Travel Part 2: Sleep and ImmunityJun 23, 2019
This is the second of a three-part series on the topic of traveling, since many of us will be traveling this summer. Part one was about Food and Digestion. Stay tuned for Part 3: Movement.
If you don't sleep well, life is simply not as much fun. Not getting adequate sleep is one of the fastest ways to wear down your immune system. Travel presents certain sleep challenges, especially if you are changing time zones. As I mentioned last week, travel elevates the elements of Air and Ether, which comprise Vata dosha.
In the realm of sleep, elevated Vata means that our nervous systems get amped up. We may struggle with anxiety, have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or feel like our minds are going in a million directions at once. Specifically, Vata time, from 2am-6am, is a time when many travelers find themselves waking up with their minds running. (Note: these are all symptoms of elevated Vata which may also occur without travel if your life is too busy, you have an erratic schedule, your energy is ungrounded, or you are undernourished).
Changing time zones creates another challenge for sleep which generally can be remedied in a couple days as long as you stick to staying on a schedule with the time zone you are visiting.
Here are some general tips for creating good sleep and immunity, especially while traveling:
- Use Nasya Oil. Put a drop of oil on your pinky fingers and coat the inside of your nostrils. This lubricates the nasal passages which have a tendency to dry out during travel. The oil makes the nasal hairs stickier which catches germs and debris before they can enter your body and cause issues. Use Nasya Oil (or any oil you have handy) before flying, going places that are very populated, or before bed to calm and clear the mind.
- Rub the soles of your feet with sesame oil before you go to bed. This calms the nervous system and brings in the grounding earth element of Kapha which helps you sink into deep sleep and stay asleep.
- Don't eat within 3 hours of going to sleep. When you are simultaneously digesting and sleeping, both happen inadequately. It's best to do one at a time. Read more about having an Earlier Lighter Dinner HERE
- Drink warm milk (dairy or nut milk) with a pinch of nutmeg before going to bed. Warm milk is soothing and calming, and nutmeg is a sleep aid. It's basically a comforting liquid when you might find yourself in new territory.
- Travel with an eye mask and ear plugs. Being able to create dark and quiet for yourself is necessary in many places you might be sleeping. You can get the best rest when noise and light are minimized. If you are in a noisy place, try having a fan running, bring a white noise machine with you, or play white noise on your phone while you sleep to create more calm in your environment and a sound barrier.
- Take passionflower, chamomile, and or lemon balm tea or tincture. All of these herbs are helpful for sleep. They can help you relax and unwind if you have been busy, stressed or overly focused during your day.
- Go to bed before 10pm in the timezone you are visiting. When adjusting to a new place, or moving around a lot, the nervous system can be on overdrive. Staying up past 10pm, puts you into Pitta time with the solar/lunar cycle. Pitta time at night (10pm-2am) is when the mind will start being more active and anxiety, plans, or projects can rule your life. Use the ease and weight of the earth element in Kapha time (6-10pm) to invite nourishing sleep that will set you up for a fabulous tomorrow.
- Be in the present time zone. If you are traveling across time zones, forget about what time it is at home and focus on aligning to the time zone where you are. You will adjust quickly and feel less spacey.
These are simple, inexpensive ways to support yourself to sleep well and stay healthy while you are traveling, but you can also apply them when you are at home. If you have ongoing issues with sleep and want to work with me to resolve the issues, please reach out for an Ayurveda Consult at [email protected]
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