By Jules Bakshi


A few years ago, I spent a week at an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala, India. I sat down with the resident ayurvedic doctor who asked me questions about my diet, sleep patterns, and medical history. The doctor told me that my sleep wasn't working for me. What did he mean my sleep wasn't working for me? I knew I wasn't getting the recommended 8 hours, and I began to explain why that probably wasn't going to change anytime soon (crazy work schedule, trouble falling asleep, etc.).

The doctor interrupted me and told me that it wasn't the amount of sleep that was the problem, but the quality of that sleep. Apparently, even if you can’t get those 8 hours, there are still ways to make sure that the sleep you do get counts. If your sleep is deep and relaxed, your body can use that time to heal itself, working out digestive problems, fighting off disease, and regenerating the immune system.

I was "prescribed" Shirodhara, a treatment used in sukhachikitsa (restorative therapy) that calms the nervous system, prepping the body for the optimal night’s sleep, full of restoration and healing. The treatment is a head and scalp massage that begins with a therapist pouring a special blend of warm nutritive oils, or sometimes buttermilk or coconut water, on the forehead, concentrating on the third eye. You know how amazing it can feel to have your hair washed when you go for a haircut? Shirodhara feels a lot like that, only better! It makes your scalp feel tingly, and it's true, my whole body fell into a deep state of relaxation.

My treatment was almost an hour long and I did not want it to end. I did sleep very deeply that night, and for several nights afterward. As an added bonus, my hair has never felt so silky and soft--after I washed out the oils, it looked super healthy and shiny for about two weeks! If you think your sleep could be serving you better, I can't recommend this treatment highly enough.