Early to Bed — for a Healthy Mind and Body

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, you are not alone. As many as 60 million Americans suffer from insomnia — and that number is growing every year.

According to Ayurveda, insomnia is most commonly caused by a disturbance in Vata dosha. Vata dosha is the principle concerned with movement in the body. When Vata is out of balance, your mind can be racing and your body can be so keyed up at bedtime that you are not able to fall asleep.

People with Vata disorders tend to keep irregular habits, including eating at different times of the day and going to bed at all hours — habits that can cause Vata dosha to become even more imbalanced.

Being out of tune with nature’s daily rhythms may actually be causing insomnia in millions around the world. With the invention of the electric light bulb, it suddenly became possible for many activities to take place after sunset. To re-attune yourself with nature’s rhythms, try going to bed at the same time every night, preferably with a bedtime of 10:00 or earlier.

According to Ayurveda, the many rhythms and cycles of the cosmos (such as the circadian rhythm, caused by the earth rotating on its axis every 24 hours, or the seasonal cycle of the earth revolving around the sun) have a counterpart in the human body.

Modern science is beginning to study this phenomenon. Research shows that many neurological and endocrine functions follow the 24-hour cycle. Our sleep-wakefulness cycle is one of those circadian rhythms. Science now knows that many of the hormones your body needs to repair itself are released while you sleep. Science tells us that between 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs. Remember that time: you’ll hear about it later.

Ayurveda has identified three “master cycles” that occur in your mind/body system — and in nature around us. You experience them in terms of the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Kapha cycle in the evening takes place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., after work is finished and the sun is setting. You naturally feel more relaxed and drowsy at this time, since your body is preparing to sleep. This is the influence of Kapha dosha, which by nature is slow and heavy.

If you go to bed during this Kapha cycle, before 10:00 p.m., sleep will come more easily and will have more of the slow, stable quality of Kapha dosha.

06-woman-sleeping.w710.h473.jpg

Modern research concurs that sleep gets lighter and lighter as dawn approaches. Our deepest slumber (called NREM sleep) occurs within 20 minutes of falling asleep and gets interrupted around 90 minutes later by a five-to-ten minute round of REM-type sleep. For the rest of the night, you alternate between the two types of sleep in 90-minute cycles, with your NREM sleep getting shorter and less deep and the lighter REM cycles getting longer.

Because so many people suffer from an aggravation of Vata, it can be difficult to stop activity and head to bed early. If you go to bed after 10:00 p.m., you are going to bed during the Pitta cycle, between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.  Pitta is the principle that governs transformations. At noon, when we are also in a Pitta cycle, the increased principle of transformation helps us to digest our lunch (which Ayurveda recommends should be our biggest meal of the day). In the evening the transformative properties of Pitta are meant be used to help repair the body while we sleep, so that we awake refreshed and renewed. If we are awake during this time, many experience a spurt of intellectual activity and find that this is the “perfect” time to catch up on work or personal projects. This is a misuse of the Pitta cycle and we are robbing our body of its chance to repair and restore itself. Once the mind becomes active during the Pitta cycle, it is difficult to turn off thoughts. Combined with a Vata imbalance, which can “fan the fires” of Pitta, you could easily find yourself up until the wee hours of the morning — and enjoying a midnight snack to boot.

What happens when we rob ourselves of our nightly self-repair? Science is finding a wide range of negative effects, from being more susceptible to colds and infections to increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s. Deep sleep apparently allows us to deep clean plaque from the brain.

While there are many other aspects of insomnia to consider, the first step anyone who is serious about conquering insomnia should consider is to create a regular schedule which includes being in bed before 10:00 at night.

A visit to an Ayurvedic expert will help you to more precisely pinpoint which imbalances are keeping you from a good night’s sleep.  They can prescribe diet, supplements and lifestyle changes that will support your efforts.

For more information on programs for insomnia, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://theraj.com

Can Ayurveda Help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a brain disorder affecting the parts of the brain controlling thought, memory and language. About 4.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and the number of cases are expected to quadruple by 2050. Ayurveda, the original health science of India, offers much needed knowledge on how to reverse aging trends, even in cases of brain deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Early detection provides a greater opportunity to delay or reverse the existing symptoms of aging disorders. Ayurveda, offers a comprehensive system of effective interventions.

A consultation with an Ayurvedic health expert using the ancient technique of Ayurvedic pulse assessment can help with early detection. Pulse assessment can help identify specific imbalances in the body which can predispose an individual to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. This individual diagnosis is a powerful tool for designing an individualized treatment program and home recommendations.

Factors Affecting Alzheimer’s

Drugs, alcohol, stress, the buildup of toxins and poor nutrition are all factors whose effects accumulate over time and contribute to the degeneration of our brain’s ability to function properly. While available drugs have been shown to be somewhat effective in reducing some aspects of cognitive decline, changes in diet and lifestyle remain the only proven means of affecting the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Don’t Let Your Brain “Dry Up”

The thousand year-old texts of Ayurveda indicate that with advancing age, the brain and body gradually become more agitated and dry. Alarik Arenander, Ph.D, a UCLA-trained neuroscientist with degrees in Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, and Neuroscience, notes that Alzheimer’s is often associated with marked shrinkage of the brain. “The ‘drying’ effect of Alzheimer’s”, says Arenander, “must be remedied by proper diet, digestion and routine. This is the specialty of Ayurveda.”

Ayurvedic experts can offer individualized recommendations to regain balance in the physiology and nourish the brain in an effort to counteract the brain’s natural “drying” influence and establish an optimum level of mental and physical function.

In addition, Ayurvedic treatments and massages help to increase lubrication and stability and sustain quality of functioning, thereby decreasing drying, agitation and distruption of body and mind. These treatments also remove accumulated toxins and impurities which are associated with the degeneration of optimal functioning of the mind and body.

Toxins linked to Alzeimer’s

A recent study published in JAMA Neurology found that patients with Alzheimer’s had four times as much blood levels of DDT as healthy people. While the findings are not conclusive, researchers believe the chemical increases the chance of Alzheimer’s and may be involved in the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which contribute to the death of brain cells. Even though DDT has been banned in the US since 1972, the average American still ingests small amounts of the toxic chemical every day.

It turns out that the ancient science of Ayurveda provides the only known means of removing this harmful chemical from the body.

Current mainline thinking is that the only way to eliminate DDT from the body is to let nature take its course. DDT’s half-life — the time it takes to naturally fall to half it’s original value — is 2 to 15 years. But a published research study conducted on the traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center in Fairfield, IA showed that 50% of DDE levels (DDE is the by-product of DDT found to be linked to Alzheimer’s) can be eliminated through a 5-day treatment program. To read more about the study visit http://theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

13LG-690x352.jpg

Ayurvedic Tips to Nourish Your Brain

  • Stay physically active: Recent studies suggest that exercise which raises your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. One study, conducted at the University of Chicago, looked at two groups of mice. One group was allowed to exercise and the other was not. The brains in the physically active mice had 50 to 80 percent less plaque than the brains of the sedentary mice. In addition, the exercising mice produced significantly more of an enzyme in the brain that prevents plaque.
  • Mental activity: stay mentally alert by reading, playing cards, crossword puzzles and writing.
  • Eat a wide variety of green vegetables and include milk products (only milk contains significant levels of B12 which is absolutely essential for proper nervous system function) in your diet. If you are feeling mentally weak and are experiencing memory loss, have your doctor check your vitamin B levels, especially vitamin B12
  • Include plenty of antioxidants in your diets. Free radicals and oxidative stress are major factors in premature aging. Include plenty of organic fruits and green vegetables in your diet.
  • Include high quality oils in your diet. It is good to sauté spices such as tumeric and black pepper when you use oils. Your brain is composed of over 50% fat. Nervous system tissue is most nourished by oils, especially ghee, or clarified butter. Organic ghee and olive oil are the best cooking oils. Tumeric and freshly ground black pepper have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which helps lubricate the brain. In India, where tumeric is used in great quantity, the rate of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases are very low.

The treatments and techniques of Ayurveda are based on age-old wisdom of how to maintain perfect balance in the physiology. This ancient wisdom sheds light on how to maintain and promote healthy, youthful brain functioning.

Learn more about Ayurvedic programs to optimize brain functioning at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com