By MAPI Staff writers -
On a typical day in America, 125 million people wake up feeling
exhausted. For 50 percent of the nation’s population, getting a good
night’s sleep is difficult.
Fatigue caused by sleep difficulties is now considered one of
America’s top health problems. Medical researchers say lack of sleep can
lead to health problems ranging from blood sugar issues to high stress
show that people who sleep fewer than six hours a night don’t live as
long as those who sleep seven hours or more. Sleeping only four hours a
night can cause weight gain as well as difficulty maintaining healthy
blood sugar and blood pressure levels. The National Sleep Foundation
estimates that sleeplessness costs the U.S. economy $150 billion a year
in higher levels of worker stress and reduced productivity.
Stress and Sleepless Nights: A Vicious Cycle
The incidence of sleep difficulties is on the rise in America. We are
increasingly a 24/7 society, in which high stress levels and time
pressures have become a part of normal modern living. Many people would
gladly get more sleep if they could, but the information age, which was
supposed to make everything more efficient, has only made everything
Americans frequently find themselves too tense or worried to fall
asleep at night because of stress accumulated throughout the day. This
lack of sleep, in turn, creates even more stress on the job and at home,
resulting in a vicious cycle. Many choose to short-change their sleep –
sleeping less than six hours a night – making them highly vulnerable to
sleep disorders, stress syndrome, and multiple health problems.
Millions are addicted to tranquilizers to reduce stress during the
day, and sleeping pills to induce sleep at night. However, you can’t
induce a natural state of sleep with products that are unnatural,
synthetic, and, in many cases, highly addictive. It is recommended that
patients who have difficulty sleeping restore a balanced rest/activity
cycle by practicing the Transcendental Meditation®
technique, or other stress-reducing practices, to allow the body to
deal with the stress of the day. The TM technique has been shown in a
number of studies to reduce stress and sleep difficulties. Traditional
Ayurvedic herbal formulations have also been shown to help. Study findings suggest that the Ayurvedic herbal supplement Blissful Sleep
may be of benefit to patients who have difficulty falling asleep, while
avoiding the negative side effects of commonly-prescribed medications.
Ayurveda also offers diet and lifestyle recommendations to support
normal healthy sleep and sleep patterns.
The Ayurvedic Approach
The goal of the Ayurvedic approach is to create more ojas – the
finest product of digestion – which provides energy, enthusiasm,
happiness, clarity of thinking, better coordination between the heart
and mind, an experience of connection and better immunity. “Only the
deepest, most restful sleep, called stage 4 sleep by researchers,
creates ojas,” say Ayurvedic experts. Good-quality sleep provides deeper
rest to the mind and senses, and enhances capacity for mental and
physical work the next day. On the other hand, lack of sleep increases
ama, or toxins, in the body.
Following are a few tips from Maharishi Ayurveda:
- Do a morning massage, or abhyanga, with Rejuvenation Massage Oil
- Exercise every day
- Sip warm water throughout the day
- Avoid eating too many heavy, sweet, sour, and salty foods
- Eat a light, warm dinner (soup is ideal) and season the food with fresh ginger and a small amount of black pepper
- Drink Organic Kapha Tea three times a day and Slumber Time Tea before bed
- Take Deep Rest one hour before bed if you have trouble staying asleep and/or Blissful Sleep one hour before bed if you have trouble falling asleep.
- Try Slumber Time Aroma to help you fall asleep easily at night
The sleep products from Maharishi Ayurveda have a three-fold action.
Some of the herbs, such as Jatamansi and Indian Valerian, help a person
to relax into sleep. A large number of research studies show that Indian
Valerian promotes sleep. Other herbs, such as Bacopa and Ashwagandha,
restore the body’s own inner intelligence to promote a deeper quality of
sleep. A third group of herbs helps address the effects resulting from
prolonged sleep issues, such as weakened immunity or weakened
coordination between heart and mind.
Due to the synergistic combination of a variety of whole herbs, there
are no side-effects. There is no groggy feeling (as created by modern
drugs and by some single-ingredient natural remedies). Instead people
report a fresh feeling, a renewed ability to concentrate, reduced
stress, and better management ability. Regardless of the cause of your
sleep imbalance, Ayurvedic experts recommend that you try to be in bed
before 10:00 at night. That’s because after 10:00, a more active,
Pitta-quality sleep sets in. If you fall asleep before then, you’ll
imbibe the slower, more restful Kapha qualities. Not only will you fall
asleep more easily, but also the quality of your sleep will be deeper.
Almost anyone can experience deep, restful, stage 4 sleep by doing just
this one thing – going to bed before 10:00 at night.
Many of these recommendations are substantiated by research. Sleep
researchers, for instance, have documented that a brief period of
moderate exercise three to four hours before bed, such as taking a brisk
walk after dinner, can really help deepen sleep. Other studies link
physical fitness with improved sleep quality. Finally, a recent study at
the University of California at San Diego by Dr. Paul Mills showed that
the Worry Free herbal supplement is effective in reducing day-to-day anxiety and cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress).
Creating a Timeless Bedroom
Create a timeless bedroom and keep time pressures away from your
sleeping place. If you have to use an alarm clock, put it in a place
where you can’t see it. Preserve your bedroom as a comfortable, relaxing
haven – a place for warm, intimate and relaxing relationships. Keep
heated discussions, intense brainstorming, television-watching, computer
work, and monthly budgets out of your bedroom.
Especially avoid violent, suspenseful TV shows before bed. Instead,
surround yourself with influences that cultivate your peace of mind
while you fall asleep. Before bed, try diffusing Slumber Time Aroma Oil or lavender essential oil to relax and help induce sleep, sometimes within minutes.
To relax your neck and shoulders, your back and abdomen, you can do
some simple, light yoga postures. Soothing music, bedtime prayers, and
positive affirmations can also help you to move in the direction of
being more peaceful.
If your mind is active, recall your fondest memories, particularly of
childhood, where you had soothing, blissful, wonderful sleep, or when
you had an amazingly restful vacation. Favor those thoughts instead of
ones that cause you worry and anxiety.
What is your sleep I.Q.?
Even if you don’t have difficulty sleeping, you might not be getting
enough sleep at night. In assessing your sleep health, you also need to
look at how you feel during the day. If you answer “yes” to a majority
of these questions, it might be a cue that your stress levels are too
high, your life style needs adjustment, or you’re not sleeping enough.
- Do you experience mental or physical dullness?
- Do you have poor muscle tone?
- Do you experience a lack of spontaneity?
- Do you have a tendency to be bored or unhappy?
- Do you have tension, fear, or anxious feelings?
- Do you suffer from decreased cooperativeness, an inability to accept
constructive criticism, irritability, temper outbursts, lowered
attention span, impaired short-term memory, decreased sex drive,
physical complaints such as headache or backache, or do you generally
- Are you addicted to coffee, cigarettes, stimulants, or alcohol or drugs?
- Have you noticed a reduction in general health and joy in living?
Here are some traditional Ayurvedic Herbals to help with your stress levels, and some information about them:
Organic Stress Free Emotions – The herbs in this formulation support natural resistance to emotional
stress and fatigue. They promote self-confidence, positive thinking and feelings of fulfillment by balancing the sub-dosha of Pitta that governs emotional health (Sadhaka Pitta).
– A few sips of Organic Vata Tea will help your whirling mind settle
down and your body relax. Whether at work, at home, or on the road,
sweet soothing Vata Tea can help you stay calm and alert. Spices are
ingredients in many synergistic ayurvedic herbal formulations, and an
ayurvedic expert, when giving you advice, is as likely to recommend
specific spices to include in your diet as to suggest herbal supplements
for you to take.
- Licorice contributes the sweet taste, useful for pacifying Vata.
- Cardamom is considered an excellent digestive, especially beneficial for bloating and intestinal gas.
- Ginger is a zesty spice useful in aiding digestion, promoting appetite and helping with occasional stomach discomfort.
- In ayurveda, cinnamon is used to balance the digestion and can also help with occasional stomach discomfort.
– This product simultaneously calms the nervous system while supporting
mental acuity. It changes the automatic and immediate emotional
reaction you have to stress. It also nourishes all forms of movement,
including thought, speech and actions of the body and supports the
following mental activities: creativity, perception, consciousness and
self-realization. In addition, it supports the three types of mental
ability: learning, memory and recall (called dhi, dhriti, and smriti in
Worry Free Tea – The herbs in this tea help balance and calm your mind, emotions, brain and nerves.
Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus),
with Cabbage Rose, is a classic Ayurvedic formula for balanced
digestion, regular elimination (helping with occasional constipation as
nightly detoxification. It fulfills one of the simplest and most
important recommendations in Ayurveda: toning digestion. Balanced
digestion removes ama and increases ojas, the master biochemical of
connectivity with nature’s intelligence. Organic Digest Tone rejuvenates
the digestive tract; assists the body in absorbing nutrients from food;
promotes healthy circulation and includes capillary-supporting
flavonoids; works as a cardio tonic; and it helps cleanse the liver of
toxins and supports its efficient functioning. It is also rich in
– The herbs in this traditional formulation nourish the mind-body
connection by helping to remove toxins that make you feel dull or sad.
They also support the memory of bliss in your cells, and help balance
the hormones that govern emotions.
Stress Free Mind
– The herbs in this formulation support natural resistance to daily
mental stress and fatigue. This blend of whole herbal extracts, powders,
and minerals nourishes and supports the immune system, which is often
taxed by everyday mental stress. The herbs in this formulation support
feeling more composed and simultaneously alert. Bacopa, Dwarf Morning
Glory, Gotu Kola and Indian Tinospora all work to support learning,
retention and long-term memory. Pearl, Greater Galangal, Licorice,
Jatamansi and Ashwagandha support mental energy.
– The creative mind is calm, curious, imaginative and balanced. The
herbs in this formulation support mental creativity and flexibility,
making it easier to handle stress.
– This formulation contains the most potent Ayurvedic herbs for
supporting the mind even in stressful situations. They also support the
three types of Ayurvedic mental abilities: learning, retention and
recall (dhi, dhriti, and smriti); especially long-term retention and
recall skills. In addition, these herbs calm and relax the mind while
simultaneously helping concentration and focus.
Related Health Tips
- Establish a stable regular lifestyle routine
- Get plenty of good-quality sleep. If you experience difficulty
falling asleep, along with sleep-promoting lifestyle changes, consider
taking one of our sleep products mentioned in this article.
- Partake in calming activities such as gardening and leisurely walks.
- Reduce travel and avoid stressful situations as much as possible.
- Follow a dosha-pacifying diet. For Vata imbalance – a major
contributor to sleep imbalance – favor foods that are warm, heavier,
oily, sweet, sour and salty and reduce cold, dry, light, pungent, bitter
and astringent foods.
- Give yourself an Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) daily.
- Protect yourself from dry, cold and windy weather.
- It is best to not read or watch TV while eating.
- Go to bed before 10:00 p.m.
Photo credit: susivinh
Second photo credit: RelaxingMusic