A Huge Issue
A few weeks ago I asked my facebook friends what were their main 3 health concerns and a surprising 50% said they had trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep.
Since I started practicing ayurveda I never once had a problem of falling asleep or waking up tired. Simple diet and lifestyle rules keep my nervous system and body balanced and healthy turning sleep into what it originally was meant to be – time to restore and recharge.
Unfortunately, our stressed out, always in a rush society turned sleep, a basic physiologic function into a luxury for many. According to the US Surgeon General, insomnia costs the U.S. Government more than $15 billion per year in health care costs. With insomnia medication sold like candy, this issue keeps persevering. Insomnia meds mask the symptoms but don’t get to solving the problem.
Today I will introduce you to ayurvedic remedies for insomnia and restful sleep tips. There is also a great guided relation below, so make sure to read the full article.
Is Sleep Really Necessary?
Let’s look at the reasons why sleep is important. With so many stimulants from coffee and energy drinks, to illegal drugs and amphetamines – there are plenty of ways to spike the nervous system into wakefulness but nothing compares to a good night of sleep.
Good quality sleep is essential for health and happiness. Not enough sleep will lead to cravings, crankiness, premature aging, depleted adrenal glands, poor focus, and many other unpleasant things.
There is no substitute for sleep yet, so we better learn how to sleep well and recharge efficiently during the precious sleep time.
Ayurveda, an ancient health and lifestyle science has a few simple yet very effective tips for treating insomnia. It does so by identifying the root cause of it not just dealing with symptoms.
Why Can’t I Sleep?!
According to ayurveda insomnia and restless sleep are symptoms of aggravated Vata dosha. Vata is responsible for movement, activity, and thinking process. It is light, fast, and airy by its nature. When Vata dosha is balanced, we feel creative, light, inspired, and energized. When Vata is aggravated we feel frazzled, fatigued, unable to stop a constant flow of thoughts, anxious, and turn into insomniacs with a hyperactive mind.
Consciously or unconsciously you might be doing a few things that keep you awake by aggravating Vata.
Here are a few things that might aggravate your nervous system and cause insomnia:
Eat a late dinner (less than 3 hours before sleep)
Have caffeine less than 5 hours before sleep
Watch tv or stare at the computer screen before bed. Bright lights activate your nervous system and can cause insomnia. It is better to read a good book or engage in a friendly conversation with your family. It will be less aggravating to the brain and nervous system allowing you to fall asleep better.
Have heavy, spicy, or fatty meal for dinner. Digestion takes up a lot of energy. While digesting, your body is active and you may be forced to stay awake along with your working belly. Even if you manage to fall asleep with a full stomach, the quality of sleep won’t be good, since your body is still processing the food.
Not living intune with nature. At one point our ancestors didn’t have a choice but to live by nature’s rhythms – asleep with sundown and up with sunrise. With social life and tv shows being on everyone’s to do list in the evening, we got disconnected from the original harmonious existence with nature. Going against the law of nature has its price. According to ayurveda most people should go to bed before 10pm to get the most restful sleep.
Let’s look at what you can do to help your body and nervous system to prepare for a good night of restful sleep. Ayurvedic healing remedies aim to restore greater balance to the specific doshas that are out of balance.
Ayurveda Sleep-Inducing Tips:
- One of the simplest and most effective ways to induce sleep is to rub some oil on the scalp and the soles of the feet before going to bed. Use sesame oil, brahmi oil, jasmine oil, or coconut oil and massage gently for a few minutes. Slightly warming the oil before applying is helpful.
- Drink a cup of warm almond milk before going to bed. You can drink plain milk if you prefer, but adding a pinch of nutmeg (1/8 tsp) and cardamom will make it more delicious as well as more effective.
Have a vata-pacifying dinner: include foods that are warm, moist, and grounding. Avoid eating dry or raw foods, and drinking ice-cold beverages.
Set a daily routine and bedtime ritual schedule for yourself.
Give yourself a positive affirmation, let go of the negative ‘I can’t sleep’. Positive affirmations to try: I sleep like a baby, I sleep well, my sleep is restful and nourishing to my body
Chamomile tea is caffeine free and is a traditional remedy for insomnia.
- Valerian root is great to relieve stress and induce relaxation. It is available in tea or drops form at most health foods stores.
- Try a guided relaxation before sleep. Do this Yoga Nidra (click here for a free recording) to take your relaxation to the next level.
Sweet happy dreams!
In the comments let me know: What works for you when you try to fall asleep?
Note: originally published as a guest blog post at http://www.nourishing-the-soul.com/2012/08/insomnia/