Insomnia is a sleep disorder, when you have trouble falling asleep. The condition can be short-term or last for a long time, when it is called chronic sleep disorder. Sleep disorder may also include less sleep, restlessness while sleeping, and poor quality of sleep.
Insomnia can be of two types—primary and secondary. In primary insomnia, your sleep problem is not linked to any health problem. Secondary insomnia means you have trouble sleeping because of a health condition like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn, medication or maybe because of alcohol.
Ayurvedic approach to insomnia
In Ayurveda, insomnia is caused by degradation of the Vata dosha. Vata, Pitta and Kapha regulate the body functions. A normally functioning Kapha provides healthy sleep, while sleep disorders can take place with increased Vata and decreased Kapha. Psychological factors like anxiety, rage, envy, stress are the main reasons for poor sleep and insomnia.
Ayurvedic tips for good quality sleep
Do not indulge in overeating before going to bed. Also avoid eating just before bedtime. This can lead to heartburn and indigestion, making it difficult to fall asleep. Eating a big meal in the evening can slow down your digestion and cause sleep disturbance. Night time is the body’s time to rest, recharge, and repair, which it can’t do if it is working to process a big and heavy meal like deep-fried foods, etc. Therefore, it is always recommended to have bigger a lavish lunch and a lighter dinner.
Make lunch your biggest meal. Since digestion and sleep are intimately connected, at noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, your agni (digestive fire) is at its strongest level and can process a big meal properly. In the evening, digestion becomes weaker.
Experts suggest that you should have a sleep schedule, which means same sleep schedule every day. This will ensure that your body’s biological clock functions properly.
If you have sleep disorders, do some exercises. A sedentary lifestyle can also affect your sleep cycle. Exercising 20-30 minutes a day few hours before bed will help you get good sleep.
Avoid cigarettes and heavy drinking of alcohol in the evening.
You should also avoid doing other activities while in bed such as using mobile phones or computers. These activities prevent your brain from recognising your bed as a place to sleep.
Have warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg, cardamom and crushed almonds before going to bed. It is found that regular consumption of cherries help in inducing good sleep. Fresh tomato juice with 2 teaspoons of sugar and a pinch of nutmeg also helps to put you to sleep.
While almonds are a source of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, chamomile tea contains antioxidants that may promote sleepiness. Kiwis are also good to have as they are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, which help to improve sleep quality when eaten before bed. Walnuts are sources of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. White rice contains high glycemic index which promotes good sleep. Milk contains tryptophan and melatonin which provide soothing backdrop for a relaxing bedtime routine.
Herbs like Brahmi, Ashwagandha, Shankhpushpi and Jatamasi help in inducing good sleep. While Brahmi calms emotional turbulence, Shankhpushpi acts as a natural tranquilliser for anxiety neurosis that helps in improving sleep. Ashwagandha also has qualities of improving the quality of sleep and may help in treating insomnia. The leaves of the plant in particular contain the compound triethylene glycol, which promotes sound sleep.
Ayurveda also offers a range of safe and herbal medicines to boost good quality sleep without causing any harmful side effect.
Nidramitra for sound sleep
Nidramitra by Brihatri is an Ayurvedic proprietary medicine made with medicinal herbs, and is useful in enhancing quality of sleep and inducing sound sleep. The drug is very effective in treating insomnia. Nidramitra tablets calms the mind and body, thereby improving sleep quality. It helps to relieve stress, tension, restlessness, and disturbed sleep.
This herbal formulation possesses all sleep-inducing properties, and is safe, non-addictive without any side effects.
It is recommended to take two tablets before bedtime or as directed by your Ayurvedic physician.