Sleep is a natural phenomenon of giving adequate rest to the body and mind. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep at night for many hours or inability to have a sound sleep, which deprives one of natural rest and interferes with activities during the day.
An improper diet and lifestyle causes aggravation of Vata (Ayurvedic humor representing Air) that travels through the channels of the head causing sleeplessness. Vata is aggravated by increased intake of tea and coffee, especially, before going to bed; long gaps between meals; and intake of cold and dry food, cabbage, lettuce, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, rice, and smoked foods. Suppressed emotions, disturbed sleeping patterns, worries, anger, overwork, overexcitement, and ill health may be other responsible factors.
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Day time fatigue and sleepiness
- Day time irritability
In 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 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 important part of the treatment.
Diet & Lifestyle Advice
- Have fresh fruits, avocado, pasta, rice, dairy products, and sweet foods.
- Include nuts like almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts in your daily diet.
- Have salads with a dressing of cream, yogurt, or vegetable oils.
- Use whole-wheat flour and brown rice instead of refined varieties.
- Increase use of butter or purified butter in foods.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and aerated drinks after dusk.
- Avoid watching television or working on the computer late at night.
- Have a body massage with sesame oil, followed by a bath.
Some Home Remedies
- Have a glass of whole milk (full cream milk; without the cream removed) with green cardamom powder before going to bed.
- Have 1 teaspoon of licorice root powder with a glass of milk on an empty stomach in the morning.
- Massage your feet with lukewarm mustard oil 2-3 times a day and before going to bed.