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Get Better Sleep

by Ayurveda Therapist on July 5, 2011

Improper Sleeping Habits:

1. Anidra – Loss of Sleep
Failure to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern may be caused by increase of Vata in the Manovaha Srotas (Ayurvedic channel that connects the mind to the intellect). This is often the case for insomnia which often coincides with a loss of concentration, weakness, and fatigue. Ayurveda recommends taking Ghee, Buffalo’s Milk, and pure organic cow’s milk regularly to help balance Vata and normalize sleep patterns. Or, try Vata Tea (combination of calming herbs such as licorice, ginger, cardamon and cinnamon). This tea is deeply relaxing and aids in ensuring a good night’s sleep.

2. Atinidra – Excess Sleep
As a result of excessive sleep kapha increases in the body. Kapha balancing techniques are therefore recommended. Such treatments include: fasting, physical and mental exercise, vamana (vomiting) therapy, verachana (purgation) therapy, nasaya (nasal drops), herbal smoking (inhale fumes of turmeric through nose, exhale through mouth which acts on nasal sinuses), and nasal snuffs.

3. Diva Svapna – Day Time Sleep
This habit increases Kapha, Pitta, and medu- dhatu. Sleeping during the daytime is not advised as it is said to produce more toxins in both the body and mind. Also, it can lead to indigestion, diabetes, and mental heaviness. However, napping is recommended for infants, the elderly, or persons suffering from an illness, overwork, or emotional distress. Based on your dosha it may be healthy to nap. For example, It is okay for Vata to take regular naps, Pitta to take as needed 20-30 minutes “Power Naps”. Those who are Kapha types should avoid napping according to Ayurveda.

4. Ratri Jagarana – “Night Owl”
Ratri Jagarana is when you are awake at night on purpose due to working a night shift, studying late, or, in general, being nocturnal. This habit increases vata in the body causing the body to be dry and weak. It results in loss of mental concentration, decreased digestive capacity, and degenerative diseases of the brain and spinal cord.
→ Vata treatment: Abhyanga (A warm sesame oil massage followed by a warm bath or shower is very relaxing and will help you fall sleep), aromatic oil bath, shirodhara.

Ayureda – Sleep Well:

According to Ayurveda, the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) are the 3 biological forces responsible for the functions of the body. When they are balanced, mind, body, and spirit function in a way to provide optimal health. On the other hand, if one or more doshas are out of balance, health disturbances may result, possibly interfering and disrupting healthy sleep. Ayurvedic practices aim to restore balance to imbalanced doshas.

The doshas are created based on the predominance of elements (Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth) in the body. People with a predominanatly Vata (Ether and Air) constitution, for example, tend to be light sleepers and more likely to have problems sleeping including insomnia. Vata is known as the “King Dosha” as its activity may easily overwhelm Pitta and Kapha. An imbalanced Vata manifests as a hyperactive mind known as the “Monkey Mind” containing excess worry, fear, and anxiety and resulting in a loss of focus. Therefore, when Vata is out of balance a person may have difficulty falling or remaining asleep since the mind is constantly moving. Signs of hyperactive Vata mind include feeling: restless, frazzled, nervous, or hyperactive.

An irregular routine and mental overexertion can easily send Vata out of balance. To balance Vata and eliminate insomnia follow a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle. This will help decrease the level of Vata to its normal amount. For example, avoid eating dry or raw foods, drinking ice-cold beverages, and engaging in excessive travel.

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