Sleep: Kimberly Rossi On Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen
Unplug: Avoid devices and blue light after 8:30–9 pm that can disturb natural rhythms. Keep phones away or on airplane mode and WiFi routers far away or turned off.
Getting a good night’s sleep has so many physical, emotional, and mental benefits. Yet with all of the distractions that demand our attention, going to sleep on time and getting enough rest has become extremely elusive to many of us. Why is sleep so important and how can we make it a priority?
In this interview series called “Sleep: Why You Should Make Getting A Good Night’s Sleep A Major Priority In Your Life, And How You Can Make That Happen” we are talking to medical and wellness professionals, sleep specialists, and business leaders who sell sleep accessories to share insights from their knowledge and experience about how to make getting a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.
As part of this interview series, we had the pleasure to interview , Kimberly Rossi Certified Ayurveda Health Consultant and Registered Yoga Teacher.
Kimberly Rossi has been studying, practicing, and teaching Vedic Science -Ayurveda, Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation since 1998. Her passion is sharing the teachings, making things easy to follow, and empowering people to make positive lifestyle changes, so one may be happy, healthy, and whole –the best version of themselves and creators of the best life possible. Her professional career has been leading wellness-based businesses, in four- and five-star destinations, for over 25 years, across the country, in Europe, and the Caribbean. Currently, she is the Director of Wellness & Business Development at the Art of Living Retreat Center and Shankara Ayurveda Wellness, in Boone NC.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your backstory?
The day I turned 16 and got my drivers license I joined a health club. It was about 30 minutes from where I lived. And I would go before school. Back then, my car headlights did not automatically turn off, if left on. And I would drive to the gym in the dark, get to the gym when it was light out, forget to turn my lights off and come back to a dead battery -on several occasions. I did nautilus and aerobics (Jane Fonda style) and found not only my body toned, but my mind clear, and overall felt happy. From here I learned to teach Step Aerobics, all types of fitness classes, lifted weights, explored healthy eating, and sold health club memberships, as my first career job. In the early 90’s I had an opportunity to teach fitness in a Centro Beneserre in Tuscany, Italy. I fell in love with the destination spa industry as it was more than fitness, it was healthy diet, beauty treatments, and an educational element on how to live well. I came back to the US and found another destination spa, developed by one of the original ISPA founders, and dove deep into wellness -physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. From here, spas started to be implemented into every resort and entered the hospitality industry -work hard, play (or party) harder. And I needed balance. At 28 I studied, practiced (sincerely), and started to teach yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing techniques) and started to find balance. It has been an art and science for me, personally, to be happy, healthy, and whole through my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and now at 50. I have often celebrated being a women in balance. And then wasn’t. The practice of being in balance changes, with the seasons, years, decades, and lifecycles. I have never had a challenge with sleeping until recently, perimenopause. Actually, I have not had A LOT of the experiences I am currently experiencing, but am sure glad I am a teacher, practitioner, and student of Ayurveda (since 2004). Ayurveda is the oldest healthcare system on the planet, its purpose is to heal and maintain the quality and longevity of life through diet, lifestyle, stress management, cleansing, and herbs.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this particular career path?
Since exercise had made me feel so good and having my father pass at 42 years young, I really believed that everyone needed to and should work out, so I sold health club memberships and taught fitness classes for a great company. Teaching fitness in Italy and managing high profile resorts spas in the US, Caribbean, and Latin America gave me the opportunity and exposure to all types of wellness modalities, passionate healers, and gifted teachers. I was a sincere student, practicing all kinds of things, all the time, and sharing the knowledge with others. Today, I find myself incredibly healthy and lucky to be leading, teaching, and facilitating Ayurveda wellness and cleansing at the country’s most authentic Ayurveda wellness center. I was taught at the very beginning that the best teachers have the deepest practice. I also learned along the way that 90% of disease is poor choice, 10% is pre dispositioned (which we know now we can change). So good health (or disease) does not happen by chance.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the sleep and wellness fields? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
As leaders in wellness, I think it is important to walk the walk and talk the talk. That does not mean I am perfect; in fact, it is in my imperfections and imbalances that makes me relatable. So, my contribution is the ability to assess a person, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and determine what the root cause is that is hindering them from being the healthiest, best version of themself. And creating a plan, breaking it down into simple steps, to inspire positive action towards their fullest expression of health (self). I am relatable, intuitive, knowledgeable, realistic, and able to influence sustainable change –actually it is not me, it is Ayurveda…
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have read so many books that have had a significant impact, for me, at that particular time in my wellness evolution. But if I had to say just one, it would be the I AM Discourses by St. Germain. It spoke to my soul, in a way that inspired positive action, beyond my rational mind.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
I have two:
Health is not the mere absence of disease; it is the dynamic expression of life. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
This quote for me goes far beyond the physical, mental, and emotional bodies. It represents being the best version of myself, maximizing my human potential, and remembering my reason for being here. And for me, it is to serve humanity in the arena of health and well-being.
A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s life. Dr. Vasant Lad
I disliked routine in my twenties, I found it ‘boring’, so when I read that I discovered, it was no coincidence that I was out of balance. From there, I started to merge my daily cycle with nature.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Let’s start with the basics. How much sleep should an adult get? Is there a difference between people who are young, middle-aged, or elderly?
We look at how much sleep a person should get is based on their constitution or elements predominant in their genetic makeup.
- Vata: Predominately ether and air, Vata gets easily depleted and needs extra (8–9 hours) sleep (though they may crave less). Their sleep can be light, restless and dreams, spacy, creative or abstract! A Vata sleep imbalance involves difficulty sleeping, sleepwalking or talking, grinding teeth, waking early or frequently at Vata time (2 to 6 am), not feeling rested, or feeling anxious. Vata goes out of whack during travel /jet lag. Here are ways to balance Vata. Follow a routine, sleep by 9–9:30 pm and try an Abhyanga (self-massage) with sesame oil if possible daily, a scalp, and Paada Abhyanga (foot massage) before sleeping and wear cozy socks. A comfortable, fluffy bed with a weighted blanket could also help!
- Pitta: Predominately fire with some water, Pitta needs regular (7–8 hours) of sleep and to relax more. They are light sleepers, can fall back asleep easily if awakened but have difficulty sleeping especially between 10 pm to 2 am Pitta time. They are typical ‘productive’ night owls (but need sleep to affect cellular repair!) An imbalance can make them wake up feeling hot, sweaty, and irritated. Their dreams can be fiery and realistic, with problem solving! Here are tips on balancing Pitta. Sleep before 10 pm or avoid stimulating activities in the night, stimulants, spicy, rich food, and try aromatherapy with sandalwood. Use coconut oil or ghee for Abhyanga, a foot massage and application of a few drops on the center of the head before sleeping. Avoid overheating with fewer covers and a firm mattress.
- Kapha: Predominately water and earth, Kaphas have deep (non-REM) sleep and need only 6–7 hours though they may crave more! They should sleep after 10 pm and awaken before 6 am. They generally don’t dream, recall their dreams or dream about the past. Avoid daytime naps that can aggravate metabolic disorders and obesity. An imbalance involves feeling too sleepy, sleeping too long, daytime fatigue, and daytime sleep. Here are suggestions to balance Kapha. Try a variety of, and vigorous yoga and exercise, spice up your routine (and diet), try Udwartana (dry massage) or light Abhyanga with olive or mustard oil.
Is the amount of hours the main criteria, or the time that you go to bed? For example, if there was a hypothetical choice between getting to bed at 10PM and getting up at 4AM, for a total of 6 hours, or going to bed at 2AM and getting up at 10AM for a total of 8 hours, is one a better choice for your health? Can you explain?
Ayurveda also puts great importance on the when of sleep. Thousands of years before modern scientists identified the circadian biological clocks that regulate our sleep as well as our mental, physical and emotional lives, Ayurveda understood and promoted the importance of the timing of activities, including sleep. Ayurveda also advocates the importance of consistency, and routine, to sleep. The most important time to be sleeping is 10pm to 2am. During this time of day, Pitta time, it is a dynamic time where all the organs are rejuvenating, central nervous system and adrenals are resetting, systems are rebooting. So, this is the most important time to be sleeping, otherwise we miss this resting period and put all systems into overdrive, which can lead us into imbalance, especially over time.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for our readers. Let’s imagine a hypothetical 35 year old adult who was not getting enough sleep. After working diligently at it for 6 months he or she began to sleep well and got the requisite hours of sleep. How will this person’s life improve? Can you help articulate some of the benefits this person will see after starting to get enough sleep? Can you explain?
When one is getting sufficient sleep the digestion, elimination, and detoxification are working optimally. The mind is able to think more clearly. We are less reactive and able to deal with stressful situations more rationally. When sleep is optimal we tend to choose right quantities of foods and more healthful choices instead of reaching for stimulants and sugar to ‘give us energy’. And as a woman our hormones are functioning optimally. Sleep sets us up to be in balance. When we are in balance, we choose things to keep us in balance. When we are depleted and imbalanced, we seek things that keep us depleted and imbalanced.
Many things provide benefits but they aren’t necessarily a priority. Should we make getting a good night’s sleep a major priority in our life? Can you explain what you mean?
Here is what the classical Ayurveda text Ashtanga Hrdayam has to say about sleep: “Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (good physique) and emaciation, strength and debility, sexual prowess and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death -all are dependent on sleep.” Ayurveda teaches us that sleep is one of the three pillars of health along with food and energy management.
The truth is that most of us know that it’s important to get better sleep. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives? How should we remove those obstacles?
Misuse of the senses is one of the main causes of disease. Misuse can be from overuse, underuse or wrong use. The withdrawal of the senses is how you can take back the control over external desires and put your senses in their right and useful place. Meditation is one of the best ways to train the mind and senses to turn inward. Self-discipline and self-reflection can support achieving our wellness goals. The ability to set goals and the ability to reflect on why I was able to follow my goal today, or why I consciously chose not to.
Do you think getting “good sleep” is more difficult today than it was in the past?
In general, yes, with the information overload, technological stimulation, drive to succeed and win at all costs, and putting our health aside for work/relationships/achievement. Self-love, discipline, and radical self-care are perhaps more challenging to practice today.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share “5 things you need to know to get the sleep you need and wake up refreshed and energized”? If you can, kindly share a story or example for each.
- Bed by 10pm and rise with the sun.
- Have dinner early (at least 2–3 hours before sleeping). Avoid late-night snacking.
- Keep your bedroom uncluttered, clean, and comfortable. Wear loose, comfortable pajamas.
- Avoid stimulating activity; try a relaxing shower, foot massage, gratitude journaling, self-reflection.
- Unplug: Avoid devices and blue light after 8:30–9 pm that can disturb natural rhythms. Keep phones away or on airplane mode and WiFi routers far away or turned off.
Sleep position: Generally, Ayurveda recommends sleeping on the left side; physiologically this aids digestion and lymphatic drainage. Bothered by a million thoughts? Try sleeping on your right.
Sleep Direction: South-North (head towards south) and East-West are idea. Avoid sleeping with your head towards the west or north.
What would you advise someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep?
To lay there and just rest/relax. At least there is some relaxing happening. Listen to guided meditation, inspiring knowledge, yoga nidra, or soothing music. And understand just laying there is more beneficial than getting up and eating, working, watching tv, etc.
What are your thoughts about taking a nap during the day? Is that a good idea, or can it affect the ability to sleep well at night?
Daytime naps: After a meal, a walk and resting on the left aids digestion. Kapha can avoid daytime naps. Naps are suggested for the emaciated, sick, elderly, infants; after surgery / trauma, a journey, and people doing strenuous or nighttime work.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, thank you for the opportunity and gifts that you have provided for me.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!