Ayurvedic treatment for Insomnia

Insomnia

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Insomnia Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS INSOMNIA?

Insomnia refers to a condition where a person has difficulty going to sleep or to stay asleep even though there is adequate opportunity to do so. Many people have insomnia at some or other point in life but some tend to develop it s a constant and long term condition. Often there is any underlying cause for insomnia such as a disease or medication.1

As per Ayurveda, Insomnia is called as Anidra and nidranasha. Sleep is natural rejuvenator of body and mind. Lack of adequate sleep (nidra) causes dukha (pain), karshyata (physical weakness), balahani (loss of power or generalized weakness), klaiebya (infertility), agnaayata (lack of consciousness) and even mrityu (death).2

It is primarily due to vata vaigunyata (vitiation of vata dosha or imbalance in body) that Anidra (insomnia) occurs in a person.2 Diseases like Unmada and Pshchological factors like Bhaya, shoka Chinta are also responsible for loss of sleep.

Causes

Insomnia

INSOMNIA CAUSES

The cause of insomnia are multifactorial it is difficult to point out one single cause. Although, some common causes of insomnia can be:1

  • Due to anxiety and/or Stress.
  • Any types of depressive disorders
  • A physical problem such as chronic pain or need for frequent urination etc
  • Change in a person’s surroundings or schedule.
  • Poor sleeping habits.
  • Some specific medications.
  • High consumption of coffee, smoking and alcohol.

Symptoms

Insomnia

INSOMNIA SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of Insomnia, generally include the following1 -

  • Having difficulty in falling asleep at night
  • Sudden awakening during the night
  • Awakening earlier than normal
  • A feeling of fatigue in-spite of sleeping all night
  • Sleepiness during the day
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Problems in paying attention or focus
  • Having headaches

Generally, someone with insomnia would take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep and on average get only 6 or lesser hours of sleep for 3 or more nights in a week.1

Diagnosis

Insomnia

INSOMNIA DIAGNOSIS

Apart from a physical examination to evaluate painful conditions or any other issues, doctors can generally ask for a sleep questionnaire and a sleep diary to see the patterns of sleep.1

Occasionally, blood tests may be done to check for any other conditions such as thyroid problems - that can cause insomnia.1

A visit to a sleep center may also be recommended where detail tests are done as you sleep to check for brain waves, heartbeats and eye movements’ etc.1

Management

Insomnia

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR INSOMNIA

Vata shamak chikitsa is recommended.

Biopurificatory measures like abhyanga, shirodhara and nasya karma may be beneficial. Meditation, chanting mantras may help relax body and mind and induce sleep.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

A light diet should be planned in accordance with the basic principles according to dosha and prakruti. Last meal should not occur after sunset.

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Proper sleep patterns should be followed. If someone misses sleep, he/she should sleep o=in the day for half of the time missed but on an empty stomach.

Ayurveda further advocates Nasya (nasal administration of drugs) and Murdhni Chikitsa which includes Shiro-abhyanga (massage of head with medicated oil), Shiriseka (pouring of medicine on head), Shiropichu (placing of oil on the anterior fontanel for the particular time ) and Shirobasti for Mana(mental status) and Indriya vikaras (diseases of eye, ear, head and mental disorders). 2

FAQS

Insomnia
  1. Why is stress bad for my health?
    Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Some of the common effect that stress can cause but we may not realize are -
  • Headache,
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems etc.

Hence it is very important that stress should not be ignored as a condition and immediate medical support should be sought for it.

  1. What are the reasons for depression/How does depression happen?

There are no specific reasons that can lead to depression. Every person responds to any situation in different ways.

Yet, depression can happen to anyone and at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents too. There are no specific risk factors, but following things increase the chances of someone to have depression -

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  1. What is addiction? How does it affect someone?

Addiction refers to the dependence on a legal or illegal drug, alcohol or medication. When addicted, people are not able to control their use of the substance, and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Alcohol/drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.

  1. Why do I feel anxious without any apparent reason?

While the exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood, it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior or it may be genetic in origin. Often use of drugs, smoking or alcohol can be an underlying cause of anxiety.

However, many people develop anxiety for no apparent reason and it is therefore advisable to report it to the doctor and work towards managing the condition.

  1. Do children suffer from depression?

While depression is generally associated with adults or senior citizens, it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety.

Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. Depression in children often presents with irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, Change in school grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, change in eating habits etc. These symptoms should not be ignored and possibility of depression in such children may be considered.

  1. How is Bipolar disorder caused? Is it only genetic?

A lot of research in neuropsychology has shown that there is research has shown that there is no single cause responsible for BPD. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk. Genetics is just one of them.

While research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others, it is also seen that genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

  1. Are phobias serious to a personal health?

Generally speaking, a ‘phobia’ is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance in the sufferer. Although many feel that phobias are harmless, they can be destructive to those who have them, causing the following problems that affect many aspects of life - such as social isolation, depression, lead to substance abuse, and may be the reason behind suicide too.

  1. Are there any specific herbs that are specifically used to improve mental faculties?

Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia describes the various herbs and their qualities in details. Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are considered amongst herbs that improve mental faculties and should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle especially for children.

  1. What are the common symptoms of dementia? Is any memory loss called Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. A common symptom is memory loss but it is not the only symptom. Other problems can be low thinking speed, diminished mental agility, problems with language, understanding and judgement.

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change.

  1. I often forget things or important tasks. Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

Occasional forgetfulness or missing things due to lack of concentration or time may not necessarily be a serious condition. But if you continuously forget things or tend to forget simple day to day tasks – this may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any progressive memory loss should not be ignored and bought to medical attention, even if it seems negligible or not serious.

  1. I had a road rage incident today, I feel nervous and afraid to ride on the road again. Why is this so?

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. This needs to be bought to medical attention and can be managed with counseling and therapy.

  1. What are the consequences of inattentiveness or weak memory of school children? Does this need to be cared for?

A weak memory leading to learning problems can have long term adverse social and economic outcomes. They include grade repetition, behavioral disorders, mood and self-esteem difficulties and school failure during the school years, and unemployment and poverty in adulthood. By using medhya rasayana, Ayurved promises improvement in working memory and improved grades ad performance among school children.

  1. What is post partum depression? Does every new mother go through it?

New mothers generally report ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). Uncommonly, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

References

Insomnia
  1. Mayo Clinic. Insomnia. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/basics/definition/con-20024293 accessed Aug 28th 2016
  2. Wadhawa K, et al. Classical Ayurvedic Management of Insomnia (Anidra) – A Case Study. J Ayur Hol Med (JAHM).2016;4(1):37-42
  3. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment of psychiatry-mental-diseases and/or insomnia without consulting the doctor. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime. "While we have products /ayurvedic medicines for psychiatry-mental-diseases and/or insomnia, you must consult an authorized physician before taking any of the products. For more information on products, visit www.dabur.com or call 1800-103-1644"