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Healing Stories - Sleep and Insomnia

Article by Dr. Chandan MC, on the transformative healing story of an Ananda guest with acute insomnia


Centred and composed, is how Dr.Chandan remembers this woman in her mid-sixties, on her first visit to Ananda. She said “I have no past history of diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, heart problems, hypothyroid or anything else that we might think of, my appetite is normal and bowel movement is good too…I am simply tired and would really like to be able to sleep. I literally haven’t slept for more than 5 years and am feeling helpless with discomfort and fatigue ”.


“Interestingly she was a disciplined individual so her inability to get herself to sleep was quite ironical. I approach cases of sleep disorder and insomnia with a special interest. Certain conditions intrigue you more as a doctor than others” says Dr.Chandan, a specialist of Ayurvedic Panchakarma and mental health at Ananda in the Himalayas.


Insomnia is the most common sleep problem worldwide. It can lead to many psychosomatic manifestations like fatigue, high blood pressure, lack of concentration and ultimately reduce productivity and badly hamper the quality of life. According to Ayurvedic texts, the multiple complaints experienced by this lady could involve the vitiation of all the three doshas (circulatory forces made of elemental constituents), i.e., Vata (air & space), Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (earth and water). Insomnia arises due to multiple factors which includes Upavasa (fasting), Vata vitiation (disturbance in the elemental constitution of air and space), Asukha Shayaa (an inappropriate bed) Atikrodha (uncontrollable experience of anger), Atibhaya (fearfulness) and Atichinta (worrisome thoughts).


Dr. Chandan reports, “I diagnosed the case with Anidra (insomnia), Kati Vedana (low back pain) and Dourbalya (weakness or lack of vitality). The guest’s primary concern was tiredness, poor lung capacity and breathlessness, and she constantly felt drained and fatigued accompanied by uneasy headaches in the centre of the head. For insomnia, I prescribed external treatments of Panchakarma like Nasya Karma (nasal drops with medicinal herbs and oils administered in specific quantities and time of the day), and Basti (medicated decoction enemas), the latter quite successfully addressing the aggravated Vata (air & space)."