How to Beat Insomnia
- 11 May, 2018
- Written by Jacqueline Iles
Have you ever experienced Insomnia?
One sleepless night is something that we can easily get away with. But, a whole string of sleepless nights that are of the restless, toss and turn and
‘I just wish I could get to sleep’ variety are very debilitating and depleting.
Not having enough sleep makes everything much harder. It leaves us feeling wrung out and incapable of making decisions, cranky and, of course, just plain
In Ayurveda we recognise that sleep is our time of rejuvenation and digestion. Whilst sleeping, we digest the food we have eaten that day. Our body shifts into the ‘house cleaning mode’ of detoxing the blood and other tissues and preparing our waste for elimination in the morning. On a subtle level we also digest our experiences. The impressions we have ingested through the day which reside in our mind, our emotions and even our subtle Pranic body.
Low Ojas means we are depleted, wired and tired. Low ojas means we have high cortisol the stress hormone. In Ayurveda we note that there are several things
that directly reduce our levels of Ojas. Worry, Stress and Alcohol. Worry and stress raise the levels of cortisol in our blood stream and shunt our
energy away from our core organs of digestion and the heart, to the muscles for ‘fight or flight’. This gradually reduces Ojas via disturbing our heart
energy and compromising our digestion. Alcohol is hot and evaporative and directly dries up our Ojas.
When we are depleted we have too much of the air energy called Vata in our body/mind/emotions. From an Ayurvedic perspective insomnia is caused by having
too much of the light, erratic, cold and mobile qualities elevated in the body and mind. This makes sense as these qualities are the opposite of what
we would equate as qualities of a good sleep which are heavy, warm, calm and stable.
If you are experiencing poor sleep, having trouble falling asleep, or waking through the night you are experiencing the effects of high Vata and low Ojas.
Staying up late – I know…obvious right!! But, the later we stay up the harder it is to wind down. Ayurveda says that the Pitta energy rises at approximately
10pm. This gives us that seconds wind of doing energy despite already feeling tired. Ideally we want our Pitta energy to be internal at this time to
do the ‘bodily house cleaning’ between 10pm and 2am. When we stay up past 10pm it is much harder to fall sleep and we are doing our body, (and mind)
Screen time – “We now know that the blue wavelength light from LED-based devices (phones, tablets, computers) increases the release of cortisol in the
brain, which makes us more alert, and inhibits the production of melatonin, which is needed to fall asleep”. 2. Between 6pm and 10pm is a Kapha (earthy)
energy time. Kapha energy likes connecting and family time. Switch off the screens and play a family game or chat about your day with those you live
- Coffee. Yes, even one coffee in the morning can adversely affect your ability to fall asleep 12 hours later. Women metabolise coffee at a slower rate
than men do.
- Alcohol tends to be used for relaxation and reward after a hard day but it too can affect good sleep. It often creates wakeful times between 1-4am.
- Too much chocolate can also make it hard to fall asleep. Even the good quality dark chocolate… darn it! Chocolate contains both caffeine and
theobromine which acts similarly to caffeine.
Eating late – when we eat late ie after 7pm in summer and 6pm in winter then it can disturb our sleep. Eating an earlier and lighter dinner that is easy to digest will help promote good sleep and help to feel lighter on waking in the morning!
To recap here is what we can do to promote good sound sleep…night after night:
-abhyanga (self massage) applying warm oil to the whole body is one of the best ways to reduce the Vata or air energy and soothe the nervous system. If oiling the whole body feels like too much for you then try simply massaging the soles of your feet before bed and pop on some old socks to keep the oil off your sheets. A warm foot bath before the massage is grounding and feels wonderfully indulgent! Try adding some essential oils that sooth the mind such as lavendar, sandalwood or rose.
I hope that these tips help you in creating deeply peaceful and rejuvenating sleep!