Meera Verma, a software professional was feeling tired and drained for many days. A thorough check-up ruled out any disease, yet she wasn't feeling normal or energetic. Strangely, there wasn't any big stress in her life apart from normal worries.
While discussing with the doctor she discovered that her sleep routine had become extremely erratic. She would often work late.
This habit of keeping awake at night had taken its toll and her overactive mind wasn’t able to relax.
Unable to fall into deep slumber, she would wake up within a few hour of going to bed. Sleep deprivation was making her sick.
Insomnia is the inability to fall or stay asleep for a normal duration. Some people can fall asleep but get up in the early hours. Some feel sleepy and while as they are on the verge of falling asleep become alert and then cannot sleep at all.
Few years back, insomnia or sleeplessness was an age-related issue. However, Sleep requirements can vary from person to person depending on other factors.
Doctors recommend eight hours of deep sleep for adults. But, today, for many of us getting eight hours of sleep every night has become a luxury.
The number of young patients with sleep disorders has increased rapidly over the last few years due to diverse reasons. The fact remains, that even if we are in the 21st century, our needs are the same as our stone age ancestors. We still need good food, exercise and rest.
Causes for Insomnia
Insomnia can have both physiological and psychological reasons. Here is a list of a few common causes:
Poor sleep habits
Overuse of digital gadgets
Too much exposure to artificial light
Eating heavy food late in the evening
Frequent travelling across time-zones
Excessive consumption of caffeine
Stress, anxiety and worry
Insomnia classified according to duration, can be transient, short-term and chronic. It could be a temporary condition due to some stressful events like job loss, financial loss or divorce. If ignored, it becomes chronic resulting in serious problems. Sometimes, it could be a symptom of an underlying disease.
Sleeplessness causes physical, mental and emotional stress. It affects work performance, productivity and general life quality. Chronic fatigue, irritability, attention deficit, memory issues, anger, frustration, depression, inability to focus, weight gain, low energy and mood swings can be experienced.
Standard treatment includes prescription medications or sedative-hypnotic drugs. However, this treatment doesn't address the root cause, but helps in managing the condition. Patients may become dependent on these medicines and require higher doses over time.
In Ayurveda, insomnia known as Anidra or Nidranashna, is a result of build-up of toxins in the body due to a faulty diet, weak digestion, irregular lifestyle and physical, mental and emotional stress. These accumulated toxins interfere with the body systems, create disharmony and disturb the three doshas.
Ayurveda treats every person as different and the treatment is always customised according to an individual’s requirement. Consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner helps in finding the exact cause.
Ayurveda emphasises on creating a regular routine that provides time to eat sleep, exercise and relaxation. Here are a few suggestions.
Eat dinner before 7 pm
Avoid too much tea, coffee, alcohol
Avoid stress especially at night
Do not watch stressful movies before bedtime
Reduce the exposure to bright artificial light from gadgets. Consult a doctor on how to cope if you have late working hours.
Practice Pranayama Anuloma Viloma, Ujjai and Bhramari
Yoga Suryanamaskara, Tadasana, Matsyasana, Mandkasana, Bhujangasana, Padmasana, Paschimottanasana and Shavasana
Therapies like Siroabhyanga, Netra Tarpan, Padabhyanga, Panchakarma, Abhyanga and Takradhara
Deep relaxation techniques like Yoga Nidra and meditation
Ayurvedic remedies to combat insomnia are as follows:
Consult an Ayurvedic doctor to identify the exact cause depending on the patient’s Prakriti.
Add ½ tsp of turmeric powder in a cup of warm milk and drink at bedtime.
Drink a cup of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg, cardamom powder and crushed almonds at bedtime.
Mix together 1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup water, and 1 clove of fresh, crushed garlic, boil the mixture for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Add honey for taste and drink this half an hour before going to bed.
Herbs like Brahmi, Ashwagandha, Shankhpushpi and Jatamasi help in sleep disorders.
Sleep is vital for healing and recharging our bodies. If you really want to enjoy a healthy life take steps to formulate a sleep routine that helps to rejuvenate and heal. Remember recharging is not just for gadget batteries, but for our bodies too.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
(Delhi is in a public health emergency. The air outside is visibly toxic - how has the hazardous air #pollution impacted you? Write down your #PollutionKaSolution and send it to us at FIT@thequint.com. )
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