Sleep is the “Real Health Insurance”


Make 2022 your year of deep restoration and rejuvenation. Every time you invest in your sleep you are incepting a cascade of wellness in your body.

man lying on bed beside short-coated black dogRecent data has shown that we can not “hack” sleep. As Traditional Chinese Medicine has purported for thousands of years, one hour of sleep before midnight is worth three hours after midnight. Matthew Walker the author of the amazing book, Why of Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, has devoted much of his research life to providing us with scientific studies to support what the ancients knew.


Our circadian rhythms are deep wired in our bodies. It is important to start bedtime earlier than many of us do because the more natural time to be asleep is by 11 pm, allowing the gallbladder and liver to do crucial repair work, as reflected in the Chinese medicine clock.

Lack of sleep disrupts our blood sugar regulation and, thus, sleep, is a non-food based way of getting our blood sugar back in line. And, lack of sleep is an obstacle to cure of almost every disease. Sleep decreases inflammation, increases moods and cognitive function, supports immunity, lowers stress hormones, and clears the nervous system of toxic chemicals (clearing out the tangles in the brain that are associated with dementia). Less than 4 hours has been associated with a higher risk of death and decreases Natural Killer Cells, which decreases our ability to fight viruses.

I know many of you would love to sleep better, but may not be able to “put yourself to sleep” or “stay asleep”. The amount of stress hormones, such as adrenaline (running from the proverbial tiger all day) and cortisol can be an impediment to sleep.

Humans were not programmed to immediately go from this level of activity to a sleep mode.

Thus a sleep hygiene routine is critical to tapering down the day:

  • Start winding down an hour before bed
  • Write down any uncompleted tasks; neatly stack work; or write down a “worry list” and let it go
  • Close down all work; shut down devices
  • Lower house lights and sound. Enjoy relaxing music or silence
  • Make yourself a warm caffeinated beverage (check out our ideas below)
  • Do evening sef-care regimens as a “sacred rite” instead of a forced ritual, perhaps including a warm bath (containing epsom salts and/or sleep inducing herbs or a warm shower which lowers core body temperature and induces sleep)
  • Prepare your sleep space, uncluttered, darkened and cool
  • Create a sleep ritual such as applying sesame oil with drops of lavender or vetiver essential oil to your feet. Or lift your legs up the wall and breathe deeply.
  • Once you are in bed, allow for time between wake and sleep.
  • Breath gently through the left nostril, gently closing off the right, for 9 deep breaths. The left nostril is our calm cooling, rest and relax breath
  • Or set a mantra with the breath, “I am peaceful”; “I am safe”
  • And, know that you have been and done enough for the day.


The ancient medical and life science of Ayurveda understood that we do better with routines and created the morning practice of dinyecharya.

  • Before you interact with the world and touch those electronic devices, grab the gift of your morning:
  • Lie in bed and think of 3 things you are grateful for from yesterday. Get into the “weeds” and make it as specific for you as you can.
  • Notice your breath: when you breathe in, say mentally, “I am breathing in”; when you breathe out, say “I am breathing out”.
  • Or, Light a candle, if you want to get out of bed and focus on the breath
  • Do a lovingkindness meditation starting with “May I be safe; May I be happy; May I be healthy; May I be at ease.” Extend that out to your family, your town, a stranger, a person that you find difficult to deal with, and then all sentient creatures on the planet. Make it your own.
  • And then, bring your eyes to the light, consciously. This is a powerful part of setting your Circadian rhythm for the day. There are various “Happy Lamps” sold on the internet that can be purchased to expose your eyes consciously to healthy UV rays in the first 30 to 60 minutes of waking. This can have a powerful effect on your mood and ability to sleep later in the day.

Hydrate- have that lovely glass of room temperature water or warm water with lemon or lime. clear drinking glass beside flower vase
Cover your body with organic warm sesame oil before the shower; move from the outer limbs to the inner limbs. Banyan Botanicals makes a range of sesame oils for this practice defined as Abhyanga in Ayurveda.
In the shower, utilize the immune boosting benefits of hydrotherapy: 3 minutes in the hot; 30 seconds in the cold, alternating 3 times
As you move to the kitchen, prepare a warm soothing breakfast: Oatmeal with unsweetened coconut milk, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon; or pastured eggs (sold now in most stores- “you are what the animal eats”) or a warm vegetable broth or miso soup; and a cup of warm chai- filled with spices to get your digestive system going.

And during the day, remember to care for your mental health: walk outside for at least 20 minutes, ideally, or consciously move and stretch.

Figure out the sweet spot in your caffeine consumption, most people need to cut themselves off in early afternoon. And, factor in some green tea into your day, which is rich in antioxidants and the naturally relaxing amino acid L-theanine.

Warming drinks at night with herbs and plants such as reishi mushroom, cacao, or ashwagandha root can soothe the nervous system after dinner and one to two hours before bed. Here is a lovely recipe adapted from Kate O’Donnell, author and Ayurveda expert. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that aids in resilience from stress and is tonifying. It also gently supports that thyroid and is a great aid to recover in women who have recently given birth, but can be used by both men and women.


1 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk
1 tsp organic Ashwagandha root powder
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
In a small saucepan, slowly warm the ingredients until steaming. Stir with a fork, whisk or use a milk frother to blend the spices. Pour into a mug and sip slowly and gratefully, as part of your nighttime routine.


purple flower in tilt shift lensHere are some of my favorite Herbs for sleep teas are (and remember that you can grow some of these in your garden, so consider that as you prepare for Spring):

German Chamomile (Matricaria recuititia). This herb is readily available and easy-to-grow and can be safely used by young and old alike (except those allergic to Aster plant family). It supplies deep support to the nervous system, digestive system, and is immune boosting.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). You either love its relaxation inducing aroma and taste…or hate it, and associate it with “dirty socks”. Biochemically, it stimulates the GABA, a stress-reducing inhibitory neurotransmitter. Some people have a paradoxical relationship with it, and, can be stimulated by it, so find your sweet spot.

Linden (Tilia). Tilia is one of those herbs, that if I had only 5 herbs to take to a dessert island, I would take it with me. Sweet, gentle and gladdening but at the same time deeply relaxing, it can be prepared as a simple throughout the day or added to sleep teas.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). This gentle herb is renowned for calming the mind for sleep and releasing patterns of repetitive thinking, allowing the body to fall asleep and stay asleep, improving sleep quality as well. Do not use Passionflower during pregnancy as it may stimulate uterine contractions.

California Poppy (Eschscholizia california) This is a nonopioid alkaloid member of the Poppy family that not only supports healthy sleep but also is antispasmodic and relaxes musculoskeletal tension. It is safe for children in lower doses. hops

Hops (Humulus lupulus). A long standing ingredient in brewing beer, hops is a natural sleep remedy for women in perimenopause and menopause. It contains phytoestrogens, which can support women in this transition to moderate hot flashes and irritability. AS a result it is not recommended for pregnant women, but it is a great tool for breastfeeding. And, as you can observe, this is the reason that beer is not the best health drink for men.

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis). An oh-so gentle herb, this grows beautifully in every garden in CT and due to its presence in the Mint family can overtake the patch. This a wonderful remedy for children for sleep and relaxation during the day. It is also cooling so it can gently reduce fevers, is antiviral and gladdening.

Many of these herbs are also available in herbal capsules from reputable companies such as Gaia Herbs, but the emotional and psychological positive effect of brewing a cup of tea is profound.


Melatonin. Your melatonin is produced by your pineal gland and is suppressed by three hours for every hour your eyes are exposed to electronic devices at night. Try to shut down those electronic devices post 9 pm or use “blue light” glasses if you need to be on the computer later. It is also a potent antioxidant. Dietary building blocks include folic acid, Vitamin B6 and B12, zinc, magnesium and tryptophan (a precursor of 5-HTP).

Magnesium. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in our bodies. It is a critical mineral for cellular processes, supports your nervous system and has been studied for migraines , muscle cramps, insomnia, and high blood pressure. It is contained in whole grains, beans, nuts and leafy greens, but because our soils are depleted. Some forms such as magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide can help the bowels to move. Remember that sugar and alcohol consumption can decrease functional levels in the body. Epsom salt baths are a great way to induce sleep.

Deeply honor the restorative, rejuvenative aspects of sleep. It is the real, health insurance and (it is FREE).

And, I would be honored to work with you to create a sleep hygiene routine and a mix of tea, tincture or supplements that would support your sleep. Please reach out if you would like to set up a consult, HERE.

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