a wink of sleep

Keep Your Sleep Without the Sheep

When was the last time you woke up feeling rested? I mean really rested.

There was a time when I would wake up consistently, dreading the glance at the clock and see it blaring at me in red, 4:00am. Unable to return to that dreamy sleep, my mind would start churning out useless worries.


If you remember me mentioning the time of day for each dosha in Ayurveda (find out your dosha here), then you will recall, the time for vata is 2:00am to 6:00am (and 2:00pm to 6:00pm). And if you read that, then you might remember how healthy digestion (food, thoughts, experiences) is at the root of health when it comes to Ayurveda.


So you might say that I was possibly trying digest my thoughts. And when we’re not in balance with our doshas, we may find we’re feeling a little flighty, a little sluggish, a little anxious–this could describe our state of mind, and also our digestion.


And those states are not so good for promoting that deep, “sleep like a log” sleep.


And then we’re running to catch up…..caffeine in the AM to get us juiced. Alcohol in the PM to us shut down. Wired, but tired.


But honestly, I feel that utilizing power of caffeine and alcohol mindfully (meaning it’s not just a habit, but a mindful decision) can be ok to some extent.  I’m of the mindset of moderation–sometimes, not a lot. (Unless of course you’re dealing with a health condition that precludes their use).


Here’s the thing(s) about Caffeine:

  • Sleep drive is created by a build up of a chemical in the brain, called adenosine. As adenosine accumulates it makes us feel sleepy and eventually leads to sleep onset


  • Caffeine blocks adenosine, making us feel more alert and possibly impedes sleep if we drink it too late in the day


  • Caffeine increases dopamine, our motivation neurotransmitter–making you one, want to use it more, but also can inhibit norepinephrine, causing you to feel more alert.


  • Caffeine suppresses melatonin production, which is a natural compound that is signaled to release when we’re falling asleep


  • Aim to have your last caffeinated beverage by 2 PM at the LATEST. It takes 8 hours to reduce the concentration of caffeine in our blood by 50%. Meaning you’ve still got 50% left in your system, 8 hours after you ingested it!


  • If you’re drinking more than 2 cups of coffee per day then cut back slowly to reduce withdrawal symptoms (headache, irritability, etc)


And let’s chat about Alcohol:

  • Alcohol reduces REM sleep: REM stands for “rapid eye movement” stage of sleep. This is your mentally restorative sleep stage. Here in that stage, your heart rate and respiration actually increase. It’s when you move information from short term memory to long term memory storage–less time in REM means less long term memory storage


  • Alcohol produces a “rebound effect” after it wears off. You then move into lighter sleep and increases the amount of times you wake during the second half of the night


  • Women may be more affected by alcohol during sleep


  • Calculate your alcohol “cut off time.” It takes 1 hour to metabolize one standard drink. So, if you drink 2 drinks and your bed time is 10 PM, then you need to STOP drinking by 8 PM


Caffeine and alcohol can be aggravators to vata and pitta doshasSo be particularly wary of these if you tend towards these constitutions.


Go back to the mindful choice “to have” or “to forgo.” And if you choose “to have,” then understand how it’s going to make you feel. That’s empowerment. And if you’re willing to  maybe lose a little sleep over it, then by all means, ENJOY! (that’s what I do).


So, have you found any new tidbits here that might help welcome that little wink of sleep? 


I welcome your feedback and if you find this information helpful, please share with your colleagues, your family, your friends. I would love to hear what supports your best sleep. Contact Tianna if you are seeking ways to add a more holistic lifestyle approach, called Yoga Therapy to improve your sleep, so you’ll be adding up all the luxurious hours you slept instead of counting sheep.

sleep better