Ayurvedic Treatment for Insomnia in India
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which people have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Having sleep that is not refreshing
Ayurvedic View About Insomnia
In India Ayurveda, Insomnia is known as Anidra. According to the Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas (Ayurvedic humors) responsible for this disease are Tarpak Kapha, Sadhak Pitta or Prana Vata.
Tarpak Kapha is a sub-dosha of Kapha (Water). It nourishes the brain cells and facilitates a good night’s sleep. Imbalance of this dosha causes poor nourishment of brain cells, leading to Insomnia. Sadhak Pitta is a sub-dosha of Pitta (Fire) and is located in the heart. It controls emotions, desires, decisiveness, and spirituality. Its imbalance makes a person demanding and workaholic, thereby leading to situations that may cause lack of sleep. Prana Vata is a sub-dosha of Vata (Air). It is linked to insomnia, worry, anxiety, and problems like depression. Prana Vata makes the nervous system sensitive; this sensitive nervous system coupled with an aggravated Prana Vata lead to insomnia.
In each India patient, different combinations of doshas can lead to the disease. The Ayurvedic treatment of Insomnia focuses on balancing the aggravated body energies through herbal medicines as well as customized diet and lifestyle plans. Besides that, relaxation of mind is also an important part of the treatment.
Who gets Insomnia?
Approximately 50% of adults in India experience occasional bouts of insomnia and 1 in 10 complain of chronic insomnia. Insomnia is approximately twice as common in women as in men and is more common in older than younger people.
Kinds of Insomnia
There are two kinds of insomnia:
- Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
- Secondary (co-morbid) insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (for example, asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain, the medicine they are taking; or a substance they are using (such as alcohol).
Insomnia also varies in how long it lasts and how often it occurs. Insomnia can be short-term (acute insomnia) or can last a long time (chronic insomnia). It can also come and go, with periods of time when a person has no sleep problems. Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is called chronic when a person has insomnia at least three nights a week for a month or longer.
There are still other ways to classify insomnia. One of the most common forms of insomnia is called psychophysiological (“mind-body”) insomnia. This is a disorder of learned, sleep-preventing associations, such as not being able to sleep because either your body or your mind is not relaxed. People with this insomnia usually have excessive, daily worries about not being able to fall or stay asleep when desired and worry that their efforts to fall asleep will be unsuccessful. Many people with this condition are concerned that they will never have a good night of sleep again.
Stress is the most common cause of psychophysiological insomnia. While sleep problems are common when going through a stressful event, some people continue to have sleep problems long after the stressful event is over. Sometimes the stress and sleep problems create an ongoing, worsening cycle of each problem.
In addition to stress, what are other causes of Insomnia?
Causes of acute insomnia can include:
- Other significant types of life stressors (job loss or change, death of a loved one, moving)
- Emotional or physical discomfort
- Environmental factors such as noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
- Things that interfere with a normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to the night shift, for example)
Causes of Chronic Insomnia include:
- Chronic stress
- Pain or discomfort at night
What are the symptoms of Insomnia?
Symptoms of insomnia include sleepiness during the day, general tiredness, irritability, and problems with concentration or memory.
How is Insomnia diagnosed?
If you think you have insomnia, talk to our health care provider. An evaluation may include a physical exam, a medical history, and a sleep history. You may be asked to keep a sleep diary for a week or two, keeping track of your sleep patterns and how you feel during the day. Your health care provider may want to interview your bed partner about the quantity and quality of your sleep. In some cases, you may be referred to a sleep centre for special tests at our parijatak Nagpur premice.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Insomnia India
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 bedtime.
- 3.Ashwagandha: 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.
What habits promote a good night’s sleep?
Good sleep habits, also called sleep hygiene, can help you get a good night’s sleep. For example:
- Think positive. Avoid going to bed with a negative mindset, such as “If I don’t sleep for 8 hours, I will feel terrible tomorrow.”
- Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day because naps may make you less sleepy at night.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality.
- Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it may stimulate you and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for 4 hours before the time you go to sleep.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help you sleep.
- Make your sleeping place comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold. If the light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs or a fan.
- Relax before going to bed by reading a book, listening to music, taking a bath, or enjoying another activity you find relaxing.
- Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex.
- If you can’t fall asleep and don’t feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy.
- If you have trouble lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed. This may help you to not focus on those worries overnight.
- Stop clock watching. Turn the clock around and only use the alarm.