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Insomnia Sleeplessness Ayurveda Traditional Treatment and Management

Author : Gurnam Saini  

Ayurvedic Medicine for Sleep (Insomnia)

Ayurvedic medicine for sleep by Pure Herbal Ayurved

Ayurveda has specified Nidra (Sleep) as one of the utmost pillars of health, which is linked with physical and mental health.



According to Charaka (Ayurveda scholar), when the mana (mind) and indriyas (sensory and motor organs) are tired and get dissociated from external objects, then the individual gets sleep. 


As per Ayurveda science, the disturbance in Nidra is linked with improper life style, food habits, or mental stress or fear. Lack of Nidra due to various body and mind doshas disturbance is called as Nidranasha or Anidra. (1)




Ayurveda Pathogenesis for Insomnia (Nidranasha or Anidra)


Ayurveda has explained that, Nidra (Sleep) is initiated by the combination of tamas (mind dosha) and kapha doshas. So any chronic reasons, which can reduce kapha and tamas doshas, could lead to insomnia. (2)


Insomnia is actually a symptom of the disease, as well as an individual disease.


Moreover below three sub-types of doshas are responsible for the manifestation of Insomnia. (3)


  1. Prana Vata- role is to provide balance nervous system. 
  2. Tarpaka Kapha- its job is to provide good nourishment to brain cells, and helps in good sleep.
  3. Sadhaka Pitta- it controls our emotions, spirituality, decisiveness and wishes.


So imbalances in any of above sub-dosha type, may results is Insomnia.


Mainly insomnia is caused by increased Vata- cause nidranasa (sleeplessness), and increase pitta cause alpanidratha (interrupted or disturbed sleep) and depilation of kapha dosha (4)


Causes of Anidra (Insomnina) In Ayurveda Science 


As we understood that aggravation of vata or pitta doshas cause insomnia. Vata helps to initiate the sleep and pitta helps to maintain the sleep. Initially there is aggravation of vata dosha, followed by vitiations in Pitta and Kapha doshas.  Based of Ayurveda texts, below vata and pitta factors may result in insomnia. 


So let’s discuss individually different reasons that are behind  vata and pitta aggravation, leading to insomnia.


Vata causes for Insomnia:


  1. Too much noise.
  2. Too much travel or movements.
  3. Frequent change in time zones or altitude. 
  4. Cold season or cold bedroom.
  5. Excessive indulgence in sexual activities.
  6. Eating too much Vata aggravating foods e.g. cold, dry, raw food etc. 
  7. Irregular sleeping pattern.
  8. Ongoing emotional disorders like stress, anxiety.
  9. Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  10. Withholding emotions, excessive worry.
  11. Over indulgence in fasting.
  12. As a complication of panchakarma detoxification.
  13. Interruption of circadian rhythms e.g. shift work, night work etc.
  14. Unusual and Uncomfortable sleeping setting. 


Pitta causes for Insomnia:


  1. Over heated bedroom.
  2. Eating or drinking too much spicy, hot, citrus food or beverages; e.g. sour fruits, chillies, coffee or caffeinated drinks, wine-red, red meat etc.
  3. Excessive intake of alcohol.
  4. Chronic hyperacidity. 
  5. Going to bed late, especially after midnight.
  6. Summer season.
  7. Excessive greed and jealousy (5)  


Characteristics of different types of Insomnia


As insomnia could be either because of aggravation in vata or pitta doshas; or due to reduction in kapha dosha. So based on which dosha is culprit, insomnia may present differently. Let's discuss various characteristics of vata, pitta and kapha type of Insomnia.


Characteristics of Vata type of Insomnia 


  1. Waking up, every one or two hours, due to unsettle sub-conscious mind.
  2. Usually associated with nightmares, many dreams, night terrors, sweating or palpitation.
  3. Presence of tiredness and drowsiness in the morning or all day.
  4. Presence of other vata system disorder e.g. constipation, flatulence, bloating, and joints inflammatory issues like arthritis, rheumatism.


Characteristics of Pitta type of Insomnia


  1. Difficult to fall sleep.
  2. Waking up usually around 2 am (pitta time).
  3. Usually person like to watch tv, read book or work on internet late, till or beyond midnight.


Characteristics of Kapha type of Insomnia


  1. It’s a mild type of Insomnia, mainly at dawn time or early morning time, person gets woken up.
  2. Easy to start sleep, as person is physically exhausted.
  3. Associated with overeating behaviours, which might leads to difficulty in breathing, snoring, sleep apnoea, depression, and kapha type of emotional disturbing dreams.


Complication of Insomnia (Anidra or Nidranasha)


If not treated early, insomnia could results in mild to severe forms of many complications. Based on the Ayurveda science, below are the main complications related to insomnia.


  1. Affects fertility, happiness, immunity and natural detoxification process.
  2. Leads to lack of cellular nourishment or uptake, and physical weakness, chronic fatigue.
  3. Could imbalance weight and results in obesity.
  4. Constant emotional and physical exertion.
  5. Can oppose the natural growth and developments, at macro and micro levels.
  6. Deteriorate memory, concentration and sharpness. Leads to persistence foggy and grumpy mind.
  7. Imbalance the digestive process and regulation of bowel movements.
  8. Imbalance the cellular metabolism leading to cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes etc. (6)


Clinical Features of Insomnia based on Ayurveda Medicine


Ayurveda texts have explained typical physical and mental features for insomnia. These features should not be ignored, either by person who is suffering or by his/her treating ayurvedic doctor.


1.Angamarda (body ache and stiffness of body) 

2. Shirogaurava (pain and heaviness in head) 

3. Jrambhika (drowsiness, yawning during day) 

4. Apakti (indigestion) 

5. Bhrama (illusion)

6. Glani (weekness)

7. Tandra (drowsiness)

8. Vataj roga (Vata disorder)


General protocol to Treat Insomnia in Ayurveda


Below are the main protocols to treat insomnia. One must take a visit to a local or nearby ayurvedic clinic, to consult with Ayurveda doctor or practitioner, and to find out how these protocols could be introduced safely. 


  1. Nidana parivarjana (prevention of causative factors).
  2. Vata and Pitta pacifying approach- correcting the lifestyle and eating habits.
  3. To introduce healthy and wholesome sweet taste food.  Its balances vata, and increase kapha eg. rice, wheat, sugarcane, grapes, jaggery.
  4. To introduce (healthy and wholesome) heavy quality of foods, especially in lunch time.  It balances vata, and increase kapha eg meat soups, ghee, curd, black lentil etc.
  5. In Pitta insomnia- mild form virechena (therapeutic purgation) is beneficial.


Single Ayurveda Herbal Remedies for different types of Insomnia


Traditionally Ayurveda doctor uses different natural herbs to treat different types of insomnia. Few of them are listed below:


Herbs Useful in Vata Insomnia:


  1. Dashmoola
  2. Ashwgandha
  3. Tagar
  4. Jatamansi
  5. Pippli


Herbs Useful in Pitta Insomnia


  1. Shatavari
  2. Giloy or guduchi
  3. Jatamansi
  4. Shankhapushi


Herbs Useful in Kapha Insomnia


  1. Punarnava
  2. Chitrak
  3. Tagar
  4. Sarasvati


Management of Insomnia with Food or Diet


Mainly foods, which are heavy, sweet, and oily i.e. are vata pacifying but kapha increasing, have been mentioned in Ayurveda texts as the treatment for Anidra or insomnia. Eg. (7)


  1. Anupa Mamsa (meat of marshy land animals).
  2. Audaka Mamsa (meat of aquatic animal).
  3. Dadhi (curd).
  4. Dharoshna Dugdha (warm freshly collected milk).
  5. Draksha (grapes).
  6. Guda (jaggery).
  7. Ikshu Drvaynam (sugarcane preparation).
  8. Kshira (milk).
  9. Laja odana (cooked puffed rice).
  10. Mahish Kshira (buffalo’s milk).
  11. Mahish Mamsa (bufflos meat).
  12. Mahisha Dahi (curd of buffalo's milk).
  13. Mamsa Rasa (meat soup).
  14. Masha (black gram lentil).
  15. Pisthanna (wheat flour preparation).
  16. Shali Anna with Dadhi (rice with curd).
  17. Sukar Mamsa (pork).


Panchakarma treatment for Insomnia 


Below are main panchakarma therapies which are very useful in the treatment of insomnia.


  1. Shiroabhyanga (Head massage), shirodhara (third eye drip) and shirolepa (oil application at crown on the head)- with brahmi, kheerbala, narayana, bringraj, Amala thailam. 
  2. Abhyanga (ayurvedic massage)- with Dhanwantram, Kheerbala oil.
  3. Svedana (steam fermentation)
  4. Nasya Therapy - Anu tailam, Kheerbala thailam
  5. Netra tarpan
  6. Karnapoorana (oiling ears)


Classical Ayurveda medications for Insomnia


Below are the list of most common classical Ayurveda medication, which is used traditionally to treat insomnia and its complications.


  1. Sarasvataarishtam
  2. Ashwagandhaarishtam
  3. Brahmi vati
  4. Draksadiarishtam
  5. Kalyanak Kashyam
  6. Brahmi Ghrtam
  7. Kheerbala 101 Oil 
  8. Varanadi Kashayam 


Yoga therapy for Insomnia 


Daily practice of below yoga posture can help to treat insomnia naturally.


  1. Hala-asana
  2. Saravang-asana
  3. Sheersh-asana
  4. Shav-asana
  5. Pavan-mukt-asana


Pranayama breathing exercise of Insomnia


  1. Anuloma-vilom
  2. Ujjayi


Ayurveda Diet and lifestyle for Treating Insomnia 


Pathya- do to list for Insomnia


  1. Daily Self massage with Ayurveda oil.
  2. Due to presence of Tryptophan, taking full cream cow’s milk (one or half a glass) before bedtime. One can mix half a teaspoon of Nutmeg powder (in vata insomnia), or turmeric powder (in kapha insomnia) for better results.
  3. Listening to meditating music, closer to bed time.
  4. Get engage with any sort of physical exercise during the daytime. But it should be avoided close to bedtime.
  5. Keep bedroom as sleeping place only. Eating, watching tv, using internet should be avoided in the bedroom.
  6. Applying Bringraj or brahmi ayurveda oil on the crown of the head and soles of the feet, before bed.
  7. Taking warm shower closer to bedtime.
  8. Dinner should be 2-3 hours prior to bedtime.
  9. 10-15 minutes of gentle meditation before going to bed.


Apathya- to avoid list for Insomnia


  1. Sleeping during the day time
  2. Consuming caffeine, smoke, alcohol etc. 
  3. Using noisy and illuminating bedroom clocks.
  4. Eating deep fry, rich and oily unwholesome foods. 
  5. Avoid refined carbohydrate and fats.


Ayurveda Treatment for Insomnia In Melbourne, Australia


Ayurveda management used for of insomnia primarily acts by restoring or promoting balance in brain cells chemistry (vata dosha). Ayurvedic herbs or therapies do not results in adverse effects like sedation, dependence etc., which are commonly associated with allopathic sleeping pills. So, Ayurveda has a great holistic potential and can be an alternative for the management of insomnia. But before starting any Ayurveda remedies, one must talk to Ayurveda doctor or practitioner. A comprehensive history and assessment is required to rule out various reasons of insomnia. As treatment in Ayurveda is multidimensional and is based on unique Ayurveda body type, so it is not recommend doing any Ayurveda treatments (including so called “home remedy”) without proper initial consultation. 




If you wish to consult Ayurveda, you may choose to contact one of our Ayurveda Practitioners Gurnam Saini or Pooja Saini in Melbourne. Both of our Practitioners are Qualified Ayurveda Doctors from India. You may contact us at "Pure Herbal Ayurved Clinic".  People who can't reach us personally, may choose for online Ayurveda consultation. 




PH- 0061 430 799 515 

Email- PureHerbalClinic@gmail.com

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Author Bio:

Gurnam Saini has over 15 years’ experience in Ayurvedic naturopathy treatments in Melbourne, Australia. He has completed his bachelor degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, India. He has done MD in Alternative Medicine and certificate courses in Panchakarma Detox, Pulse diagnosis and skin care. He is also a member of the Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA). He has won awards for ground-breaking work in Ayurveda globally. Read More