Work has been keeping you anxious, tensed, and away from a deep restful sleep and it has started showing up on your face and eyes, as your days are spent in a daze. When you do not give your body the right amount of sleep, it affects your productivity, prana levels (life force) and overall health. Sleeplessness over a prolonged period of time equates to the dreaded Insomnia.
Instead of turning to alcohol or popping pills, try Ayurveda for improved sleep without bargaining with your physical and mental health. Ayurveda, an ancient science of healing and longevity, has simple yet very effective herbal remedies to help you get quality sleep, even if the number of hours remains less.
1) Boil milk with 10 grams of cumin seeds and licorice and have it at night after dinner.
While cumin (Jeeraka in Sanskrit) has a good amount of melatonin which improves your sleep cycle, it is also anti-congestive and is rich in essential oils which helps in treating cold and flu. The presence of riboflavin, vitamin B6 and niacin in cumin regularizes brain function too.
To add some sweetness to the preparation, we add licorice (Yashtimadhu) which is a healthy digestive agent as well as being a great taste provider. Licorice detoxifies and cleanses the body, improves strength and immunity, is useful in treating abdominal tumors, bloatedness, diarrhea, worm infection and skin diseases. In the ancient days, licorice was used in many herbal formulations to dilute the unpleasant taste of the other herbs present in the medicine.
Milk is known to contain tryptophan which produces serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a calmness-boosting hormone which provides us restful sleep. In Ayurveda, milk is called the elixir par excellence. Milk also regulates Kapha dosha in the body that is needed for proper sleep.
2) Mix 10 grams of Triphala Churna with honey and have it after dinner
Before hitting the hay, you can have a spoon of honey mixed with 10 grams of Triphala powder. Triphala (three fruit combo) is a popular Ayurvedic formulation that consists of extracts of three power fruits – Indian gooseberry (Amalaki), Beleric ( Bibhitaki) and Black Myrobalan whole (Haritaki), which are rich in antioxidants. The formulation is good for the respiratory, cardiovascular, urinary, reproductive and nervous systems.
Indian gooseberries are good coolants that reduce Pitta dosha and work on the liver and immune system, while Beleric manages kapha and improves respiration. Haritaki is an effective detox agent and balances all the three doshas.
Honey, like milk and containing tryptophan, is scientifically proven to improve and give you longer restorative sleep cycles.
Having a spoonful of honey about an hour before bedtime ensures sufficient glycogen production, so the body does not release stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) in the morning right after you wake up.
This preparation stabilizes sugar levels in the body
This preparation releases melatonin needed by the body for recovery and rejuvenation of body tissues during the resting period.
3) Drink a glass of sugarcane juice after dinner at bed time
If you have been having a mentally taxing day where you have had to use your intellectual faculties a bit much, it is likely that your head is still abuzz and you are sleepless from the brain activity. On such days, you need to eat or apply natural ingredients or foods that increase the Kapha in the body for you to be able to nod off. In such cases, sugar cane juice is a great option. Sugar cane is nourishing and a natural coolant. It increases Kapha dosha slightly and calms down the Pitta in the body.
4) Mix 25 grams of lac powder into 100 ml of boiled coconut oil and give yourself a full body massage
Coconut oil contains saturated fats that prevent sugar or insulin levels from increasing in the body while you are sleeping. It also regulates the secretion of stress hormones in the body, so you do not wake up anxious and restless. Coconut oil is also a good carrier oil, as it helps absorption and assimilation of other essential oils into the skin. A gentle massage with virgin and cold-pressed coconut oil reduces fatigue and stress. Lac has multiple benefits for the body. As well as being an excellent rejuvenating agent, it also pacifies Kapha and Pitta in the body. It is helpful in treating joint pain, renal and spleen problems and wounds. Lac is good for the liver. Lac is good for increasing bone density and making bones stronger.
5) Head and foot massage for 15 to 20 minutes before food
Ayurveda experts recommend a 15 to 20-minute head and foot message before dinner. The message will relax your body and purge it off the fatigue and stress of the day, while preparing you to hit the sack and sleep for eight straight hours of undisturbed sleep.
6) Yogic sleep
After a long day of activity both mental and physical, now it is time to rest and let the body cells relax. It is very important to end the day with a guided meditation of Yoga Nidra(Yogic sleep). Even if you have worked out or practiced Yoga, it is recommended that you end the session with Yoga Nidra. Without proper rest after the work out, you miss out on the most important experience of exercise which is the deep spiritual rest that your body gets, after having exhausted the Rajas Guna in the body through focused activity.
With inputs from Dr. Nibin, Sri Sri Ayurveda consultant
Disclaimer: The conditions and illnesses could also be due to a mix of Dosha imbalances. Please do not try to self-diagnose. This article is purely for informational purpose. We strongly recommend you consult a Sri Sri Ayurveda physician for a thorough examination of your constitution and its balances/imbalances.