a great night’s sleep anyway. Haha
So you know, attempt it, start reading. And yes, if you prefer reading a physical book to one on your phone, then go for it. It’s great. Except that, you know, the steps into falling asleep after that is you have to keep the book aside, turn off the light, and fall asleep.
Whereas with the phone, you set the screen to auto lock in a few minutes anyway, most of us do that. So you just read and you just fall asleep and the phone goes off by itself, that’s it. You don’t need the light on or anything for it. Anyway, so yeah, reading is one habit that’s really, really helpful to fall asleep.
So now between washing my feet, mouth and all that, and then reading my book, there are a couple of things that I do.
One is to do some gentle stretches
You can do it right in bed if you want. You can get into bed, and sit or lie down, whichever, do a few gentle stretches. That stretching really helps. It doesn’t have to be a very heavy physical exercise or anything.
Just stretch out on either side. And twist a little here and there. Lift your arms, feet, turn them round, you know, just a few stretches. Those helps to relax, and especially you’re relaxing your body, but of course you’re also mentally relaxing.
And the other thing that I do is, I recite some mantras
Now you don’t have to recite mantras in particular, you can also recite affirmations. You can recite any positive energy giving things. Like it could be prayers, it could be anything you want. It could be spiritual or non spiritual.
It could even be, by the way, a gratitude list. Where you’re stating out, whether it’s loudly or in your mind to yourself, but you’re stating out specific things that you’re grateful for. Something positive that uplifts your energy and makes you feel joyful, or even just calm and peaceful from within.
So any one of these things or a combination of them, you know, you can actually do those.
For me, the mantras that I recite are ones for world peace
So this practice started, again, in the middle of last year and that was a game changer for me! Initially I used to set intentions for the health and well being of all my loved ones, and all the things I cared about, etc. And it was more focused and centred on my little world.
But one of my gurus, she mentioned to us as a part of this class that I attend, she mentioned to our group that, “when you are praying for, or when you’re wishing for the well being of only your loved ones, your family or your friends, or even things like your home, your business, whatever it is, when you’re asking only for the well being, the good energy for these specific people, or this particular area of your life, you’re severely limiting yourself.”
We are all beings who are immensely powerful
By just restricting ourselves to wishing for the well being of only a specific set of people, what happens is our power, a lot of power, a lot of our capacity, just goes to waste. So she suggested that we switch this out and go wide. Wide wide wide as we can, for the well being of the whole world, all beings on earth. Going outwards, for the well being of the entire universe. And the peace and the fulfilment of everybody.
And when she said that, that really hit me, it hit home to me. Ever since then, I switched. And instead of specifically trying to control things, and ask for this particular thing, for this particular person, or certain things to come into my life, I just started focusing my intentions, focusing my energies on the entire world. And it’s been so beautiful.
The best part about this is that when I focus the energies on the entire world, I don’t have to think about who’s included and who’s not included. Because obviously everyone’s included in this. So I’m not forgetting anybody, right?
I’m not remembering, “oh, I’m thinking of my sister, and my husband, and my dad. Oh no, I forgot to pray for my mom!” Haha That’s just an example. But that’s not gonna happen, right? Because you’re just surrendering, and allowing a force that is greater than you to take over. And then just spread that positive energy to uplift the entire world, the entire universe.
Often when I’m doing this, you know, doing my mantras, I imagine everybody in the world doing this
I mean, wow! Imagine the power if everybody just lets go of, “me, mine”, and then embraces the whole world as theirs. And says, “you know nothing is mine, everything is mine. So here’s to the peace, the well being, the joyfulness, the fulfilment, of everybody in the world.” It’s a very, very powerful feeling.
So yeah, try this the next time you decide to pray, or set intentions, or speak affirmations. Expand your vision. Focus on something a lot bigger than you, yourself, and your personal world. And believe me, you will really experience magic out of this.
And finally, if there are nights where I just am not able to relax, if I’m a bit wound up, then I use aromas
Often it’s lavender, sometimes it’s eucalyptus oil. These are pure essential oils. So you just put a drop of lavender in your palm, this tiny little drop, and then you rub it together *palms rubbing sound*. And then you cup your palms over your face, your entire face. And then you breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly.
You do that, you know, seven times, eight times, nine times, or however many times you feel like. Very, very slowly. And that centers you, and brings you to this moment. You let go of all other thoughts that may be troubling you, or may be running around in your mind, and then you come to the present, and get ready to sleep.
So as a recap, here are the things that have worked wonderfully for me as night time rituals
- One is, disconnecting, from the internet, disconnecting digitally, turning off all notifications and cutting myself off from the world.
- Next is, cleaning my mouth using a tongue scraper, doing a bit of gargling, completely freshening up my mouth.
- Then, either just washing my feet, or if required, soaking them in warm water for a while and then tapping them dry.
- Next, some gentle, relaxing stretches to just relax my body, stretch it out, and make it feel loose and comfortable
- After that, reciting some powerful mantras or affirmations. Or listing out the things that I’m grateful for. Preferably making a list, and sticking to that, and repeating the same thing every single day. That’s what makes it ritualistic and makes you feel comfortable in it. And again, most strongly signals to your brain that it’s time to relax and go to sleep.
- And on days when I particularly need an extra boost of relaxation, using essential oils. Particularly lavender is very, very soothing. So just putting a drop on my palm, rubbing it, and then breathing it in slowly and deeply a few times by cupping the palms over my face.
- Then finally, just reading and slowly drifting off to sleep.
I hope all these night time ritual pointers are very useful to you.
Apart from these practices as a daily ritual, there are a few more things which could help you with getting a good night’s sleep
Not having tea or coffee after, at the most three o’clock, three thirty in the afternoon. Beyond that don’t have tea, coffee, any caffeinated drinks at all. That again was a game changer. I used to drink tea every day at five thirty, six o’clock or whatever. And oh god, stopping that helped me fall asleep a lot faster and stay asleep a lot longer.
If you want to have a warm, herbal tea in the night, then camomile tea or lavender tea, these two help a lot.
And at some point in your day, to any of your food or even a beverage, topping it with a little bit of grated nutmeg helps to improve the quality of your sleep.
So yeah, these are all the things I can think of right now to help with really good, comfortable, long sleep cycles
And even if you wake up in the middle of the night for anything, you will be able to fall back asleep a lot more smoothly, a lot more easily and quickly. So do put these practices into place and follow them for a while – some of them, all of them.
Of course it’s totally up to you to develop your own night time, healthy, gentle rituals. And once you do, I would love to hear back from you. Let me know…
- what you thought
- how you felt
- what it is that you’ve been putting into practice
- what’s working for you
- what’s not
I always love to hear back from my listeners. So yeah, drop me an email. And that’s it for today! 🙂
Transcribed using Otter
“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.
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