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Understanding Insomnia- analyse causes to treat the condition

Circadian rhythm defines the state of health. The balance insinuates good health, positivity and fulfillment. Sleepless nights drain the energy in the morning, sets in lethargy, risks the health and fogs the mind. It not only affects at the physical level but also mental and spiritual level.

The person becomes irritable, less productive and becomes a subject of loathe and pity.

I recently came across a colleague who sought my help to address his issue of sleepless nights and various other symptoms associated with it. His problem was that of overthinking and complicating the simple issues of workplace and home. Stress was eating his brains all the time. His was symptomatic of the modern-day challenge of living in a very hyper competitive world, especially in the days of nuclear family. His hyperactive mind never allowed him to sleep naturally. He resorted to pills and injection to address the issue but went nowhere with the quick fix western medicine.

So many of us the same problem of sleep deprivation. While there are 4 categories of lack of sleep, I am focusing just on the problem faced by my colleague. In fact, 1 out of 3 adults suffer from insomnia. Our inability to decipher the problem from symptom leads to severe consequences There are short term and log term consequences. Sonner you address the issue better it is.

Q1. Do you know the reason/s for not sleeping well?

A1. Well, I think a lot even for small problem. I find it difficult to separate the issue of getting stressed to finding a solution. I think solutions do not occur to me as I am only thinking about the problem and complicating the same internally.

Q2. Can you describe your activities after you reach home from work?

A2. I drive my motorbike thinking what will happen if the bike tyre get punctured or if I meet with an accident. After reaching home I drink a cup of coffee (read empty stomach), go to my room to freshen up, then check my phone for social media posts of my friends. At 7pm I take my dinner (read heavy dinner of red meat generally with very little vegetables), watch tv (changing channel every now and then) and go to bed. I take my pills hoping that I can fall asleep. My mind goes to the thinking mode again. And I struggle a lot to sleep. If I can’t sleep, I go back to watch Television again.

Q3. How do you wake up? What do you do after waking up?

A3. I wake up exhausted (red wake up on alarm) and lie down for most of the time when the pressure of reporting to work on time force me out of bed. I have little energy in the morning and the mood is not very positive. I feel irritable with every small talks and problems at home. I take coffee (red empty stomach) in the morning and leave for work place.

Q4. Do you do any exercise? How physically active you are on daily basis?

A4. Not really, my movements are really work related. I play some soccer once a twice in a month. Rest of the time I do not engage in exercise or physical sports.

He does not have any medical complication (apart from insomnia). As you may see, the problem with diet, lifestyle and habits have thrown off his normal circadian rhythm off balance. When life were simpler, such conditions were rare.

I prepared a daily routine chart (Dinacharya) to address his issue, sharing the same below to enable the readers to make changes in their life if they face similar challenges in their life.

  1. Prepare a day before- sleep by 10pm, keep water by the bedside for early morning consumption. Soak 5-6 pieces of almond.
  2. Wake up between 5- 5:30 am even when you feel sleepy and lethargic. You may experience difficulty for the first few days as the body will try to get adjusted to the new schedule.
  3. Drink at least 2 full glasses the water kept overnight by the bedside. This will help prepare for the bowel movement. Once bowel is cleaned, you will feel light and energetic. Brush your teeth and clean your eyes and ears.
  4. Peel the almonds and eat them. Go for morning walk/ jog/ exercise for at least 30-45 minutes. After the physical exertion, sit down comfortably at one place and inhale and exhale deeply for about 10 times.
  5. Shower every day. Take healthy and wholesome breakfast like toast and egg or porridge or traditional breakfast (without the red meat and sausage- they slow down the metabolic process, making us feel sluggish early in the morning). Do not mix fruit or fruit juices with food. Keep a gap of at least 60 minutes between food and fruit or juice. If you feel thirsty, drink warm water or green tea with breakfast
  6. Avoid watching TV or using handphone while having breakfast.
  7. Avoid unnecessary snaking, instead allow the hunger to build over a period of time for better digestion and assimilation. You can take cucumber, some cut fruits, apple or wholegrain sandwich if feeling very hungry and depleted. DO NOT TAKE COFFEE EMPTY STOMACH
  8. Take a balanced meal during lunchtime comprising of wholegrains, salad, vegetables or lean meat or fish. Avoid having a large piece of meat and white rice (this was primarily his lunch every day without much dietary fibre). Take warm water with meal, avoid sugared juice.
  9. Take a gentle walk after lunch. This will help digest the food better and not make you sluggish.
  10. After you go home, spend time with family and children to learn about their day. Encourage family communication to build good bonding and trust. Avoid usual distractions during conversations. Keep handphone away and TV in off mode.
  11. Use diffuser and calming oil in the house in evening. The aroma helps soothe the nerves and calm down the restless mind.
  12. Take your dinner latest by 7:30pm every day. Eat meal comprising of vegetable or chicken soup, some lightly cooked vegetables and lean protein. Avoid dessert and salad in the night time as they take longer to digest due to their cold potency. Take warm water or herbal tea lime chamomile or rosemary with meal.
  13. There must be a gap of two hours between meal and bed time. Go out for the gentle evening walk if not raining.
  14. Avoid TV and handphone in after dinner. Just before going to bed inhale and exhale for 10 times.

I recommended these measure for 1 months before we could review it. Post the first month, the gentleman started experiencing improvement in sleep pattern, general health and his relationships with family and friends. He felt committed to embrace it wholeheartedly in his life to enjoy the consistent results and the ensuing benefits. Most of us face this challenge in life especially when we find the stress overwhelming and do not know how to let the steam go off from time to time.

The chart which I prepared for him was inspired by Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle recommendation which are so universal. I hope that he can keep a consistent Dinacharya to keep benefitting from the timeless wisdom of this ancient science.

“Namaste” and happy reading