Insomnia: A Specific Guide for Dealing with Sleepless Nights

Insomnia: Latin for “No Sleep”

*The inability to fall asleep quickly

*Awakening shortly after falling asleep and being unable to resume sleeping (between 2&4 am is a common pitta problem)

*The inability to sleep soundly

*The inability to sleep at all

Transient insomnia:
Less than a week.
Caused by poor sleep environment, bad timing
External or temp changes
Noise, weather, stimulants
Eating too late
Recent emotional upsets: depression, stress

((sleep deprivation))

True insomnia:
More than a week.
Prolonged emotional upset
Improper diet

Affects 54% of US population
A vata problem
Sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is triggered= stress hormones

Can lead to memory problems, depression, irritability, heart disease, obesity, and automobile accidents

*Kidney energy weakness
(Causes low back ache, tiredness, fatigue, and a burst of energy at 11pm)

*Liver filters blood at night (1-3 am) if it is congested it struggles and leads to poor quality sleep

*To reach deep, restful sleep: spirit and heart must be calm and liver and spleen must work together to process nutrients
20121227-133646.jpgBy Tony Huynh

Do not rely on pills: your body will forget how to sleep on its own.
Improving you sleep hygiene and implementing yoga and meditation is more beneficial and the results are longer lasting over time.
Takes a few weeks.


*Almonds, cashews, spinach, banana
*Cherry juice is high in melatonin (good for mental fatigue and stress)
*Drink strong chamomile tea (3 or 4 tea bags)
*Valerian tea
*Melatonin, magnesium, & calcium
Vitamin C, B, and zinc
*An Ayurvedic herb called Ashwagandha

Dinner of warm, well-cooked veggies and hearty soup with bread and butter for dinner

Drink warm milk (or almond milk) with cardamom and nutmeg (after you heat the milk, stir in a spoonful of honey: never cook honey)

If you have acid reflux which keeps you up: drink licorice and fennel tea

this tea looks like it could do the job: Sacred Grove organic herbal peaceful sleep tea by yogishop

Caffeine only in the morning. Definitely no caffeine or alcohol after 5 if you are prone to insomnia.

Don’t eat heavy meal 4 hours before bed

Avoid spicy or fried food in the evening

Avoid meat, cheese, potatoes, or heavy desserts at dinner (clogs tissues which leads to snoring, apnea, stiffness, and morning lethargy)

During the day:
Get blood flowing 6am-10am is optimal for helping insomnia
Fun fact: Soccer is the best exercise for sleep health
Get out in the sun
An evening walk can clear your head and cool your body
Yoga at dusk is excellent

To sleep you need to:
Emphasize stability and balance
Relax vata
Balance kidney meridian
Calm the heart
Help liver and spleen

Good Yoga Routine:
*Active forward bends (burn off excess energy) forward bends massage the liver
*Leg exercises (divert blood to legs, rather than brain) (warrior one and two)
*Intense side stretch (tones kidneys and spleen and calms the brain)
*Legs up the wall (aids with spleen function)
*Progressive muscle relaxation.
*Shavasana 15 min

“Every time you exhale, it slows your heart beat and helps you calm down.” –roger cole (research scientist on physiology of sleep)


Develop positive thoughts about sleep.

During sleep your brain recharges and your cells repair themselves.

Sleep sanctuary:
*Bedroom should be just for sleeping
*Reduce all stimuli: no electrical appliances in bedroom
*65 degrees is optimal
*Limit your time in bed
*Heavy comforter
*Freshly made bed, favorite pajamas
*Eye mask and heavy curtains
*Have bed away from a window and against a wall
*Lavender sachet under pillow or lavender oil on pillow (lengthens sleep, deepens sleep, and refreshes)

20121227-135116.jpgNightCap Bath Bombs - Insomnia, Migraines, Calm, Relaxation by BeeSilkNaturals

Evening routine:
Turn off computer and stop working at least an hour before bed
Have lower lighting (darkness activates melatonin) starting an hour or two before bed
Avoid anything intense after 9 pm.
Quiet music, no lyrics

Bath with lavender oil and Epsom salts (heat activates neurons which make you sleepy) ((can also just soak your feet))
Massage oil into feet (This is an extremely effective way to settle the mind. Wiping the oil off with a cool cloth is said to have a calming effect on the sleep centers of the brain.)
Put on socks (warm feet help you sleep better)

Wash face, brush teeth (mentally prepare for sleeping)
Read fiction before bed (try this adorable book: The Wide-Awake Owl By Louis Slobodkin, or even better for anxiety, work on a jigsaw puzzle.

(If you have a rocking chair that can help a lot.)

Make to-do list and journal (get everything out of head): keep pad of paper by your bed

Go to bed before 10pm–earlier in winter (kapha time will help you sleep deeper and easier)

After 10 is pitta time: mental alertness. You will remember everything you need to do, and then get hungry, and then try to sleep on a full stomach and your body won’t be able to rest while it is digesting
Between 2 and 6 am is vata time: you will sleep lightly, restless–drifting in and out.

Meditate 10 min before bed
Focus on breathing
The Buddha recommended loving-kindness meditation


Note: If you still can’t sleep after 20 min and you have tried counting down from 300 in multiples of 3, go ahead and get up— read or write, do the dishes, do that jigsaw puzzle, do something relaxing till you get sleepy

20121227-134424.jpgcard by Joy Boardman. For sale on etsy. Click here to purchase.

*bonus points:
Have someone give you a gentle massage on your spine from neck, down

Also: acupressure!
Acupressure is particularly effective in the treatment of insomnia.

((Too relaxing. Can bring on contractions!!))

If you feel any discomfort in the pressure point, that means there is blocked energy. The tenderness will eventually disappear as you continue practicing acupressure.

The acupressure points we need here are the one that is in the first indentation right below your outer anklebone (called Calm Sleep)

And the acupressure point on the inside of the heel below your inner anklebone is called Joyful Sleep.
(both are between heel and ankle bones) Pressing these ankle points together by placing your thumb on one side and your fingertips on the other side of your ankle for at least three minutes using both your thumbs while taking deep breaths

((can relieve pain from the waist down, and enable your body to relax deeply for a good night’s sleep.))

Spirit Gate
Place your thumb on the inner wrist crease in line with the little finger. Stimulating Spirit Gate is said to increase melatonin production, the hormone that helps control sleep cycles. This point is also excellent for emotional issues, anxiety and worry.
Press down on the acupoint with your thumb, gradually increasing the pressure for 60 seconds. Do this on both right and left arms.


Inner Gate
This acupressure point is located at the inner wrist “hollow”, three finger widths down from the wrist, lining up with the little finger.
Apply medium pressure with your thumb for about a minute. You can also gently massage the area if desired. Now, switch arms and repeat.20121227-140516.jpg
print by TaoLight

Do you have any tricks or tips for insomnia that I left out? Leave them in the comments :)

Joy Boardman

Massage Therapist and Collage Art Therapist

Planet Joy: Otherworldly Massages for Women, Planet-Friendly Collages for Everyone

Find me here:

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