Ayurvedic name for Insomnia (Sleeplessness) is Anidra. It is a condition in which a person is unable to take proper rest. The patient is unable to sleep properly and this affects his daily activities.
One of the reasons that insomnia is on the rise is the high stress levels and time pressures associated with modern living. The people would gladly get more sleep if they could, but the information age, which was supposed to make everything more efficient, has just made everything busier. Many people complain of insomnia, with stress during the day making them too tense or worried to be able to fall asleep at night. Lack of sleep, in turn, creates more stress on the job and at home. However, it is important to know at the outset that not all people require the same amount of sleep. Sleeping cycles vary among people and throughout a person’s life.
Restful sleep is one of the three pillars of ayurvedic healing, the other two being diet and lifestyle.
Causes of Insomnia:
There are many causes that a person is not able to sleep properly. Insomnia mainly results due to mental disturbances.Any type of body pain, uncomfortable weather or surroundings, some disease also results in to insomnia. Overwork and extreme worries may also cause lack of sleep. People who have a history of improper digestion, constipation and habits of eating irregularly are more likely to suffer from insomnia.
Ayurvedic View of Insomnia:
According to ayurveda, the vitiation of the three doshas either taken all together or individually may result in to insomnia.
All factors, that are responsible for aggravation of vata and pitta ,along with environmental and dietary factors play an important role in sleep disturbances.
High vata type of insomnia is caused by Vaata imbalance or mental stress. People, who toss and turn, unable to fall asleep because their mind is spinning, have this disorder. It results with anxiety, worry, and rushed activity during the day. Where as in pitta imbalance there is intermittent awakening. You may fall asleep quickly but wake up frequently with palpitation, body pains, and emotional disturbances such as fear, anger, and sadness. Another pattern is that you wake up before dawn and find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Ayurvedic Lifestyle Changes for Insomnia:
Some lifestyle changes and herbal medicines can help treat the problem.
You can try these time-tested remedies:
- - Do some exercise everyday—but never late in the evening.
- - Avoid caffeine in all forms, especially after lunch time.
- - Avoid taking naps during the day.
- - Drink buffalo milk. It contains rich amounts of an amino acid, L-tryptophan, which induces sleep.
- - Take a nice, long, warm bath before bed-time. Charaka Samhita says that bath is the best remedial measure to counteract exertion.
- - Read a book or do some repetitive, calm activity such as chanting a mantra.Japa etc.
- - Avoid distractions that may hold your attention and keep you awake, such as watching a suspense movie or a thrilling game,TV serials.
- - Make your bedroom comfortable.Create a quiet, dark atmosphere. Use clean, fresh sheets and pillow and keep the room temperature comfortable.
- - To balance Vata, gradually introduce regularity into your lifestyle. Eating, sleeping, working, and exercising at the same hours promotes harmony. By varying routines with the seasons, you can better adjust to changes in the environment and climate.
Ayurvedic Herbs & Medicines for Insomnia
The useful herbs for the treatment of insomnia are:
- 1. Brahmi: It is a powerful brain tonic, which supports and improves all aspects of mental functioning. It is a calming and tranquillising herb. A cup of brahmi tea or powder or any other preparation with brahmi, taken at bedtime, will induce a peaceful sleep and its regular use will help to cure insomnia.
- 2.Vacha: (Acorus calamus) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of various ailments, such as epilepsy, headache,insomnia etc. it can be taken along with Amla, Brahmi powder at bed time.
- 3.Aswagandha: This is an overall tonic for greater vitality and longevity. It enhances coordination between the mind and senses which, according to Ayurveda, is essential for good sleep. The recommended dose is half teaspoonful of powder taken at night along with sugar+ ghee or warm milk.
- 4.jatamansi: It has been found to increase levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin. It is a sedative, anti-depressant, and anti-epileptic cardio-tonic and is regarded as one of the most effective remedies for neurosis. Though it normally has a sedative effect on the central nervous system and is used to tranquillise an anxious or over-stressed person, it has been observed that it can also stimulate someone who is suffering from fatigue. This is because it balances the organs and systems of the body. It can be taken as a powder, about quarter teaspoonful at a time. Or, soak it in warm water for 4-5 hours, strain and drink preferably at bedtime.
- 5.valerian: Indian valerian, also known as tagar in Hindi, works on the nerve channels by clearing out toxins from the blood, joints, tissues, colon and nerves. Its basic role is to rejuvenate. However, valerian should not be taken on its own. For, it can have a somewhat dulling effect. It is best used as part of some herbal preparation.
Some other beneficial ayurvedic medicines for insomnia are as follows.
Pipplimula churna: Take 1.5gm before going to bed.
Swamamakhshik Bhasma: Take 1 gm of swamamakhshik bhasma with jaggery (gur) before going to bed.
Vatakulantaka: 125mg may be taken twice daily with honey.
Nidrodaya rasa: 125mg to be taken with honey.
Panchkarma Therapy for Insomnia
Recommended Panchkarma are Shirobasti, Shirodhara, Nasya.
Abhyangam-This full body Ayurvedic massage using anti-Vata oils, such as sesame oil or narayana or bala medicated oils, relaxes the body and removes tensions, and induce sound sleep. Head massage with Brahmi oil is very effective for insomnia.
Pada Abhyangam or Foot Massage with Ksheerabala oil provides relaxation to the body and mind helps good sleep.
Yoga and Breath Therapy for Insomnia
- Alternate Nostril Breathing controls Vata and a hyperactive mind. At first, practice this only for 30 seconds, then gradually increase the time to 10 minutes. With patience and regular practice, Alternate Nostril Breathing builds mental endurance and adaptability.
- Along with breathing, practice postures and sequences (vinyasas) gently and rhythmically to balance Vata. The sequence should be custom-designed and changed every month until Vata is regulated.
- Make evening a time of quiet and peace. Relax and be peaceful after 9 p.m. Practicing Glottal Breathing with Womb Seal in bed is very calming.
- Yoga Nidra is a systematic form of guided relaxation.It has been found to reduce tension and anxiety.