Beating Insomnia with Ayurveda
by Dr. Chandan - Senior Ayurvedic Physician, Ananda in the Himalayas
Ayurveda lays great emphasis on three specific values, which are considered as the main factors for well-being. They are sleep, food and good conduct. These three have been considered as pillars of life, health and well-being.
Proper sleep is essential for life and is an important factor for the overall happiness. In absence of a good quality, undisturbed, solid nights’ sleep, many health issues can come up. As per Ayurveda, sleep disorders can be treated by the palliative method (through internal medication) or through an external treatment called Shirodhara (Process of pouring of medicated oils on the third eye, between the eye brows…)
The amount of sleep that any person needs depends upon the constitution of the body.
Ayurveda defines all the disorders as issues arising due to imbalance or excessive concentration of Kapha, Pitta or Vata. People with Kapha constitution can sleep about eight or nine hours while those with primarily Pitta constitution sleep about seven to eight hours. People with Vata constitution cannot get more than six to seven hours of sleep. Temporary factors and emotions like stress, pain can alter the sleeping pattern.
Usually, it is the unbalanced Vata in the body that results in insomnia. Vata may get aggravated or disturbed in the body due to high stress, excessive exercise, excess sexual activity, eating too light or too heavy meals, fasting, or staying up late into the nights… One simple way to tackle temporary insomnia is to balance the lifestyle and bring the rhythm of the body to match the natural rhythm of nature, meaning eating, working and sleeping at the right time.
The amount of sleep that the body needs also depends upon the age.
Babies can sleep as much as 15 or 16 hours while children can sleep upto 10-12 hours. Elderly people rarely enjoy a sound, unbroken sleep of more than four or five hours. Ayurveda considers that during childhood the body constitution is more oriented to the Kapha while adulthood is more skewed towards Pitta and the old age is the Vata stage of life.
Shirodhara has been found to be very effective in the treatment of Insomnia.
The Shirodhara treatment should only be done with an expert therapist, using correctly blended oils (as per the Ayurvedic texts). It involves the pouring of warm medicated oil or buttermilk onto the third eye in the middle of the forehead in a continuous stream for 45 minutes. The therapist decides which type of Ayurvedic oils are to be used, depending upon the cause of the insomnia and the constitution of the person.
Home Remedies for good nights Sleep:
- Establish a regular time to sleep and wake up.
- Drink at least 10 glasses of water each day.
- Look to Ayurvedic treatments such as the Shirodhara whenever possible, Ayurvedic treatments help to treat the root causes of insomnia.
- Use Ayurvedic Oil like Dhanvantram, Jatamasi at home and massage into the head and shoulders before retiring to bed.
- Ensure the bed is comfortable and the environment is relaxed.
- If you get anxious at night time, maintain a journal and write down your daily worries and stress points.
- Avoid stimulants at night, like caffeine, sugar and alcohol.
- Avoid eating heavy meals and eating late at night.
- Resist napping during the day.
- Do regular exercise, including Yoga.
- Meditate daily for 20 mins.
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