Indian women are highly ignorant of their sleep disorders, and the remedy starts at home

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Have there been times when you’ve gone to bed early only to toss and turn without falling asleep? Do you find yourself often staying up late past your planned bedtime and waking up groggy and tired the next morning?

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Women are more prone to insomnia than men, studies have found. One reason for this is that women undergo more shifts in hormonal balances, which can then disrupt sleep regulation. For many women sleep disruption can also be linked to mood disorders such as depression. Stress, too, plays a role in diminishing quality of sleep. Barring these, however, for many women it is the result of poor sleep hygiene. What may start off as a new interest in a hobby or form of entertainment may soon become a habit and a rhythm that we find very hard to change.

Poor sleep hygiene

Particularly with young adults, when long hours at the job get coupled with an interest in social activities, it is sleep that often gets sacrificed. In the course of my practice I so often see patients who tell me that they can’t fall asleep before 3 or 4 am. For many of them, it becomes a matter of pride or an unchangeable fact that they are awake so late into the night.

Often this lack of sleep hygiene begins at an early age, when parents struggle to teach their children to adhere to early bedtimes. If the habit of getting seven to eight hours of sleep, preferably beginning sometime before 11 pm, is not properly developed in childhood and adolescence, it can become an unhealthy pattern in adulthood.

The effects of unhealthy eating

One of the chief causes of poor sleep hygiene is unhealthy dietary habits. Eating heavy foods late in the night, in particular, can cause disturbed sleep, as such foods can leave one feeling gaseous and uncomfortable, sometimes even disturbing breathing patterns.

Another important cause of sleeplessness is consuming spicy or acidic foods at night, especially for those affected by acidity or acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when the valve between the stomach and the food pipe functions improperly, and stomach acid flows back into the food pipe, causing a burning sensation referred to as heartburn.

Alcohol is another culprit for disturbed sleep, though it may seem to put us to sleep at first glance. However, the quality of sleep obtained under the influence of alcohol is always poorer.

Traditional diets and remedies can help

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Traditional diets that incorporate light meals such as khichdi or Pongal as well as higher quantities of fruit and vegetables can significantly benefit sleep patterns. It’s also important that such evening meals are consumed earlier, at least two to three hours before the planned bedtime. Finally, Ayurvedic wisdom suggests that turmeric mixed with milk is a useful sleep aid. Turmeric is known to aid in preventing oxidative damage and sleep deprivation, curbing inflammation and potentially even reducing anxiety levels.

If applying the above health tips doesn’t yield in a positive, do remember to consult a medical professional to understand the root cause of your sleep disorders. It’s always safe to take such steps before the problem becomes chronic.


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