blogs, Ayurvedic Treatment

Ayurveda & Allopathy approaches to Insomnia treatment. Which is better for you ?

Ayurveda & Allopathy approaches to Insomnia treatment. Which is better for you ?

Introduction:

Insomnia, also known as sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder characterised by individuals having difficulty sleeping for either short or long periods of time. Sleep is essential for many reasons, and the body requires it for optimal functioning. When insomnia persists, it can severely impact an individual’s quality of life.

Insomnia can be classified in two primary ways: by duration and by cause.

In terms of duration, experts categories insomnia as either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Chronic insomnia is also referred to as an insomnia disorder.

When considering the cause, insomnia can be primary or secondary. Primary insomnia occurs independently, while secondary insomnia is a symptom of another condition or circumstance. 

Examples of conditions that can trigger insomnia include:

  • ADHD
  • Psychological stress
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Medications and substances (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol)
  • Sleep apnea

Insomnia treatment involves addressing both the underlying causes and symptoms through a combination of therapies, lifestyle adjustments, and, in some cases, medications.

Types of Insomnia

  1. Transient Insomnia: This lasts from one night to a few weeks.
  2. Acute Insomnia: This lasts from a few weeks to about six months.
  3. Chronic Insomnia: This can last for years at a time.
Ayurveda & Allopathy approaches to Insomnia treatment. Which is better for you?

Symptoms of Insomnia

  1. Sleep-onset insomnia is difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.

2. Including difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position

3. Waking during the night, being unable to return to sleep and waking up early

4. Not able to focus on daily tasks, difficulty in remembering

5. Daytime sleepiness, being irritable, depression or acting aggressive

6. Feeling tired or having low energy during the day 

7. Trouble concentrating

The Rise of Restless Nights: Why Insomnia is Increasing in India

Insomnia is a significant concern in India, with studies suggesting up to 33% of adults are affected. 

What’s causing this increase?

This rise can be attributed to our changing lifestyle.:

  • Intrusion of modern gadgets
  • Increased stress levels
  • Demanding work cultures
  • Mental health issues
  • Cultural factors

The fast-paced life and pressure to succeed further exacerbate the situation. The need for effective insomnia treatment has never been greater.

Insomnia Treatment: How Does Allopathy Approach?

Insomnia Treatment: How Does Allopathy Approach?

Allopathic insomnia treatment typically involves a multi-faceted approach to address both the underlying causes and symptoms. Here’s a breakdown of the most common methods:

Non-medical therapies: For transient and acute insomnia (short-term), non-medical therapies are often the first line of treatment. This includes sleep hygiene education, which focuses on developing healthy sleep habits and creating a sleep-conducive environment.

Medications: For chronic insomnia (long-term), a sleep study may be recommended to diagnose any underlying sleep disorders. Medications to help with sleep initiation or maintenance might be prescribed, but they are usually considered a second-line treatment due to potential side effects and dependence.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a structured program that is highly effective for both acute and chronic insomnia. It teaches individuals techniques to improve sleep habits, manage stress, and challenge negative thoughts about sleep.

Addressing the Underlying Cause: If insomnia is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as anxiety, depression, or pain, treatment for the primary condition will be crucial. This may involve a combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle modifications tailored to the specific condition

Insomnia Treatment: How Does Ayurveda Approach?

Ayurveda tackles insomnia treatment holistically, focusing on addressing the root cause of the sleeplessness and promoting overall well-being. Here’s how it tackles insomnia:

Insomnia Treatment: How Does Ayurveda Approach?

Identifying Dosha Imbalances:

Ayurveda recognises three mind-body types or doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha). According to Ayurveda, insomnia often stems from imbalances in these doshas. An Ayurvedic practitioner will identify the imbalanced dosha and recommend treatments to restore balance.

Lifestyle and Dietary Practices:

Ayurveda emphasises creating healthy sleep habits and dietary practices to promote better sleep naturally. 

This may involve:

  • Following a Vata-pacifying diet rich in warm, cooked foods, healthy fats, and moderate proteins to calm the Vata dosha, often linked to insomnia.
  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine that includes avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m. and relaxing in a hot bath before bed.
  • Reducing stress through practices like yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises).
  • Maintaining a calm, dark, and quiet bedroom devoid of electronic devices.
  • Eating fresh, whole foods that are easy to digest and avoiding processed foods, alcohol, artificial additives, and excessive caffeine.
  • Including a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

Herbal Remedies:

Certain Ayurvedic herbs are known to promote sleep and reduce anxiety.  Some commonly used ones include Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, and Jatamansi. These can be taken in various forms like capsules or teas.

Herbal supplements, teas, and oils are all viable delivery mechanisms for plants. Ashwagandha, in particular, has been shown to be effective in studies for lowering stress and enhancing sleep.

Ayurveda suggests changing one’s routine. This includes not consuming caffeine after 2 p.m., following a soothing bedtime ritual, and sleeping in a cool, dark room.

Ayurvedic Therapies:

Specific Ayurvedic therapies can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. 

Understanding Sleep Patterns and Aging

Ayurvedic Perspective on Sleep

Ayurveda emphasises both the quantity and quality of sleep, considering it a vital aspect of health. Sleep supports the balance of bodily elements, particularly emphasising the role of kapha, vata, and pitta.

Ayurvedic Guidelines for Sleep

According to Ayurveda, optimal sleep should begin around 8 PM, align with the onset of darkness, and conclude around 4 – 4:30 AM. This timing ensures more than 7 hours of rest, maximising the benefits of sleep.

Recommended Sleep Duration

While individual differences exist, adults typically require a minimum of 7+ hours of quality sleep per night. This recommendation remains consistent as individuals enter their senior years.

Changes in Sleep Quality with Age

As individuals age, sleep quality tends to diminish gradually. Lighter sleep, increased nap frequency, and multiple nighttime awakenings become common.

Ayurveda & Allopathy approaches to Insomnia treatment. Which is better for you?

Modern Insights on Sleep Timing

Contemporary research echoes Ayurvedic principles, suggesting that sleep between 8 PM and 2:30 AM yields the most significant health benefits. Establishing a bedtime between 8 and 10 PM is recommended for adults to optimise sleep benefits.

Ayurvedic Treatments for Insomnia:

Since Ayurveda doesn’t have specific single drugs or therapies for insomnia, unlike allopathy, where doctors generally prescribe medications like Eszopiclone (Lunesta), Ramelteon (Rozerem), Temazepam (Restoril), Triazolam (Halcion), Zaleplon (Sonata), or Zolpidem tartrate (Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar), it’s not possible to highlight a specific medicine or therapy for insomnia in Ayurveda either. However, in acute cases, doctors generally prescribe a combination of therapies, medicines, and lifestyle changes.

Factors Considered While Prescribing Ayurvedic Treatments for Insomnia

The therapies are based purely on:

  • The stage of the patient’s insomnia
  • The patient’s body’s constitution
  • Any prevailing medical conditions or underlying health issues
  • The season or prevailing weather in the location

Following are some of the therapies that patients may undergo, along with medicines and lifestyle changes. However, the duration of these insomnia treatments is purely based on the individual patient’s condition.

Abhyanga (Oil Massage)

Applying stimulating oils like Bhringaraj and Til Taila to the shira (head) and pressing down on the scalp in gentle, circular motions soothes the mind. This, in turn, boosts blood circulation to the central nervous system and helps overcome sleeplessness.

Samvahana (Body Massage)

This reviving procedure involves a harmonising full-body massage using soft materials like silk and fluffy brushes, as well as aromatic essential oils such as almond, rose, jasmine, lavender, and sandalwood. Also comprising a pacifying steam bath, it offers noteworthy soporific and aphrodisiac characteristics, vastly improving the quality of sleep.

Shirodhara

Shirodhara is a classical and well-established ayurvedic procedure of slowly and steadily dripping medicated oil or other liquids on the forehead, promoting deep relaxation.

Shiroabhyanga

A therapeutic head massage with herbal oils customised to your specific needs and dosha imbalance. The warm herbal oil is used to calm and balance your mind and nervous system.

Detoxification

In some cases, Ayurveda may recommend panchakarma, a process to cleanse the body of accumulated toxins that may be contributing to sleeplessness.

When Should You Seek care?

If you notice that insomnia lasts for more than a few nights or begins to affect your daily routine, you should seek a healthcare provider.

If you are a chronic patient with other medical conditions, your medications may affect your sleep.

Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of sleep patterns and ageing is vital for maintaining overall well-being. Integrating Ayurvedic wisdom with modern insights can effectively guide individuals in achieving restorative sleep and fostering better health outcomes.

Ayurveda provides a natural approach to managing insomnia, emphasising relaxation, stress reduction, and holistic well-being. If you’re experiencing persistent insomnia, consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner for a personalised treatment plan could be beneficial. They can offer guidance on various practices and determine the suitability of this approach for your needs.

Uway Health is a leading Ayurvedic clinic in Bangalore. If you are looking for an effective and holistic way to manage sleep disorders, contact us at support@uwayhealth.com

Follow Us on Facebook , Instagram , LinkedIn, X

Ask a Question

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *