Sleep is the body's natural mechanism to rejuvenate itself.
Which is why, lack of sleeping hours can derail your entire day in terms of slowing down your metabolism, energy levels and brain activity.
But if you find it hard to fall or remain asleep for straight 7-8 hours, then you could be in for more trouble.
Insomnia is a chronic disorder where an individual isn’t able to maintain a healthy sleep pattern.
It can last for any long period from weeks to months or years.
On the other hand, sleep apnea is a sub-type of sleep disorders that is characterized by inability to breathe during sleeping, snoring and breathlessness.
Fatigue, mood swings and poor metabolic rate are other allied signs of insomnia and sleep apnea.
Both of these disorders can gradually drain your body’s strength, making you susceptible to develop fatal illnesses.
But thankfully, they can be curbed with the right lifestyle changes and medical formulations.
Bad Signs to Watch Out: Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
Disturbed Sleep: You may find yourself snoring, waking up in the middle of the night, gasping for air or difficult to remain asleep.
Extreme Mood Swings: Sudden anger, irritability or episodes of anxiety are common. They occur due to exhaustion of brain cells. They can predispose you to depression.
Poor Cognitive Performance: Insomnia can drain your brain’s capacity to think clearly, respond to stimuli or retain information. This can disengage you from day-today activities.
Unexplained Fatigue: Day time sleepiness and morning headache are common effects of insomnia. They can get severe as the condition prolongs.
Thieves of Good Shut Eye: Causes of Sleep Disorders
Stress: Excessive strain on the eyes and brain can meddle with the body’s natural rejuvenation process i.e sleep. They may also produce physiological symptoms like weakness, hormonal imbalance etc.
Family History: In general, individuals above 60 years of age are at higher risk of developing sleep disorders. But those with a close kin suffering to the same, are most likely to face it later in life.
Substance Abuse: Recreational drugs and caffeine are highly potent compounds that impact the central nervous system. They can damage or suppress brain functions like sleep cycle, thinking ability etc.
Hectic Schedule: Staying on the computer for long hours or leading an “outdoor” life can tax on your sleep in many ways. They can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.
Psychological Disorders: Depression, PTSD and bipolar mood disorder are some conditions that lead to a loss of sleep.
Ways to Restart Sleep Cycle: Treatment Options to Checkout
Cognitive behavioral therapy: A psychological approach towards insomnia treatment. Helps to inculcate mental habits that reduce stress and anxiety during night hours.
Chemical Formulations: Pills like Eszopiclone and Ramelteon are common insomnia medications used by adults of all ages. They help to induce and retain sleep. Can lead to dependency in the long run.
Assistive Devices: Antihistamines and airway pressure devices are useful to prevent sleep disturbance caused by breathing difficulties.
Surgery: They are usually recommended to sleep apnea patients. Helps to reposition the nasal tissue for ease of air passage. Can repair damaged nerve endings too.
Ayurvedic Treatment for insomnia: Uses a mixed healing strategy where herbs and Yoga are used to regulate brain activities. Focuses on curbing the underlying causes of insomnia like mental disturbances, poor gut health etc.
Unlike allopathic alternatives, Ayurvedic medicines do not produce any dependency or long term effects for users.
Rather, they promote overall well being of the patient to prevent recurrence of physical or mental disorders.
That’s why Ayurveda is acknowledged as the best treatment for insomnia.
How to Maintain Healthy Sleep Pattern: Prevention Tips
Cut Back on Stimulants: Avoid consumption of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. They disturb the natural circadian rhythm of the brain.
Eat Wisely: All natural ways to treat insomnia require a healthy gut. Take your dinner between 7-9 pm every day. Keep it light, with a heavier bite of veggies and healthy fats.
Avoid Daytime Naps: Sleeping for longer than 30 minutes during the day can hamper your sleep quality at night. It also alters the sleep-wake cycle.
Get in the Mood: Follow a sleep schedule. Make a list of routine tasks like brushing, moisturizing, light Yoga etc. that you will perform before hitting bed. Do them at the same time every night.
No Liquid Before Bed: Do not consume heavy amounts of water or juice at least 1-2 hours before sleep time. And make sure to use the washroom before you lie down.
Lay Down and Relax: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Chamomile Tea: Most effective home remedies to treat insomnia that works for both children and adults. Drink one cup right before hitting bed to slowly unwind your brain into sweet sleep.
Oil Massage: Dosha imbalances are the foremost reasons for insomnia. Applying warm mustard, coconut or sesame oil on your head and feet can help to channelize these internal energies.
Grape Bowl: Consume a bowl of grapes before hitting bed. Its melatonin helps to eliminate blood toxins, thereby soothing the overactive brain cells.
Mint Sip: Boil 1-1.5 tsp of mint leaves powder in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Strain and sip it hot before your bedtime. You can add a dash of honey to your cup for improving its flavour.
Follow Sleep Hygiene: Use a clean bedsheet and pillow cover. Do not use strong light in the bedroom. You can take a hot shower before you hit bed. Most importantly, keep your bedroom gadget free.
Music Therapy: Listen to soft music, preferably compositions or natural sounds for 30-60 minutes. Keep the lights off and wrap yourself in a blanket while you do so.
Nature’s Treasure: Ayurvedic Herbs for Weight Loss
Brahmi: Most popular of all herbs for insomnia. Suits every body type. Generates a relaxing effect on the tensed muscles and neurons. Stimulates the neural connections to enhance cognitive function.
Ashwagandha: One of the ways to treat insomnia is to curb mental stress and anxiety. And this herb performs that function for you! Contains bioactive compounds that calms the nervous system.
Yashtimadhu: Regulates the hormonal balance to release the strain built up on the brain and muscle tissues. Helps to normalize sleep-wake cycle. Revitalizes the mind to boost energy levels.
Shankhpushpi: Mildly scented and soothing herb powered by natural bioactive compounds. Relieves mental exhaustion to induce sleep. Best for treating chronic stress and restlessness.
Mandookaparni: Also known as Gotu Kola. Not only improves sleep function, but also reduces risks of side effects of sleep apnea and insomnia. Can help with digestive issues like ulcers, bowel irregularities etc.
Working Out Sleeplessness: Yoga for Insomnia
It is a common misconception that Yoga is only for early morning risers.
In fact, there are a number of Yoga postures you can practice right before bed time to improve sleep quality.
They help to bring down the hyperactivity of neurons, ease the muscles and reinvigorate the mind.
Here are some poses you can add to your 15 minutes Yoga routine to complete your insomnia treatment at home:
Wide-Knee Child’s Pose (Balasana): Calms down the throbbing blood pressure. Brings the mind to a meditative state. Relaxes the muscles from waist down.
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): Best posture for treating leg cramps or stiffness. Re-directs blood flow to vital organs. Irons out the bulges in the spine.
Corpse Pose (Savasana): Eased out form of meditation. Helps to relieve mental stress. Subdues excess brain energy. In short, perfect for “end of the day” detox!
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