Here are some explanations and solutions that Ayurveda can offer.
It is clear that our lifestyle contributes to disrupt our circadian rhythms and the quality of our sleep. In Ayurveda, a good diagnosis will lead to defining which of the three Doshas (those energies that regulate body and mind) is the cause of the disorder. Pitta-type insomnia will take place at the beginning of the night, while insomnia of the Vata type will begin between 2am and 4am and last until the early morning. The solutions to be considered vary according to the degree of severity of the sleep disorders, but in many cases, with a little patience and discipline, Ayurveda can be a lifesaver for those who suffer from it.
First of all, and this is valid for everyone, we make sure the basic lifestyle rules are in place:
- we stop the exposure to screens at the beginning of the Kapha cycle (at sunset) to avoid the harmful effects of the blue light everyone talks about. Note that if you are addict to your favorite TV show, it's better to watch it on an actual TV screen than in bed on your computer...
- we set a wake up time and a sleeping time and try not to deviate from it, while trying to be honest about the amount of time our body really needs to rest : your ideal time frame may be 8 hours when it could be 6 for others (I know...);
- we try to have an early dinner, at least 2 hours before going to bed so the digestion is already well underway (it will have passed the Kapha phase located in the stomach);
- we try to make a real break from work and spend a quality time with family, friends or alone, in a peaceful environment.
For those who already have some sleep issues, we choose one or two things among these suggestions, especially those which we know we won't give up after 3 days:
- we avoid exercise that is too straining in the evening, because it works against the natural rhythm of the body that is trying to slow down and prepare to rest; prefer a gentle yoga for example;
- we can drink a cup of warm almond milk with a little nutmeg at bedtime;
- we can practice 20min of relaxation in bed, in the form of meditation or yoga nidra. Today, many apps offer it for free, including Insight Timer which is one of my favorites;
- we practice 5 minutes of alternate breathing, otherwise called Nadi Shodana, which will soothe the nervous system among other things (inhale through a nostril while blocking the other, then change sides to exhale, then inhale on the same side and exhale through the other, etc.)
- we apply sesame oil on the soles of our feet at bedtime (put socks on to protect the sheets!)
Finally, for more pronounced degrees of chronic insomnia, which may be of hormonal, nervous, digestive origin etc, it is often recommended to consult an ayurvedic practitioner who can suggest one or more of the following measures:
- the regular practice of massages adapted to your profile, to regulate the Doshas;
- the daily self-massage at home with an oil adapted to your Ayurvedic profile;
- taking ayurvedic herbs.
Of course it is recommended not to wait too long to deal with the issue, and as always it is also strongly recommended, in case of any doubt, to consult your doctor.