Insomnia is a common problem characterized by difficulty or disturbance in falling asleep or staying asleep. Sometimes, it causes to wake up early & there will be difficulty in sleeping again. After waking up, the person may feel tired. Sleep problems affect the quality of life, mood & energy levels. For an adult, it is recommended to sleep at least 7 to 8hrs a day. But it may vary from person to person.
Most commonly, adults experience sleep disturbances for few days or up to some weeks due to some traumatic events or stress. In some cases, it may last for months, referred to as chronic insomnia. Sometimes it occurs due to an underlying disease condition & some medication.
Insomnia though it appears very complicated & disturbing, it is usually not a complex problem. Slight variation in your routine habits can bring fast results.
- Inability to sleep
- Waking up too early & difficulty sleeping again
- Tired feeling even after sleeping
- Anxiety & irritability
- Inability to focus or concentrate
It is very important to focus on chronic insomnia in detail. Let’s see the various causes that lead o insomnia
Stress– It is the major cause of many physical as well as mental disorders. Workplace problems, financial issues, traumatic events, & death of near ones, can cause sleep problems.
Travel or work– Shift patterns of work affect the normal circadian rhythm. This mainly affects the sleep rhythm & patterns. In the long run, it leads to insomnia.
Excessive eating– Overeating causes difficulty in sleeping. Because when you are lying down to fall asleep, the food inside the stomach causes physical discomfort. Sometimes heartburn, acid regurgitations, gas problems, etc. may interfere with your sleep rhythm.
Sleep habits– Irregular sleeping patterns, late-night works, watching horror movies, engaging in social media chats, late-night calls, & use of laptops in bed, can cause insomnia in the future.
In Ayurveda, insomnia is classified under Vata nanatmaja vikara & referred to as nidranasa or anidra.
The line of management is primarily focused on avoidance of the causes. Particularly if there is an underlying disease, the disease has to be treated first. Also, if the cause of insomnia is excessive alcohol consumption, caffeine, & TV addiction, then all these activities have to be avoided for getting back the normal sleep.
Panchakarma therapy or purificatory therapy followed by palliative or shaman therapy is advocated.
- Purgative therapy with Eranda thaila in warm water is recommended. The medicine is specifically indicated for vataja diseases.
- Abhyanga or oil massage therapy especially head massage, full body massage, or foot massage with appropriate herbal oils are very much effective in insomnia.
- Shiro Dhara, pouring medicated oils in the head is very much cooling & enhances sleep. It can be done using Narayana taila or himasagara taila.
- Shiro Pichu, local application of herbal oil is also recommended according to the condition of the patient.
- Takra Dhara, or pouring medicated buttermilk in the head is advisable.
All these therapies can last for 30 to 45 minutes for 10 days.
Some of the single-drug therapies
Ashwagandha choornam, Brahmi choornam, jatamansi choornam, mandukaparni choornam can be taken internally along with warm water or milk according to the condition of the patient.
Ayurvedic treatment for Insomnia :
Some of the effective classical formulations are below
Sarpagandadi vati, brahmi vati, manasamithra vatakam, ksheerabala tailam, Narayana tailam, mahakalyanaka ghritham, himasagarathailam.
All these treatments should be taken under the supervision of an expert medical practitioner. The medicines vary according to the Prakriti, age, & disease condition of the patient timely.
In addition to the medications, yogic practices, pranayama & meditation can be very much useful in these conditions
Suryanamaskara, padmasana, bhujangasana, & shavasana are good choices
Other breathing techniques like pranayama can be practiced to enable the normal functioning of Vata dosha
Meditation daily is recommended.
Proper counseling & advice can be given to the patients regarding their diet & daily activities.
Warm milk intake before bed
Warm water bath
Mild physical activities before going to sleep
Listen to soft music
Say No to
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or tea
Avoid stressful situations
Avoid watching Tv, mobile games, laptops, etc.
Limit the food intake during dinner hours.
Management of insomnia is however an integrated approach. By combining the medical therapies with yoga meditation & changes in lifestyle can bring great improvement.