Insomnia can be a rather unpleasant condition especially if it lasts for long periods of time. Find out what you can do to make sleepless nights a distant memory using ayurvedic treatment and yoga methods.
Insomnia is more common than we think. Due to the stressful lives we all live many of us find that sometimes we are unable to fall asleep or that our sleep is continually interrupted for no apparent reason. The quality of our sleep also suffers and we might find that our functionality is slightly impaired after a sleepless night.
Although we can suffer from insomnia at any age it seems that this symptom becomes more prevalent as we age. There are different types of insomnia depending on the severity of the symptoms. If symptoms last less than a week we suffer from transient insomnia,which is the least severe form of insomnia. If insomnia persists between one and three weeks it is classified as short-term insomnia. Symptoms that last for more than three weeks are characteristic for long term insomnia.
Most common symptoms of insomnia are : – irritability,inability to concentrate, fatigue or diminished performance at school or at work.
Ayurveda does not dictate eight hours of sleep every night for everyone, but quality of sleep and quantity of sleep required by an individual to completely recharge in mind,body and soul are considered crucial for health, bliss and longevity.
What is Insomnia ?
1. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person experiences poor sleep or has trouble sleeping. Insomnia can involve:
2. Difficulty falling asleep
3. Difficulty staying asleep (that is, waking up many times during the night), without necessarily having had any difficulty falling asleep
4. Waking up too early in the morning
5. Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep
6. In any of these cases the person feels tired the next day, or feels as if he or she did not have enough sleep.
Ayurvedic Interpretation of Insomnia
Ayurveda generally views insomnia as a typical sign of nervous distress, usually associated with vata type emotions such as nervousness, anxiety, hypersensitivity, excess thought and worry, and may be precipitated by a history of constipation, irregular digestion and eating habits, and systemic dryness.
Insomnia can be brought on by stress, excessive thinking, drugs or stimulants, excess travel, overwork or an irregular schedule and lack of routine. Essentially, it is a symptom of excessive movement.
Research has shown that people with insomnia are in a state of hyperarousal, with increased levels of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This is hard on the mind and body and will weaken them over time, thus creating greater sensitivity and often increasing the intensity and frequency of insomnia.
Dietary Treatments for Insomnia
A healthy diet can help in getting a good restful sleep at night. The following guidelines must be obeyed:-
1. For people who constantly suffer from insomnia problems, heavy foods must be avoided. If the person needs to have a heavy meal, then it must be taken at least three to four hours before retiring to bed. A walk after dinner helps to digest the food and bring good sleep at night.
2. A glass of milk before bedtime is good for sleep. Butter and ghee are also considered to be sleep-inducers.
3. As far as possible, spicy and oily foods must be avoided after dusk, especially if the person is prone to lose sleep at night.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Insomnia
Here are some ayurvedic suggestions for falling asleep easily and naturally and for obtaining a more rejuvenating quality of sleep:
– Since human beings are diurnal creatures, following Nature’s pattern of sleep and wakefulness for us means rising with the sun or shortly before, and getting into bed early-no later than 9.45 p.m. Getting up before 6 a.m. is ideal, and 6-10 p.m. is the Kapha time of the evening, when sleep will come most easily. Follow this routine at the weekend as well.
– Arise and go to bed at about the same times each day. This helps your body and mind relax as the appointed bedtime approaches, and over time it conditions your physiology to fall asleep at that time.
– Ayurveda decrees morning the best time to exercise. If you exercise in the morning, it will help you fall asleep easier at night. Working out late in the day is not recommended as this will raise energy levels and set you up for activity rather than sleep. Exercise moderately, according to the needs of your constitution, every day.
– Do not eat a heavy dinner, and avoid spicy foods at night. Ayurveda recommends a light dinner eaten at least three hours before bed. A one-dish meal of a vegetable soup or mung bean kitcheree/kichdi is noursishing yet not too heavy. Do not drink too much water or other beverages after 6.30 p.m. Drink a cup of warm milk at bedtime to help lull you into sleep. Lace the milk with a large pinch of nutmeg for Vata, cardamom for Pitta and dried ginger for Kapha.
– A lower limb massage last thing before you get into bed is also a pleasant, relaxing activity and helps improve sleep quality. Use a light, non-staining oil such as sweet almond or jojoba. Your bedtime massage oil can be spiced up with a few drops of essential oil of lavender if you like-6-8 drops for 2 oz. of base oil. Take a very small quantity of the oil in your palm and massage your lower legs, from your knees to your toes, and your lower arms, from your elbows to your fingertips, with easy up-and-down strokes.
In most general cases, medication is not necessary to treat insomnia. The Ayurvedic consultant would first ascertain the cause of the sleeplessness and then eliminate it. This is enough to bring sleep.
But if sleeplessness persists, then medicines made from brahmi, vacha, jatamansi and amalaki are prescribed. They are provided in powder form, either collectively or separately. Massaging the head with sesame oil is also beneficial in treating sleeplessness.
Home Remedies for Insomnia
1. Take a glassful of celery juice and mix a teaspoonful of honey in it. Have this every night before going to bed. It will assure a restful sleep throughout the night.
2. Grind some fried cumin seed to a fine powder. Mix them with the pulp of a ripe banana. Eating this at night induces sleep.
3. Mix the juice of the leaves of the Indian sorrel with its oil in equal contents. This is to be stored in a bottle. Massage this oil into the scalp every night before going to bed. It will cool the brain down and help get good sleep.
4. For people suffering from chronic insomnia, there is a therapy known as shirodhara, which can be done at home. Boil about two liters of cows milk with 60 grams of amalaki/Amla (Emblica officinalis, Indian gooseberry) powder. The milk with curdle. Churn this curd by adding water and extract butter from it. Make the patient lie flat on the ground on a mat. Suspend the buttermilk from an earthen pot with a hole in its base, such that the buttermilk drips directly between the two eyebrows of the person on the ground. Continue this therapy for about twenty minutes. Within a few days the insomnia will be totally cured.
5. The best way to treat insomnia is to seek a change in the lifestyle. Make your life simpler and avoid tensions and worries. This will not only provide good sleep, but it will also keep the body free from several other diseases and infections.
Herbal Support for Insomnia
Tagara (Valerina Wallichii) -A Useful Herb For Insomnia
Tagara has an important place among medicinal herbs in Ayurveda.. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all scriptures of Ayurveda. In Dhanvantari Nighantu and Bhavaprakasha its activity is cited on the central nervous system. Tagara is beneficial for the eyes, alleviates the diseases of the head, works as an anti- toxin, antiepileptic, useful in hysteria and also destroys the evil powers. This drug is very useful in the case of insomnia. Acharya Charaka has mentioned Tagara as ‘Shitaprashamana’ (relieves cold sensation on the skin) drug. Bhavaprakasha mentioned Tagar under ‘Karpooradi varga’.
Tagara is bitter, pungent, sweet and astringent in taste (rasa) pungent in the post digestive effect (vipaka) and has hot potency (virya). It alleviates all the three doshas. It possesses light (laghu) and oily (snigdha) attributes. It is antieptleptic, analgesic and is beneficial for eyes. Tagar is Mastishkashamaka, Hridya Utejka and reduces blood pressure in larger doses. It is very useful in the patients of Insomnia.
Cardiostimulant but in large doses cause hypotension
Sedatives Nervine tonic
Yoga Asanas to cure Insomnia
Several yogic asanas are also prescribed, such as paschimottasana, savashana shirasana, sarvangasana, uttanasana, Balaashana, makarashana and pranayam, anulom vilom and brahamari pranayam and pronounciation of OM(AUM) for Insomnia.
– Yoga will benefit your sleep in many ways. The quality of your sleep will improve because of the stimulatory effect yoga has on the nervous system, and in particular the brain. The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation to the sleep center in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle.
– You will need less sleep because yoga increases the elimination of toxins from the body and rejuvenates the entire body right down to cellular level. The practice of breathing allows for more oxygen in the body providing clarity in the mind.
– It has been claimed that on average, for every minute you put into yoga you will need one minute less sleep. This makes yoga an excellent time investment.
– Yoga(asanas for sound sleep and breathing exercises like pranayama) will help you fall asleep sooner and improve the quality of your sleep so that you need less. You will have a more restful sleep because of the relaxing aspect of yoga and the subsequent relieving of stress, tension and fatigue.