After a hectic festive season, one’s sleep schedule often falls completely out of sync, making that back to work feeling even tougher with the alarm clock quickly becoming the morning enemy. Not to mention the stress of going back to the office often sends many into an anxiety riddled insomnia spin. Sleep deprivation is now being called a global epidemic and research has linked it to a lengthy list of illnesses including anxiety, depression, heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis, just to name a few.
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In the short term, poor sleep can lead to memory issues, low mood and irritability.
In the longer term, a lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
With sleep sitting at the core of our ultimate health, it’s vital that we seek to enhance how we get our snooze on.
One approach that takes sleep seriously is the ancient practice of Ayurveda where sleep disorders are called Alpa nidra and insomnia is known as Anidra.
Tarpak Kapha is a sub-dosha of Kapha (water). It nourishes the brain cells and facilitates a good night’s sleep.
Imbalance of this dosha causes poor nourishment of brain cells, leading to insomnia. To help combat this, it’s advised to eat carbohydrate and fat rich foods at night before 8pm and drink fat-rich milk with nutmeg and jaggery or sugar before bedtime.
Foods rich in tryptophan, carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, melatonin and vitamin B6 can all help promote quality sleep.
Examples include milk, eggs, cheese, pasta, yoghurt, carries, bananas or tomatoes.
Prana Vata is a sub-dosha of Vata (air). It is linked to insomnia, anxiety, and conditions such as depression.
As Prana Vata makes the nervous system sensitive, a sensitive nervous system coupled with an aggravated Prana Vata leads to insomnia.
To help ease anxiety to drift off better it’s advised to wash legs with warm water and massage the feet with butter or make a paste of milk and butter and apply that paste over the crown of the head and feet.
This practise helps to ease tension in the body and massages the organs associated with each of the pressure points.
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Sadhak Pitta is a sub-dosha of Pitta (fire) and is located in the heart.
It controls one’s emotions, desires, decisiveness, and spirituality.
An imbalance in Sadhak Pitta makes a person feel more pressure, potentially leading to overworking, thereby leading to situations that may cause a lack of sleep.
To help reduce this, one may wish to drink ash gourd or sugar cane juice after dinner, eat five soaked almonds at bedtime or drink 100 ml of lukewarm almond milk at bedtime.
Ayurveda offers other tips for a better night’s sleep, including:
- Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day. This helps settle the mind
- Create a nighttime routine—take time to wind down and relax for an hour or so before bed. Avoid active and stimulating activities (TV, computers, smartphones, work) and opt for quiet and relaxing activities (meditation, gentle breathing exercises, etc.)
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed
- Massage the feet and temples with warm sesame oil before going to bed
- Take time before bed to do some gentle yoga postures
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