Ayurveda regards “nidra” or sleep among the tripodsor “trayopastambha” of life—i.e. the three supporting pillars for health and wellbeing.It brings about happiness and longevity, and acts as a rejuvenator for the skin, mind and body. When both the quality and quantity of sleep are optimum, it leads to proper physical health and mental well-being and beauty.
Renowned Ayurveda scholar, Acharya Sushruta, once said that “with proper and adequate nidra, the person will be free from diseases, will have a pleasure in mind endowed with strength, healthy colour or complexion, and virility”
We often associate nightly slumber with the term “beauty sleep”. Well, beauty sleep not only comprises enough hours, but also sleeping at the right time of the day. Furthermore, it must be accompanied by a healthy diet pattern and an overall healthy lifestyle. After constant exposure to harmful environmental stressors, including UV rays, pollution, dirt and free radicals, throughout the day—our skin repairs and recovers itself whilst we are at rest. That’s why we wake up with healthy, glowing skin in the morning.
This World Sleep Day, let’s take a look at how Ayurveda can help you sleep better.
The Ayurvedic view on sleep irregularities
Ayurveda states that the imbalanced state of sleep is generally prompted by either vata or pitta dosha (sometimes both), as they naturally share elements of light and have mobile, subtle, and clear qualities—all of which oppose and counteract the very energies indispensable for sound sleep. In addition, both vata and pitta tend to trigger the upward moving energy in the body, whereas sleep is supported by downward moving energy.
Pitta energy typically interferes with our ability to fall asleep, while vata energy tends to interrupt sleep. Aggravated vata can wake you up in the middle of the night, which can result in us unable to return to slumber again.
Whether it is caused by vata, pitta, or a combination of the two—the Ayurvedic approach to balancing insufficient sleep is largely focused on helping the system to return to balance by opposing any sleep-disrupting influences with their opposites.
Simultaneously, it is vital to support the body’s natural circadian rhythm or biological clock, while calming the nervous system in the interest of reducing stress and returning to a healthier state of calm.
When to look for medical intervention?
When sleeplessness is due to medical conditions such as anxiety and depression, medical intervention is usually required to treat the causative factor. Additionally, when doshas cannot be balanced with dietary, lifestyle and Ayurvedic practices, they require a more focused herbal support to induce sleep.
Ayurvedic remedies to fix sleep problems based on doshas and lifestyle habits:
1. Indulge in a warm aromatic bath with rose and jasmine extracts
This therapy combines the restorative effects of both warm water and essential oils in a most pleasant and delightful way. In Ayurveda, rose and jasmine are said to reduce stress, open the heart, and purify negative emotions. Aromatic baths relieve the muscles, soothe the skin, and promote emotional balance. Pour 5-10 drops in a full tub of water.
2. Ayurvedic oil concoctions to induce better sleep
The following dosha-balancing oil concoctions should be used in Ayurvedic therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, for better sleep.
Calming, soothing and warming oils to balance vata dosha: 3 drops each of neroli & lime + 2 drops each of jasmine & lavender + 30 ml base oil
Calming and cooling oils to balance pitta dosha: 3 to 5 drops each of rose, sandalwood & vetiver + 1 drop of jasmine + 30 ml base oil
Oils to balance sleeplessness: 3 to 5 drops of rose + 2 drops each of jasmine, chamomile &frankincense + 30 ml base oil
Essential oils are suggested to be blended with a carrier oil such as almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba, or extra virgin olive oil.
3. Instant aromatherapy to calm your senses and improve the quality of sleep
For instant initiation of sleep, the use of Forest Essentials Nidra Tranquil Sleep Spray, is highly recommended. It is made with pure essentials oils of geranium, lavender, nutmeg and sandalwood to induce a restful night's sleep with calming and soothing notes. It should be sprayed on the pillow and neck, for maximum effect.
4. Taking a sleep time elixir at bedtime
A sleep-time elixir is a drink that helps to restore the imbalanced vata dosha, the causative factor for improper sleep.
Make yourself some warm milk mixed with special sleep-inducing herbs and spices. Pour 120 to 180 ml of milk (organic, A2 cow’s milk) into a pan, along with a pinch or two of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron, and a teaspoon of cow’s ghee and date powder. Mix well and simmer for about three minutes. Remove from the pan and let it sit for a minute or so. Drink this warm elixir before going to bed, and settle in for a divine slumber.
Dr. Taruna Yadav is a senior Ayurveda expert at Forest Essentials.