Our high-paced and technology-driven lifestyles with limitless access to the internet through our phone screens have created a new dilemma. We are constantly stimulated with new information and in a state of hyper-arousal that interferes with our sleep. 

Have you been there too? Completely exhausted from the day but simply unable to sleep? If yes, then you’re not alone in this. According to the recent estimates, one in four people worldwide suffers from the symptoms of Insomnia.

As all bodily systems are inter-connected, such sleep disturbances adversely affect other areas of our health. You might have noticed how your sleep affects your mood, your digestion, and recovery from illnesses. 

One of the biggest modern-day challenges is to develop and maintain a good sleep regime. In this article, we’ll discuss the Ayurvedic take on sleep and uncover some of the Ancient wisdom to help us sleep better at night.

The Importance Of Sleep In Ayurveda

Ayurveda considers sleep (nidra) as one of the three pillars of health, along with the food (ahara) and moderation of the senses (brahmacharaya). The importance of sleep in Ayurveda can be understood from this excerpt in Ayurveda textbook Ashtanga Hrdayam –

“Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment (good physique) and emaciation, strength and debility, sexual prowess and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death—all are dependent on sleep.”

Another ancient Ayurveda textbook from Acharya Charaka outline the six important functions of sleep –

  • Perception of joy
  • Physical growth and tissue nourishment 
  • Immunity 
  • Fertility 
  • Logical thinking and retention of acquired knowledge
  • Longevity

However, Ayurveda also points out that Insomnia (Anidra) in itself is not a disease in itself. Rather, it’s a symptom of an underlying imbalance of the doshas or a chronic disease. Let’s now understand Insomnia and Sleep Disorders from the Ayurvedic view. 

Ayurvedic Take On Insomnia or ‘The Monkey Mind’

Not all people suffer from the same kind of sleep problems. Some people have difficulty in falling asleep, some people get up earlier than they intend to and some people feel lethargic even after sleeping long hours. It’s possible to experience different kinds of sleep problems on different days due to the varying balance of the doshas.

Ayurveda maps every sleep disturbance to an imbalance of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha

    1. Vata Imbalance Sleep Disorder – If your mind is occupied with reproducing the events and feelings from the day when you try to fall asleep, it’s a Vata dosha imbalance. This leads to difficulty in detaching from the thoughts and consequent restlessness at night.
    2. Pitta Imbalance Sleep Disorder – If you’ve no problem in falling asleep but wake up sooner than usual and then face difficulty in going back to sleep, then you’re suffering from Pitta dosha imbalance. This might often be a result of recent or ongoing emotional trauma.
      3. Kapha Imbalance Sleep Disorder – If you feel tired, exhausted, and sluggish even after sleeping for long hours, then you’re suffering from Kapha dosha imbalance. 

An Ayurvedic practitioner or consultant can analyze your symptoms to figure out the imbalances in your body. A combination of diet, herbal tea concoctions with Ayurvedic spice and herbs, body massages with specific oils, Yoga asanas, and Ayurvedic treatments are recommended to relieve cure sleep disorders naturally.

Ayurvedic Remedies For Better Sleep At Night

Irrespective of the nature of your sleep disorder, you can find improve the quality of your sleep by following these Ayurvedic practices.

1. Drink Calming Herbal Tea at night

Certain Ayurvedic ingredients like Licorice, Cardamom, Hibiscus, and Chamomile are known for their calming qualities. Irrespective of your dosha, you can drink herbal tea prepared from these ingredients and benefit from their relaxing effects.

If you like to drink warm milk at night, you can add Ashwagandha or Nutmeg Powder to it for improved quality of sleep at night. Milk contains tryptophan and melatonin that have a soothing effect and can aid in creating a relaxing bedtime routine.

You can consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to understand the best herbs and spices that are best suited for your body constitution.

2. Maintain Proper Sleep Hygiene

All stimulating activities like watching screens or drinking tea/coffee should be avoided prior to sleeping. If you’re used to sleeping while watching a phone or TV screen, the quality of your sleep is likely to be poor and less restorative. 

Another important aspect of sleep hygiene is going to bed at a proper time. As per Ayurveda, the hormones in our body follow the rhythm of the sun. The ideal time to go to bed is between 8 pm to 11 pm and the ideal time to wake up is between 5 am to 8 am. It’s important to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. If you align your sleep schedule to a fixed routine, you will feel for energized and refreshed when you wake up. 

3. Follow A Sleep Ritual

Sleep ritual is a set of activities you perform to prepare your body and mind to sleep. It doesn’t have to be too elaborate. A simple Ayurvedic sleep ritual includes the following –

  • Planning an early dinner time – Ayurveda recommends having your last meal at around 7 pm if you plan to go to bed by 10 pm. Have an appropriate quantity of food so that you are neither too full nor too hungry when you come to bed.
  • Do not drink too much water at night – The majority of your water intake for the day should happen before 6 pm. However, you can have your calming herbal tea before coming to bed.
  • Massage the sole of your feet and hands – Use Sesame oil or Coconut oil to massage and soothe your aching muscles and feel relaxed. You can also use Ghee to massage your temples and navel for a soothing effect.
  • Meditate – Spend some time observing your breath and feeling connected to it. You can also use your meditation time to feel gratitude for the day. This will help in eliminating all negative feelings from your mind. You can also practice breathing from alternative nostrils at this time.
  • Manage your exposure to light – Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning and avoid screens and bright lights at night.
  • Do not exert too much – If you workout, try to not do it right before you sleep time. A relaxing Yoga is best suited for night time. A warm bath is recommended right after the workout to relax your muscles.

Over time, you can develop an understanding of what works best for you. Some people find some light stretching and reading also very relaxing at night. Your sleep ritual could be unique and tailored to address your sleep problems.

Ayurvedic Treatments To Address Health Issues

If you’re suffering from chronic insomnia as a result of deeper underlying health issues like hormonal imbalances, stress, and anxiety, you can take the help of Ayurvedic treatments. 

1. Herbal Remedies 

Ayurvedic sleep-inducing herbs like Brahmi, Shankhpushpi, Vacha, Sarpgandha, Ashwagandha, and Jatamashi are prescribed for natural treatment of Insomnia. Different herbs work for different people based on their body constitution. These herbs detoxify the physiological system which steadily restores the natural balance of the body and diminishes insomnia.

2. Diet And Lifestyle Recommendations

An Ayurvedic practitioner can guide with the proper diet and meal times that will help you in sleeping better. Your meals should address the imbalance of your doshas. For instance, if your sleep problems are due to Vata imbalance, you will be provided with a diet of Vata balancing food items and will be recommended to eat three warm meals at a fixed time every day. 

3. Ayurvedic Detox Therapies

Ayurveda also recommends certain detox therapies for curing insomnia inducing body dosha imbalances. Some of the best Ayurvedic therapies for stress management and detoxification are Nasal medications, Purgation Therapy, Shirodhara (the third eye therapy of pouring oil on the forehead), Abhyanga (full body massage), Mardana (deep tissue massage), Pindsweda (hot poultice massage), and Shiroabhyanga (head massage). 

4. Yoga asanas and Breathing techniques

Postures like Sarvangasana, VipreetKarni Mudra, Childs relaxation pose, and Yoga Nidra are effective Yoga techniques for improving sleep quality. Breathing techniques of Brahmi and opposite nostril breathing also help in inducing deep sleep. They help in relaxing the senses and in balancing the doshas.

By using the combination of above mentioned Ayurvedic treatments and remedies, you can slowly move towards curing the underlying problems associated with the Sleep Disorders and Insomnia. In this article, we’ve uncovered the ancient Ayurvedic secrets to a good night’s sleep. Hope you found them useful. Feel free to consult our Ayurvedic practitioners to find out which remedies and treatments will work the best for you. 


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