Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes and sleep disorders

Diabetes and sleep disorders

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Diabetes and sleep disorders Ayurvedic treatment


Diabetes and sleep problems are commonly linked disorders. Diabetes can cause sleep loss, and at the same time, an inability to sleep well can increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Any disease that affects how much you sleep and how you sleep is called sleep disorder. It is very common and main cause of bad quality of life in people with diabetes. Patients with sleep disorders can be described as follows:

  • patients who cannot sleep
  • patients who will not sleep
  • patients with increased daytime sleepiness
  • patients with increased movements during sleep 

According to Ayurveda, insomnia, or Anidra, is not just about being tired and sleepless, but it has a more deep-rooted explanation about the nervous system becoming weak and a reduced ability to cope.


Diabetes and sleep disorders


Insomnia also called Anidra / Nidranasha is an imbalance in Tarpaka Kapha, Sadhaka Pitta and PranaVayu.

  • Tarpak Kapha is an additional-dosha of Kapha and its job is to replenish cells of the brain, resulting in a restful night’s sleep. When this dosha is not in balance the brain cells remain under-nourished, causing insomnia (the medical condition used to describe inability to get normal sleep).
  • PranaVayu is an additonal-dosha of Vata it creates a sensitive nervous system, and this, together with an increased PranaVayu, causes insomnia. It’s also related to depression, anxiety and worrying.
  • Sadhak Pitta is an additional-dosha of Pitta which is primarily found in the heart. It’s in control of our emotions, decision-making, spirituality and desires. Any imbalance creates problems for the patient, such as working too hard and too long, and becoming very irritable. This ultimately leads to sleep disorders.3


Diabetes and sleep disorders


(1) Vata-type insomnia: It usually means a restless night in which there is much tossing and turning. A Vatamay person may not fall asleep at all, or wake up between 2 and 4am, and may not go back to sleep until after the heaviness of kapha time starts (after 6am).

(2) Pitta insomnia: Pitta insomnia is when the patient is unable to sleep until the pitta period of the night (10pm-2am) is over. The Pitta insomniac is abnormally-aroused and has too much cortisols (hormones released in case of stress) in their system. They simply cannot ‘switch off’ enough to go to sleep. Pitta related sleep disorder patients are irritable, and may have disturbing dreams about fighting, if they do get enough sleep.

(3) Kapha insomnia: A kapha condition interferes with normal sleep with the symptom of excessive sleep. Waking up too early in the morning (6am) may be a type of Kapha insomnia, as is feeling sluggish (slow-moving, inactive feeling) after a full night’s sleep.


Diabetes and sleep disorders


Depending on your symptoms, it may help you to gather information on your sleep behaviors. Some tests conducted by doctors to diagnose sleep disorders are as follows:

  • Sleep history & sleep log: Your doctor will ask you to maintain a sleep diary and feed information in it based on your sleep patterns, breathing problems, extent of discomfort while sleeping etc. He may evaluate the information regularly to diagnose any particular sleep disorder.
  • Sleep recording in a laboratory: A sleep recording graph is usually done at a sleep laboratory, where your sleeping patterns, breathing pattern, brain, eye, muscle, heart and blood pressure patterns are evaluated.


Diabetes and sleep disorders


Ayurveda suggests use of herbs that have been used since thousands of years to treat behavioural conditions like insomnia and related sleep disorders. Along with herbs, measures like Shirodhara, Shirovasti and Nasya should be prescribed, along with deep relaxation techniques, which are useful in this condition.

Image result for nasya Image result for shirovasti Image result for shirodhara




Shirodhara Shirovasti Nasya

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Ayurvedic herbs, Ashwagandha (to deceases cortisol levels), Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, Jatamansi and Vidari are recommended to soothe vata. Calcium or magnesium-rich foods are important as they are natural sleep inducers (e.g. milk, almonds, brewer’s yeast).
  • In Pitta insomnia must also eat pitta-soothing foods like wheat, basmati rice, oats, barley and corn, millet and rye in moderation and drink cooling herbal teas, like tulsi, rose, liquorice, coriander, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • In Kapha insomnia a kapha-pacifying regime would be beneficial – grains like barley, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, corn, millet, rye, oats, rice and wheat; avoiding vegetables like mashed potatoes, turnips, parsnips etc.; favouring lighter fruits, such as apples, pears are better for Kapha. Reduce heavy or sour fruits, such as oranges, bananas, pineapples, figs, dates, avocados, coconuts and melons.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Counselling, light exercise, yoga, walking, breathing exercise – Pranayama, meditation are helpful in this condition.


Diabetes and sleep disorders
  1. Can diabetes be prevented?

The two most common forms of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Currently, there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, but Ayurveda believes that making lifestyle and diet changes can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. These include exercising regularly, avoiding sugary and oily foods, minimising regular consumption of drinks such as beer, sugarcane juice and milk, and not sleeping too much.

  1. What kind of meal plan is good for diabetes?

Controlling blood sugar levels will help you reduce your diabetes risk. You can achieve this by modifying your diet and including the following in your meals:

  • Barley
  • Herbs- gokshura, gudmar, triphalá, musta, cardamom, fenugreek, or coriander, mixed with honey
  • Cereals- wheat, kodo millet and rice which crops within 60 days.
  • Pulses- adhaki, horse gram (kulattha), green gram (mudga), along with bitter
  • Vegetables- green banana, chaulee, dwarf copperleaf (matsyakhshi), methi (fenugreek leaves) and bitter gourd.
  • Fruits- orange, watermelon, apple, jambu, kapitha and amla
  1. I am a diabetes patient and I have developed a foot infection. How can Ayurveda help me manage this better?

Foot infections are very common in people with diabetes as high blood sugar levels reduce the blood supply to legs, making them more prone to all kinds of foot problems. If you do not take timely care of your foot, it could lead to serious complications and even amputation.

Ayurveda can help you manage your foot infections with a special treatment called shodhana therapy. This therapy purifies the body and expels the aggravated doshas from the body. It includes five procedures or panchakarma indicated for different types of doshas.

  • Before panchakarma- palliative therapy using oil and sweating methods (snehana and svedhana) is performed.
  • During panchakarma- the patient is made to go through emesis (vomiting), purgation (passing of stool), enema and nose therapy.
  • After panchakarma- rejuvenation therapy is performed.
  1. I have diabetes and lately I am experiencing blurry vision and pain in my eyes. What care can I take to manage my condition?

Eye problems are a very common complications of diabetes. When blood sugar levels become too high, diabetic people can get blurry vision leading to some common eye conditions like retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma.

Ayurveda can help you effectively manage your eye problems. It will not only reverse your problem but also make sure no future complications happen. There are a number of ayurvedic techniques that help improve blood circulation and provide nourishment to your eyes. These include:

  • Applying lepa or ointment over eyes
  • Netradhara: Pouring of herbal medicine in a weak stream through the inner corners of the eyes
  • Takradhara: Pouring of buttermilk in a weak stream on the eyes
  • Tharpanam: Hollow wells of black gram paste are gently sculpted around the eyes and medicated oil is poured in these wells
  • Shirodhara: Gently pouring a medicated oil over the forehead
  • Shirolepa: Application of a medicated paste (made up of herbs and medicinal powders) on the forehead
  1. My child recently got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is quite uncommon in children. What could be the causes?

In the past, children were mostly affected only by type 1 diabetes which is mainly caused due to genetic factors. But this isn’t the case anymore. Increased number of children are now getting affected by type 2 diabetes due to bad lifestyle habits, poor diet including junk food consumption and childhood obesity.

  1. Is it common to get diabetes during menopause? If so, why?

It is true. Menopause in women increase their risk of diabetes, leading to many unique challenges. This is because during and after menopause, levels of estrogen hormone in the body decline. This hormonal imbalance causes women to experience increased hunger, increased body fat, reduced metabolism, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Apart from these complications, the change in hormone levels also cause increase and decrease in blood sugar levels. For women who already have diabetes, this can lead to a number of health problems

  1. What lifestyle changes does Ayurveda recommend for people with diabetes?

Certain lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing your diabetes, as they minimise your diabetes related complications and help you become healthy faster. Ayurveda recommends the following lifestyle habits:

  • Exercise regularly. Cardio exercises such as walking, swimming and running help make your heart stronger and reduce your diabetes risk. Regular yoga is also known to be highly beneficial
  • Have regular oil massages
  • Take regular steam
  • Taking sitz or waist bath (warm shallow bath to cleanse the genital area) also helps
  • Include pranayama (breathing exercise) in your daily routine
  1. I have pre-diabetes but I am worried that my condition may have moved to diabetes. Are there any red flags or warning signs to suggest that?

Pre-diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes. If proper care is not taken, pre-diabetes often develops to diabetes, typically within 5 years. Pre-diabetes usually has no signs or symptoms, but once your disease starts progressing to diabetes, some early warning signs may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  1. Is methi in diet good for diabetes? How should it be taken?

Methi or fenugreek (in English) seeds are very useful in diabetes. Eat methi seeds once or twice a day. You can soak them in water overnight, and they can be consumed by chewing, swallowing or in the form of a paste mixed with water.

  1. What are some natural home remedies for diabetes?
  • Mix turmeric with aloe vera gel (1 to 3 gms./.035 to .1 oz) and eat it twice a day
  • Have karela juice or white pumpkin 20-30 ml on an empty stomach
  • Have methi seeds soaked overnight in water once or twice a day
  • Have herbs like gokshura, gudmar, triphalá, musta, cardamom, fenugreek, or coriander, mixed with honey once a day
  1. I have high cholesterol with diabetes. How can Ayurveda help me manage it?

It is very common in people with diabetes to also have high cholesterol. According to Ayurveda, this is due to lack of exercises, intake of fatty foods, sleeping during daytime and improper functioning of thyroid glands. Ayurveda is very effective in controlling cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. It uses a holistic approach by combining diet, exercise and intake of herbal medicine practises. Ayurveda recommends the following diet and lifestyle changes to manage high cholesterol and diabetes:

  • Intake of food that is light in nature and fat-free such as-
  • Vegetables: Karela, Lemongrass, Fenugreek, carrot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Fruits: Banana, apples, strawberry, pears
  • Herbs: Gingko, Garlic, Jatamansi, Tulsi
  • Extracts (Arka): Ajamoda, Arjuna, Ginger, Karela, Kalonji (black cumin), Kokam
  • Oils: Coconut oil
  • Seeds: Flax seed
  • Pulses: Soyabean
  • Regular exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, running and aerobics
  • Pranayama (breathing exercises) and yoga should also be a part of daily routine
  1. I have diabetes and lately I feel depressed all the time. Is it related to diabetes? If so, are there any home remedies that can help me manage it?

It is quite common in people with diabetes to also feel depressed. Depression usually develops in life-long diseases and in case of diabetes, it is caused due to high blood sugar. But fret not, Ayurveda can significantly help you manage your depression using these diet and exercise remedies.

  • Have gruel for three days. It is combination of oats, wheat and flour/rice. Follow this with parched barley powder mixed in water for the next 3 days
  • Regularly practise yoga. Some good yogasanas that can help deal with depression are tadasana, surya namaskar and bhujasana.
  1. What steps can I take to lose weight to manage my diabetes?

Weight gain is both a cause and a complication of diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese when first diagnosed, and therefore, one of the most efficient strategies to control diabetes is to reduce weight. This will not only minimise your diabetes related complications, but will also help you become healthy faster. Ayurveda recommends the following tips to help you manage your weight:

  • Exercise for at least 30-60 minutes everyday
  • Regularly indulge in cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, aerobics etc to improve your heart health
  • Avoid sleeping during the day or being lazy
  • Avoid alcohol intake
  • Adopt yoga as a part of your exercise regime. Certain yoga postures are known to stimulate pancreas (organ that makes insulin) and improve its function leading to better management of diabetes. Some yoga poses that are good for diabetics are kati chakrasana, vakrasana, tadasana, ustrasana, pranayama and surya namaskar
  1. Should I stop eating honey if I want to control my blood sugar levels?

Many diabetics feel that they should quit both sugar and honey if they want to lower their blood sugar and control diabetes. Honey, however, is not harmful in diabetes as long as you moderate how much you are consuming in a day and distribute it throughout the day, instead of eating it all at once. After a meal, the stomach empties slowly and that’s why it is usually advisable to eat honey after a meal, as it not raise your blood sugar as much.

  1. Is there any special diet in Ayurveda for controlling eye problems that arise from diabetes?

Ayurvedic treatment for eye problems focusses on both reversing the symptoms and strengthening the eyes by improving blood circulation and providing nourishment. Diet rich in Vitamin A will be very helpful in controlling eye problems. These include:

  • Fruits like black grapes, pomegranate, and banana
  • Vegetables like gooseberry, bitter gourd, snake gourd, elephant yam, green carrot, radish, and small bringal
  1. Are there different Ayurveda treatments for diabetics that are overweight versus those that are thin?

Ayurveda treatment focusses on an entire change in the lifestyle of the person. The physical structure or body type is very important as the therapies will differ based on that. For overweight people, the main aim of Ayurveda treatment is to reduce fat and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. That is why the treatment includes cleansing procedures such as panchakarma. On the other hand, for thin people, the main aim of Ayurveda treatment is to improve immunity and provide nutrients to prevent further damage from diabetes. That is why the treatment includes more of nourishing procedures and only mild cleansing procedures.


Diabetes and sleep disorders
  1. The Sleep-Diabetes Connection. WebMD. 2010. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/diabetes-lack-of-sleep#2
  2. Ramar K & Olson E. Management of Common Sleep Disorders. American Family Physician. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 21]. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/0815/p231.pdf
  3. Patil Abhijeet B et al. Insomnia (Anidra) and Ayurveda - A Critical Review. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 22]. Available at: http://www.iamj.in/posts/images/upload/775_779.pdf
  4. Diagnosing Sleep Disorders. NIH. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 24]. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/summer12/articles/summer12pg18.html
  5. Ayurvedic Approach to Some Selected Diseases. Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha. [Cited 2016 August 18].
  6. Cavanagh D, Willis C. Essential Ayurveda-The Practical Guide to Healthy Living Published by: Ayurveda Services Limited.

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