Ayurvedic Recipes for Managing Insomnia & Sleep Anxiety
Throughout the year each of the three Ayurvedic doshas—Vata, Pitta, Kapha—becomes more prominent in the environment. Late fall to early winter is known as Vata season in Ayurveda. This time of year shares many qualities that distinguish Vata: cold, dry, rough, mobile. Vata, which is made up of the elements air and space and is the most subtle of the three doshas (the others being pitta and kapha), is also the one that is most susceptible to the ups and downs of life. Vata's stability can be threatened by a variety of factors, including travel, changing weather, lack of sleep, disorganized scheduling, and excessive mental or sensory stimulation of any kind.
Vata imbalance at this time often presents itself in the form of poorer sleep quality, a general inability to fall asleep, as well as feelings of general anxiety that emanate from poor rest
Importantly, the use of spices is emphasized in Ayurvedic medicine as they work as both preventive and curative agents. They help prevent disease by keeping the body healthy and strong, while simultaneously helping it recover from illness or injury.
Some of the best loved spices and extracts for balancing Vata, and in turn alleviating sleep and anxiety issues, include:
1. Nutmeg: Nutmeg has long been used as a herbal sedative in Ayurvedic medicine. A warm glass of milk with a tiny amount of nutmeg added will help one unwind and get ready for a restful night's sleep. For an especially potent wellness elixir, you may also add some nutmeg to your golden milk.
2. Tulsi (Tulasi/ Holy Basil): Beloved in Ayurveda as a stress managing adaptogen, Tulsi as also shown efficacy in helping manage cortisol levels. Your mind and body may become overstimulated by all the stress you experience during the day, keeping you awake all night. In order to help you wake up naturally, cortisol levels surge every morning between six and eight in the morning. However, your body feels these spikes considerably earlier when you are under a lot of stress. Tulsi controls your body's cortisol levels to prevent you from waking up in the middle of the night.
3. Almond extract: Almonds are a great source of the sleep-inducing chemical- melatonin.About two hours before bedtime, melatonin levels increase and begin gradually causing fatigue and sleepiness.
4. Saffron: Within Ayurveda, consuming saffron milk at night is believed to increase the quality of your sleep. It increases the body’s natural melatonin production and ayurvedic doctors prescribe it to help manage insomnia, fatigue and sleeplessness.
Here are a few simple Ayurvedic bedtime recipes that can help you integrate these vata-balancing spices and extracts into your regimen.
1. Warm Almond Saffron Milk: Warm milk is a common home remedy for sleeplessness. Milk contains four sleep-promoting compounds: tryptophan, calcium, vitamin D, and melatonin.
1 cup milk of your choice
5-6 almonds (crushed in a pestle or grinded in a blender)
Few strands of saffron
Sugar to taste
- Start by heating your milk in a pan.
- Once slightly warm, add in the sugar, crushed almonds and saffron strands.
- Bring to a boil and take off the heat.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy it while warm.
2. Tulsi Cardamom Ginger Tea
Tulsi (fresh or dried holy basil)
3 cardamom pods
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 t. cinnamon powder
- Boil 2 cups of water to a boil and add cardamom, ginger and cinnamon
- Allow to simmer for 2 minutes,, then add 3-4 fresh tulsi leaves (or 1 tablespoon of dry tulsi)
- (Optional) Add full-fat cow milk to the decoction and continue to heat for another 5 minutes on a low simmer
- Strain, and serve
3. Saffron, Nutmeg Bedtime Tea
1/2 cup of full-fat cow’s milk or nut milk
1 cardamon pod (opened)
1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated or powdered)
small pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 to 1 Medjool date chopped (alternatively: use raisins, dried fig)
- In a small pan or kettle, bring to boil all ingredients except for saffron, then turn the heat to low and continue to let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the stove, and add in the saffron threads. Allow to steep for another for 5 minutes.
- Remove the cardamom pod and serve warm.
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