If you have trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or can't sleep at all, you are not alone! Health experts, including the U.S. Surgeon General, report that the rates of insomnia and insomnia medications are rising. With over $15 billion spent annually on related health care costs, Ayurveda's practical and effective protocols for improving sleep patterns are more essential than ever.
Dating back to ancient Ayurvedic texts, Ayurveda is a popular holistic form of medicine that aims to correct mind-body imbalances. It teaches you about your basic constitution and helps identify the most effectual strategies to improve your personal health.
In the case of sleep disorders, Ayurveda examines your current sleep patterns and preferences (i.e. sleeping too much, having disturbed sleep, or being deprived of sleep altogether), as well as your lifestyle habits, and provides remedy guides to support a return to balance.
Lack of Proper Sleep: The Effects
Both Western and Ayurvedic experts confirm that lack of restful sleep has profound negative consequences on our physical, mental, and emotional states.
Some of the effects of disordered sleep include:
- Impairs the body's natural restorative functions
- Impairs healthy immune system function
- Hampers essential repair activities, i.e. protein synthesis, muscle growth, hormone release, cell rejuvenation, tissue repair, metabolic waste removal
- Diminishes brain's capacity to form new neurological pathways
- Limits sleep's ability to support the emotional centers of the brain
- Decreases mental focus
- Impedes decision-making abilities
- Hampers creativity
Sleep Imbalances by Dosha
Imbalances in one or more of the three doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - give rise to three respective types of sleep imbalances.
Vata Sleep Imbalances
The main sleep problems associated with Vata dosha are difficulty falling asleep and restless or light sleep from which you are easily awakened. These sleep imbalances are the result of an overactive, anxious mind that is replaying the events of the day or worrying about the future. Vata-type personalities find it hard to turn off their thoughts and emotions at bedtime and as a result may suffer from insomnia or from feeling tired in the morning.
Pitta Sleep Imbalances
If you have a Pitta-type sleep disorder, falling asleep is not the problem; rather, you wake up in the middle of the night and can't drift off again.
Kapha Sleep Imbalances
If you suffer from a Kapha-type sleep disturbance, you most likely enjoy long and deep sleep. However when imbalances occur, you wake up feeling tired, lethargic, or even exhausted, and this dullness accompanies you over the course of the day.
Ayurvedic Tips on How to Prevent Sleep Disturbances
No matter what type of sleep problem you are experiencing, there are active steps you can take to help get the rest you want and need.
Here are some expert Ayurvedic tips on how to prevent insomnia and other sleep disturbances across the doshas:
- Do not eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime
- Do not ingest caffeine within five hours of bedtime
- Avoid cold, raw foods and ice-cold beverages before bed
- Avoid oily, heavy, and spicy foods before bed, which put the digestive system to work and contribute to sleep difficulties
- Drink warm milk with some added nutmeg before bed
- Drink chamomile tea - a popular remedy for insomnia - before bed
- Turn off your T.V. computer, laptop, and electronic devices within two hours before bedtime
- Reduce bright lights and other stimulants which activate the nervous system and prevent sleep
- Keep your bedroom temperature cool; the National Sleep Foundation recommends 60-67 degrees Celsius
- For the most restful sleep, turn off the lights by 10 p.m. and awake by 6 a.m.
- Spend your last hour before bedtime winding down - i.e. taking a walk in nature, listening to soothing music, relaxing with friends or family, reading a good book, journaling, meditating, etc.
- A popular Ayurveda sleep-inducing strategy is rubbing essential oils on your scalp and soles of your feet and gently massaging (try jasmine, sesame, coconut, or brahmi oils - you can also warm the oil before applying)
- To induce relaxation and decrease stress, drink Valerie Root Tea or drops before bedtime
- Establish a regular bedtime ritual
Summary: Ayurveda Solutions for Insomnia
Not only do Ayurveda's timeless solutions work, but they are backed up by the Harvard Business Review article entitled: "How to Spend the Last 10 Minutes of Your Day." The article emphasizes the importance of creating an enjoyable bedtime routine that entices you to wind down and that enables you to transition from activity to rest. And as the article so aptly states: "However you choose to use the time before bed, do your best to keep this time free of negative energy."
Follow these Ayurveda solutions for insomnia and tips for improved sleep - and Sweet Dreams!
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