Sleeping is one of the foundational pillars of a healthy life. It is as instrumental as a balanced diet and regular exercise. In todays’ modern world it is often one of the most neglected facets of our life. Our hands remain glued to cell phones more than our heads to the pillow.
Numerous studies have revealed that sleep deprivation leads to attention lapses, reduced cognition, delayed reactions, and erratic mood shifts. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been found to increase the risk for certain diseases and medical conditions. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, high blood pressure, heart stroke, impaired mental health to name a few.
Ayurveda, refers to insomnia as”Anidra” or “Nidranasha”. It is caused by a specific imbalance in the three doshas:
Tarpaka kapha refreshes, rejuvenates and nourishes the sense organ. Nerves taking origin from the brain keep working throughout the day .It is also involved in thought process, decision making and emotional high and downs. As a result brain will stressed out .There will be chance of breakdown eventually leading to manifestation of many nervous and mental diseases .Brain and nervous system need a support system and buffer so as to protect it from stress and trauma of daily activities .This protection system is naturally provided by Tarpaka kapha . Tarpaka Kapha is out of balance, it can cause impaired or slow learning, lack of clarity in the mind, poor memory and emotional issues such as irritability, anger or jealousy. Tarpaka Kapha imbalance can also lead to sinus congestion or a poor sense of smell.
Prana vayu is related to vata dosha and enables the body to move and mind to think. Vayu is weak, the mind cannot focus and experiences excess worry. Shortness of breath, anxiety, low energy or a poor immune system can be related to disturbed Prana-Vayu.
Sadhaka pitta motivates the person to achieve his aspiration ,goals and dreams . sadhaka pitta has always made person to think better than his predecessors , aspire and have better goals . sadhaka pitta is the key for human evolution .
Decreases in sadhaka pitta would increases kapha and tama quality in brain . This leads to depression ,lack of motivation and excessive laziness and sleepiness .All activities of daily living would slow down and person would not able to achieve anything . Function of nervous system would slow down due to lack of motivation from sadhaka pitta .Many nervous disorders would manifest .
Medicated oils are applied on the forehead in the direction of the hair follicles - Shira Abhyanga. This instills calmness and aids in stress and anxiety. Making Abhyanga a part of the daily routine calms down the Vata significantly. Additionally we can massage our feet with the oil which is referred as Pada Abhyanga in Ayurveda. As the oils penetrate our skin it reduces any inflammation and cramps. Abhyanga improves our blood circulation as well thus enriching our body with a greater concentration of oxygen and promoting sleep.
Herbs & Spices
Consuming luke-warm milk with cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg powder helps in alleviating insomnia.
Herbs like Ashwagandha and Brahmi lower the level of stress hormones in our blood. They increase our resistance towards anxiety and tension. These herbs have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They have a positive impact on our endocrine system as well which regulates the pineal gland responsible for our circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
Focused breathing with mindful physical exercise brings in more harmony and wellness in our bodies. Practising Yoga regularly reduces stress and anxiety. It evokes a feeling of deep relaxation within thus promoting conditions prerequisite for sleep.
The Uttanasana helps in getting rid of anxiety and headaches . Since the pose involves intensive stretching of the limbs it helps in removing the accumulated stress and tension. Since the head is facing downwards there is a rapid supply of blood there which revitalizes the head. It reduces fatigue and helps cure mild depression thus facilitating better sleep.
The Halasana provides relief from stiff neck, shoulders, and arms. It strengthens and stretches our back. Since the Halasana is an inversion pose, which means that our heart is positioned above the head, it boosts our cardio-vascular activity and respiratory efficiency thus improving the concentration of oxygen in our blood. High oxygen concentration helps maintain an optimum body temperature which is vital for sleep.
The Balasana pleasantly stretches the thighs, ankles and hips. It massages the abdominal organs and relaxes our back significantly. It helps release all the nervous energy and relaxes the mind and body thus prompting us to sleep like a baby.
The tendency of our mind to hop on and hop out of a train of thought is probably the highest when our head hits the pillow. A restful sleep chiefly depends on a rested mind.
The practice of meditation for a prolonged period of time can prove to be an effective tool to cure insomnia.
Meditation brings in awareness about our thought patterns and relieves us from stress and anxiety. It helps in mellowing down the symptoms of depression and chronic fatigue.
Sleep often plays hide and seek, a lack of sleep takes a huge toll on the body and is a deterrent to good health. A skewed work-life balance, stress and anxiety often come in the way of a good night of sleep. We should be particular about our sleep and wake-up cycle and take full control of our body to live a healthy life.
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