Insomnia Relief with Ayurveda
To put it simply, insomnia is the inability to go to sleep at night, or once asleep, the inability to have a restful and sound sleep. This lack of sleep, or restless sleep, then interferes with our daily activities – both physically and mentally.
What Causes Insomnia?
Insomnia is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and an improper diet. These factors cause aggravation of Vata (air), which travels via the head channels, resulting in insomnia, or sleeplessness. Many things can cause aggravation to Vata, such as:
- Long gaps between meals
- The drinking of coffee or tea before going to bed
- The intake of dry and cold food
- Withheld emotions
- Disturbed sleeping patterns
- Ill health
- Over excitement
What Are the Symptoms of Insomnia?
The symptoms of insomnia are the inability to fall asleep once going to bed, constant waking up during the night, waking up too early in the morning, tiredness and fatigue during the day, inability to concentrate, and irritability during the day.
The Ayurvedic View of Insomnia
In Ayurveda, we call insomnia Anidra. The Ayurvedic humours (Doshas) responsible for insomnia are Tarpak Kapha, Prana Vata or Sadhak Pitta.
Tarpak Kapha is an auxiliary-dosha of Kapha (water), and its job is to nourish the cells of the brain, resulting in a restful night’s sleep. When this dosha is not in balance the brain cells go un-nourished, causing insomnia.
Prana Vata is an auxiliary-dosha of Vata (air); it creates a sensitive nervous system, and this, together with an aggravated Prana Vata, causes insomnia. It’s also linked to depression, anxiety and worrying.
Sadhak Pitta is an auxiliary-dosha of Pitta (fire) and it can be found in the heart. It’s in control of our emotions, spirituality, decisiveness and desires. Any imbalance creates problems for the sufferer, such as working too hard and too long, and becoming very demanding. This ultimately leads to insomnia.
Each sufferer is different, and differing combinations of doshas lead to insomnia. The Ayurveda treatment for sufferers revolves around balancing the aggravated body energies with the use of special diets, herbal medicines and customised lifestyle plans. Another important aspect of the treatment is learning how to relax the mind.
Things to Do at Home
Have a diet rich in fresh fruits, pasta, avocado and dairy products. Your diet should also include nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Include lots of leafy salads, with dressings of yoghurt, cream or vegetable oils. Avoid the use of refined or processed rice and flour – use brown rice and whole wheat flour. Have a sesame oil body massage followed by a warm bath. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and fizzy drinks. Also avoid working on your computer or watching television before going to bed. This causes too much stimulation, so do something restful such as listening to music, or reading a book.
Some Other Ideas
- In the morning, and on an empty stomach, have a teaspoon of liquorice root powder mixed into a glass of milk.
- Before going to bed have a glass of full cream milk mixed with green cardamom powder.
- Try a foot massage two-to-three times a day, and before going to bed. Use lukewarm mustard oil.