What’s Keeping You Up At Night? Ayurvedic Ways of Fighting Insomnia
Lack of sleep can slow down your daily functioning and can result in a deficit of concentration, which in turn, makes you prone to making mistakes. Luckily, Ayurveda prescribes several remedies for tackling insomnia and getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping well is a sign of good health by itself, but sleeping less could mean that you either already have an unhealthy condition, or may develop one due to prolonged sleeplessness. You can measure the quality of your sleep by observing whether you wake up fresh & well-rested in the morning, and by counting the number of hours you’ve slept.
Are You Suffering From Insomnia? Here Are Some Of The Symptoms –
Difficulty falling asleep at night
Waking up during the night
Waking up too early
Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
Irritability, depression or anxiety due to sleeplessness
Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
Increased errors or accidents
Ongoing worries about sleep (yes, that too!)
Long term insomnia and lack of sleep usually present as a result of stress, life events or habits that hamper sleep and its quality. Figuring out and dealing with the underlying cause can resolve insomnia, but sometimes it can last for years.
How Insomnia Occurs
Stress:Concerns about work, health, finances, family, or school can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to fall asleep. This, according to Ayurveda, leads to a “Vata” aggravation. This means that there will be a nervous system ‘unrest’ to keep you awake for the most part of the night.
Erratic travel or work schedule:Some work schedules may break circadian rhythms (an internal clock, such as your sleep-wake cycle), and this can lead to insomnia. Traveling through multiple time zones, sporadically working an early morning or late-night shift, or frequently changing shifts can mess up the sleep patterns, especially when you’ve not been able to rest well.
Poor sleeping habits:Poor sleeping habits include, for example, an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for working, eating or watching TV. Computers, TVs, video games, smartphones or other screens right before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle.
Eating too late in the evening: Having a light snack before bedtime is okay, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the food pipe after eating, which may keep you awake. According to Ayurveda, eating big meals late at night can also make you feel sluggish when you wake up in the morning.
Aging: Ayurveda says that, with age, catabolic reactions are on the rise due to Vata’s natural tendency to increase as you become older. This means you may be sleeping less. If you want to learn more about how the doshas reflect throughout the ages in our lives and how you can make changes in your life for a flawless aging experience, check out
Mental health disorders: Inadequate sleep and mental health disorders are interrelated viciously. Due to strong mental emotions, the mind gets preoccupied. The unrest alters or disturbs sleep patterns. Many mentally disturbed or depressed people complain of a lack of restful sleep.
Medications: Many prescription drugs for conditions like asthma, blood pressure, pain, allergies and colds, and weight loss products can disrupt sleep. Consult with your doctor and Ayurvedic practitioner to find out if you can replace any of your medications with natural, herbal remedies.
Medical conditions: Examples of conditions linked with insomnia/lack of sleep include: chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep-related disorders: Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night, interrupting your sleep and causing insomnia.
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol:Drinking coffee, tea, (diet) coke and other caffeinated drinks in late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at night. Nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.
How To Prevent Insomnia?
Firstly, understand the reason(s) for your poor sleep and insomnia, apart from medical reasons.
Think about your day and identify your problematic habits, like “I drank a coffee late in the afternoon” or “I had an energy drink during my break”. Try to avoid these. Drink some herbal tea instead!
Keep it simple!
Alcohol may seem like an answer, but in the end, it just messes with your mind. As aforementioned, alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.Prefer some herbal teas, like chamomile.
Even the content you watch on TV needs some consideration. Avoid movies or shows with violence and loud noises, or horror movies which keep you in suspense. If you have to, watch spiritual content (not necessarily religion-based) or light romcoms and so on. The idea is that it should be soothing to your senses.
A candle-light dinner (which doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic!) or a light, wholesome dinner a few hours before going to bed is nourishing and satisfying for your body and helps you get adequate sleep.
A glass of spiced (cardamom or cinnamon accordingly) warm milk before bedtime can help you fall asleep.
Keep it light!
Stress related reasons affect us all. If you know you can’t get rid of the cause of your stress (for example, you might have a very stressful job or a big family with lots of requirements), figure out a way to manage it week by week, or day by day. If you want to learn more about how you can set your mind to dealing with stress and other external factors negatively affecting your daily life, check out The Sattvic Mind: The Ayurvedic Secret to Mental Health & Emotional Bliss
Meditation is the best answer. Also, consider Ayurvedic therapies like Shirodhara for mind and body relaxation. It may be available at an Ayurvedic center near you.
Set a sleep pattern for yourself and stick to it. Even if you’re traveling different time zones. This is how you tackle insomnia and other sleep problems.A head or foot massage may be all you need to help you relax.
Read More: Ayurvedic Massage: Everything You Need To Know About Abhyanga
Diffuse aromas. For example, use these aromas separately or blended:
- Holy basil oil
- Rose geranium oil
- Fennel oil
- Orange oil
- Marjoram oil
A good night’s sleep is something that can pace your next day or week. Rest repairs your body. Let us know if you follow any Ayurvedic tips for tackling insomnia and sleep problems.
Have a good night!
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this document may be viewed as the diagnosis or treatment of any medical disease whatsoever. The contents of this document are the opinions of the author based on his learning and experience. This document is meant only for educational purposes. The Ayurveda Experience is not liable or responsible for the suggestions made herein.
Please consult your primary care physician before implementing any change in your diet or lifestyle.