Insomnia is a sleep disorder – a habitual sleeplessness that is characterized by inability to fall and stay asleep. Insomnia is becoming a common ailment since this modernized life demands for more time to do complete our task and keeps us restless and occupied. But deprivation of sleep creates many health challenges which worsens the general health. Insomnia medicines seemingly reduces the symptoms while Ayurveda treats the underlying reason of insomnia.
Why is sleep so important :
Sleep not only provides us rest and energy for next day, it is a chance that our body gets to repair the wear and tear of the previous day and refresh the mind and soul for the next day run. It provides a healthy and happy state of mind, improves concentration, proper adrenal function and slows down aging process. Our mind and emotions also gets balanced during sleep. A quality sleep is a deep sleep where our senses withdraw, mind rests enabling our organs to rejuvenate.
The amount of sleep necessary for each person depends on their prakriti or body constitution and age factor. Persons with
Vata predominance – 6-7 hours
Pitta predominance – 7-8 hours
Kapha predominance – 8-9 hours
Also children need more hours of sleep while the aged person seldom get good sleep.
Causes of Insomnia :
Anidra is the term used in Ayurveda for sleeplessness. It can be caused due to the aggravation of doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata induced sleep disturbances are caused when the synchronization of dhi, dhriti and smriti is impaired. Your mind becomes identified with senses and it rocks all the events and the emotions attached to the events of the day. This forbids your mind from resting and keeps your sleep away. Aggravation of vata results in hyperactiveness, anxiety and fear.
If it is a Pitta imbalance, you fall asleep quickly, but wake up before dawn and have trouble in falling asleep again. An intermitted sleep is also caused by a sudden emotional trauma.
Kapha disorder makes the person sleep long and deeply, but wake up lethargic, lazy and feel exhausted and dull throughout the day.
Falling out of nature’s phenomenon is also a valid reason for sleeplessness these days. According to Ayurveda our mind and body should go aligned with nature’s cycle. Dhinacharya gives guidelines to daily routine for a hale and healthy lifestyle.
Looking into the nature’s cycle, 6pm to 10 pm is Kapha period. Kapha signifies the quality of heaviness which is ideal time for sleep. We usually feel sleepy from 9, but we resist it on account of the duties yet to be completed. We sit to do our remaining work after 10, which is Pitta period (10pm to 2 am). It provides mental alertness and we feel hungry towards midnight. Later at night we lay down with full stomach and try to sleep when our belly is busy digesting the food. We get a light sleep (quality ofVata) from 2am to 6 am which is not a quality one for body to rejuvenate the organs. This is the reason behind Ayurveda stressing on the proper alignment with nature.
Treating Insomnia in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has a multi-dimensional approach towards each of the disorder. It has customized plans for each individual according to their cause of the disease.
General approach to cure are:
Accumulation of toxins in the channels of body disturbs the good health in two ways –
– hinders the nutrients to reach all the parts of body
– blocks the impurities from being flushed out of the body.
Detoxification of body would help in getting a refreshed physical and mental health.
A proper nutritious plan is also way to cure. A dosha balancing, nourishing diet is prescribed. A cup of warm milk with cardamom and nutmeg is prescribed to induce good sleep. Usually warm, heavy and sweet foods are recommended for enabling good sleep.
Ayurveda always emphasizes the strength of agni – the digestive fire as an important element in overall health. When food is properly digested, it gives a healthy sleep throughout night.
- Rejuvenation therapy :
Rejuvenation therapy helps to refresh body, mind and soul and restarts our physical system. Panchakarma, Shirodhara andother massages help to shed all the tiredness associated with stress
- Stress Management, Yoga and meditation :
Stress is a major factor that interfere your good sleep. Ayurveda recommends managing stress through Meditation, Yoga and some good breathing exercises. Incorporating some simple practices of the above would make you sleep at ease.
Lifestyle tips for easy sleep:
- Make a routine of sleeping and waking patterns.
- Let your sleeping place be calm, tidy and dark.
- Avoid taking more caffeine-rich foods like coffee, chocolates particularly any time after lunch
- Rub some warm oil on the scalp and soles of the feet and gently massage which induces good sleep.
- Avoid taking spicy, heavy dinner. Take your dinner 3 hours before sleep so that all the food is digested while you go to bed.
- Wind-up all your work couple of hours before sleep. No Television, computer or your smart phone should be stimulating you to stay awake.
- Avoid rigorous exercises late in the evening.
- Take a long, warm bath before bed-time. To counteract exertion, as Charaka Samhita says, bath is the best remedy.
- Resist nap in afternoons.
- Bedtime is definitely not the right time to solve your problems, let go your worries and give positive affirmation to sleep.
- Make your bedtime before 10 pm – the ideal time to sleep and align yourself with nature’s rhythm.
A good night’s sleep is often a rewarding one. It offers you a refreshed new day to conquer your wishes.