How to Have More Effective Sleep Habits


What are the healthy ways that I can reduce the sleep quantity without having any negative impacts on day-to-day activities?

—Sreekanth, India


Dear Sreekanth,

Thank you for your question. Balance in all areas of our life as a devotee is important. Sometimes a problem exists as an opportunity to push us to change something in our lifestyle toward a solution. Here are some thoughts.

Do you eat lightly at the evening meal? Maybe a simple soup of vegetables is possible? Also, toxins in the system can irritate our intestines, causing restless sleep. Fasting one day a week, and three days a month, might help. Yogananda suggests this for overall health. It can be partial fasting, as well, on fresh fruit.

You may try Swami Kriyananda’s sleep drink before bed, which is warm milk and garlic, simmered for ten minutes.

The body needs exercise to sleep well at night. Be sure to exercise everyday.

Make sure your body is relaxed before bed from tensions of the day. Yoga asanas (postures) and tensing the body parts, as in the energization exercises, is a helpful practice to release any tension we hold at the end of a day.

Your environment where you sleep is important. Adjust as you can for having good air circulation and restful atmosphere. The head of your bed preferably should face east.

If you wake up exhausted you may want to check your mental state as you fall asleep. Before you fall asleep make sure you are giving all back to God, and let go of all worries. Give all your responsibilities of this earthly “show” to God. Rest in the thought of God is the Doer and rest in Him as the only reality. Try the affirmation as you fall asleep: “Peace flows through my heart, and blows through me like a zephyr. Peace fills me like a fragrance. Peace runs through me like rays.” Coming to a peaceful state in your nightly meditations is a very good thing.

Also, Dr. Peter Van Houten has written a wonderful book with many tips for restful sleep. It is Yoga Therapy for Overcoming Insomnia. This is a great resource of ideas on effective sleep habits.

Many blessings on finding the solution for yourself for a more restful sleep. Find the solution that works for you and your temperament.

Joy to you,
Nayaswami Hassi