Sleepless nights stalk the body in many ways for many reasons. Primary issues are stress, hormonal imbalances, and depression. Not getting enough sleep affects the brain, the body, and emotional well being. It’s serious when it is on-going.
Make sure you are getting enough Calcium, especially Calcium Lactate or Chelate, 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily, along with 1,000 mg of Magnesium. If you fall asleep then wake later in the night, often the lack of Calcium contributes to this pattern.
Get enough exercise during the day. Even a short walk can make a sleep difference. Do cooling Yoga Poses in the evening-see suggestions below.
Eat foods high in tryptophan at dinner: turkey, figs, dates, yogurt, tuna, bananas, grapefruit.
Avoid caffeine, especially after 12:00 PM.
Avoid or reduce high protein meals in the evening. This includes beans and tofu. They block serotonin production.
Avoid or reduce alcohol. It is not a sedative, despite what you think. The body converts it to a chemical, acetaldehyde, which is a stimulant. This wakens you in the early hours. And it builds up more in men than women.
Try to eat earlier which helps the digestive process.
Avoid or reduce the following foods in the evenings: sugar, cheese, chocolate, sauerkraut, wine, bacon, ham, sausage, potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes. They contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
Helpful herbs to take as a tea or extract before bed: valerian root, skullcap, catnip, hops, lady slipper, passionflower, and chamomile.
There are several good homeopathics, one is simply called, ‘insomnia.’
If you can have a sample of your hair analyzed for copper or iron deficiency, many doctors believe this deficiency contributes to insomnia, especially in women.
Ayurvedic Notes on Insomnia
Insomnia is a disorder created by an imbalance of vata in the nervous system.
Drink warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg, or cardamom. or add crushed almonds.
Nutmeg helps with calming sleep. Ingest it, or make a paste of nutmeg and ghee to rub on forehead and around the eyes before bed.
Drink a cup of tomato juice in early evening, possibly with a pinch of nutmeg, and or with natural sugar.
Cherries are helpful for stress, fresh or frozen.
Four dates before bed helps calm the nerves.
Don’t eat a late dinner or exercise late in the afternoon.
Warm oil self massage, especially on scalp and soles of feet.
Hot bath with lovely scents and candlelight.
Add the pranayama/breath sounds of “so hum.” Inhale think “So” then exhale to “Hum.” Stay focused on third eye, the space between your eyebrows.
Build the habit of not allowing worries from the day to enter this time-space. Declare it ‘off limits’ to anything but blissful peace.
A wonderful antidote to worries in the night is to chant. It’s not possible to chant and worry at the same time. Repeat any mantra that fills you with hope, peace, and calm.
Make sure to get enough exercise in the day! Before bed, do series of forward folds while lengthening the breath, especially the exhale, to release tension. Make the exhale 2-4 counts longer than inhale.
Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Down Dog
Uttana Shishosana – Extended Puppy Pose
Samamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder Stand
Salamba Sirsasana – Supported Head Stand
Supta Virasana-Reclining Hero Pose
Savasana-Corpse Pose ( Focus on breath, feeling soft and relaxed)