Sleep Disorders – natural remedies and yoga

Sleep Disorders – natural remedies and yoga

by Sanjay B

Naturopathy and yogic techniques work to improve the patient vital force respecting the intelligence of the natural healing process. Sleep disorders can be treated very effectively with these methods.

sleepSleep disorders are amongst the most common clinical problems encountered in medicine including psychiatry. Sleep disorders are mainly of 3 categories.

1. Primary.

2. Secondary – (Related to mental disorders)

3. Others – (Related to general Medical condition)

PRIMARY SLEEP DISORDERS : Primary sleep disorders are the result of an endogenous disturbance. Subdivision of Primary sleep disorders

1. Parasomnias – Characterised by abnormal behavior or psychological events in association with sleep, sleep stages or sleep – wake transitions. e.g., Somnambulisum (Sleep walking), Sleep terrors, sleep- Bruxism (teeth grining), sleep enuresis (bedwetting).

2. Dyssomnias – Characterised by abnormality in the amount, quality or timing of Sleep.

Dyssomnias include : Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Narcolepsy

Breathing related sleep disorder (sleep apnea)

Circadian sleep disorder :

This is due to an intrinsic defect in circadian pacemaker or its input from entraining Stimuli. This disorder includes

1. Jet lag Syndrome – excessive day time sleep

2. Shift work sleep disorder – those who work in shift basis

3. Delayed sleep phase syndrome – e.g. in exam students


According to the type of sleep disorders, the age group varies.

Categories of Parasomnias like Somnambulism, sleep Bruxism, sleep enuresis that occurs in the children between 5-6yrs and also m case of adolescent.

Condition like Insomnia occurs with increase of age especially

5% in persons aged 30-50 yrs

30% in persons aged 50 yrs or older

People who are elderly have a higher incidence of general medical condition and more likely to taking Medications that cause sleep disruption.


The major causes of sleep disorders may be divided into 3 groups.

1. Medical

2. Psychological

3. Environmental

Medical conditions :

  • Cardiac conditions like Ischemia & Congestive heart failure.
  • Neurological conditions like Stroke, Dementia, degenerative conditions, sleep apnea.
  • Endocrine conditions like Hyperthyroidism, Menopause, Menstrual cycle & pregnancy.
  • Pulmonary conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disorders, Asthma, Alveolar hypoventilation.
  • Gastro-intestinal conditions like Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorders.
  • Chronic alcoholism, drug abuse.
  • Medications implicated like decongestants, corticosteroids & bronchodilators.
  • Fever, pain & infection

Psychological conditions

  • Depression ( 40% of sleep dirsorders occurs due to this) Anxiety disorders.
  • Psychotropic Medications such as anti-depressants.

Environmental Problems :

  • Stressful or life-threating events (eg..bereavement).
  • Shift work
  • Changes in altitude.
  • Living near foul smelling areas Sleep deprivation may occur as a result of an overly warm sleeping environment, environment noise, or frequent intrusions (such as in ICU settings).


Short term effects :

Insufficient sleep can result in industrial and motor vehicle accidents, somatic changes, irritability decrements in day time work performance owing to fatigue or sleepiness, headache, nausea, GIT problems like poor appetite, constipation and diarrhoea, urinary system disruptions, alteration to menstrual cycle.

Long term effects :

Prolonged wakefulness may cause

1. Progressive Malfunction of the thought process.

2. Abnormal behavioral activities.

3. Person may become psychotic.

4. Person may become irritable. Chronic Insomnia is associated with an increased risk of depression and accompanying danger of suicide, anxiety, excess disability, reduced quality of life and increased use of health care resources.


Naturopathy is a system of medicine which is based on the inherent healing capacity of the individual. Methods of treatments are chosen to work with the patient’s vital force respecting the intelligence of the natural healing process.

Line of Management for the sleep disorders in Naturopathy and Yoga

  • Identifying the cause of the sleep disorders.
  • Proper counselling (behavioral therapy)
  • Treating the whole person, not only the disorder.


Diet plays a vital role in the treatment of insomnia. Research has shown that people with chronic insomnia almost have marked deficiencies of such key nutrients like B-complex, vitamin A, C and D and also minerals like Calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and Zinc. The sleep mechanism is unable to function efficiently unless each of these nutrients are present in adequate amount in the diet.

Diet should be rich in all these vitamins and minerals for insomnia patients. An ammo acid called “Tryptophan” is essential for inducing sleep. Sources of Tryptophan are barley, millet, groundnut, cashew nuts, and papaya.

Tryptophan ammo acid helps in the production of “serotonin” which helps to induce sleep. Supply of vitamin – A helps rejuvenating the tired nerves. Raw juices of wheat grass, durva grass, punar nava, cucumber, ash gourd or bottle gourd can be tried.

Basically diet should be rich in all fruits, green leafy vegetables, sprouts and vegetables in the form of green salad, fruit juices and boiled vegetables.

The following products are good for sleep disorders.

1. Aniseed- Tea made of this before bed time

2. Bottle gourd

3. Celery

4. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp fried powder of cumin seeds and pulp of npe banana will give excellent soothing effect to nervous system

5. Honey

6. Pepper

7. Oats

8. Rice bran and brown rice

Diet plan for sleep disorder :

Early Morning – 2 glass of water

6.30 A.M Yogic exercise with pranayama and relaxation technique.

7.30 A.M Bottle gourd/Orange juice (1 glass)

Breakfast – Green gram sprouts (1 glass) with grated coconuts

12.30 P.M – 1 cup brown rice with lettuce/other vegetable

4.30 P.M -Lettuce/Celery decoction

6.30 P.M – Yoga exercise

7.30 P.M -Steamed vegetables with one chappati

Bed time – Ani seed tea (one cup)


All kinds of stimulants like coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, preserved foods, junk foods, oily & fried food, spicy foods, saturated fats, Non-Veg foods, milk products, sweets, chilies and spices.


An application of water made in a definite manner with a definite temperature will help to produce certain derived effects. In case of certain sleep disorders like insomnia, cerebral congestion will be present. To relieve cerebral congestion, the following will help

Neutral douche to legs for 3-5 mins.

Neutral leg bath for 10-15 mins.

Hot foot & arm bath for 5-8 mins

To relieve irritability of cerebral cell, neutral bath at bed time for 10 mins is advisable In case of constipation, warm water enema should be given. When any digestive problem or constipation persists, cold or neutral hip bath as indicated is beneficial.

Other specific hydro therapy

Hot and Cold compress to head – relieves cerebral hyperemia by inducing sleep.

Warm affusion to spine at 95 to 98 °F,

Rubbing of limbs and spine.

Tepid sponging

Neutral Spinal spray / Spinal Bath for 8-10 minutes

Neutral Bath for 1 5 minutes – to produce sedative effect.

Alternate foot bath (hot – 3 minutes x cold – 1 minute, repeated 3 to 5 times) – produce derivative effect.


The use of mud is highly beneficial in the treatment of chronic insomnia patients. Mud therapy can be given in 2 ways – in the form of packs and full mud bath. Full mud bath is found to tone up the skin by improving the circulation and energizing the skin tissue. Over excited condition is very well brought under control by a full mud bath. At bed, mud packs to forehead and eyes induces sleep.


To over come vitamin – D deficiency it essential to have mild sun bath for 20 to 30 mins in the morning and evening.

A cold spinal bath and shower followed by sun bath also give instant result.


Massage is one of the oldest, simplest form of therapy in order to achieve benefits like nerve stimulation, increase in blood circulation, drainage of lymphatic, relaxation and sedation.

The relaxation that massage induces in the recipient is often followed by a deep and uninterrupted sleep. Promoting sleep in a natural way reduces the need of medication.

Use of essential oils like lavender oil is found to increase alpha brain- wave activity, which is a indication of a restful mental state.

The following procedures are to be adopted while doing massage.

1. Before sleeping massage should be done.

2. Head, neck and spine massage will be extremely useful.

3. Downward rubbing to extremities.

4. Gentle vibration techniques also will be useful.

Massage can stimulate or calm the nervous system by applying suitable technique depending upon what is required and thus help in reducing fatigue leaving the receiver with a feeling of replenished energy. Massage has the potential to restore the individual physically, mentally and spiritually.


Yogic techniques increase the sensitivity to bodily movements and cellular changes. It improves

Circulatory system

Digestive system

Renal system

Respiratory system

Nervous system

Yoga by means of asanas, pranayama and meditation helps to induce sleep and relaxation


Pavanamukthasana (part-1)


Sarvangasana I





They regulate the functioning of adrenal glands and secretes serotonin. They will give calming and cooling effects to the nervous system


It is generally defined as breath control. By practicing the following pranayama one can over come insomnia

Bhramari pranayama

Ujjayi pranayama



Nadi suddhi pranayama


(IRT) Instant relaxation technique

(QRT) Quick relaxation technique

(DRT) Deep relaxation technique

1. Instant Relaxation Technique [IRT] – IRT, it takes about 2 minutes to do. 1 procedure is : Lie on your back, legs together, hands together, close your eyes. To start with inhale and tighten your toes, feet, calves, knee caps, clench your thighs, hips. Exhale by pulling your abdomen in. Inhale by expanding your chest tightening your shoulders, arms and hands completely. Go on tightening your body about 3 sec to 1 minute, then release as you exhale. Spread your legs, arms. Let your body relax. Practice it once more for another 1 minute.

2. Quick Relaxation Technique [QRT]: QRT takes about 5 minutes to do. Lie down on your back. Beware of your body lying on the floor. Feel the abdomen rise and fall as you breathe and note how the movement becomes regular and slow as you observe it. Also, feel the flow of air from your nose to your lung. Do not breathe forcefully. As you go on observing your breathe and also the movement of your abdomen, feel yourself relax and body become light and energetic. Enjoy the deep relaxation of exhaling and inhaling and energize yourself.

3. Deep Relaxation Techinque [DRT]: DRT takes about 10 to 20 minutes. An yoga expert or recorded cassette is necessary to do this technique. Lie on you back, legs apart, hands apart, head in a comfortable position, close your eyes gently. Follow the instruction and start relaxing from your toenails. By the time you are reaching your buttocks, deeply inhale and chant “AH”, feeling the vibrations in your abdomen. By the time you are reaching the shoulders from the back, deeply inhale and chant “OO”, feeling the vibrations in your chest. By the time you are reaching the forehead, scalp from the abdomen. Inhale deeply and hum “MM”, feeling the vibration in your throat and spread through your head. Now relax your entire body.


Research news on sleep disorders :

  • Aerobic Exercise Relieves InsomniaThe millions of middle-aged and older adults who suffer from insomnia have a new drug-free prescription for a more restful night’s sleep. Regular aerobic exercise improves the quality of sleep, mood and vitality, according to a small but significant new study from Northwestern Medicine.

Related Posts