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Menopause and Insomnia:
The Ayurvedic Perspective

By  Jean Clark

From the ayurvedic perspective, discomfort during menopause is linked to vata and pitta dosha aggravation, so it should not come as a surprise that many menopausal and perimenopausal women experience sleep imbalances related to these two doshas. They may have difficulty falling asleep (a vata imbalance), or not be able to sleep undisturbed through the night (a pitta imbalance). Hot flashes, body temperature imbalances, and anxiety can exacerbate sleep problems.

A diet and lifestyle that is vata and pitta pacifying can help iron out related sleep problems as well. Get your physiology acclimated to a healthy and regular sleep-wake cycle by rising around 6 a.m. every day and going to bed by 10.00 p.m. If you stay awake much past 10.00 p.m., it is likely that the quality of sleep you do get is not as deep or restful. Eat three regular meals a day, at around the same times each day, with the heaviest meal of the day being lunch around noon. Avoid foods that are too pungent or spicy, especially in the evening. Keeping vata and pitta doshas balanced will help alleviate other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, thus helping you get a good, uninterrupted night's sleep.

Here are some suggestions from Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra, Director of Research and Product Development at Maharishi Ayurveda, specifically designed to improve the quality of your sleep:

1) Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, especially after noon. Even though alcohol helps some persons fall asleep, your sleep is likely to be interrupted during the night.

2) As evening draws near, make a conscious effort to slow down and relax, helping your body prepare for bedtime.

3) Favor calming activities in the late evening-do not watch highly stimulating or shocking entertainment, and do not work all the way until bedtime.

4) Do not sleep in the daytime; stay physically and mentally active.

5) Exercise moderately each morning.

6) Keep your bedroom dark and cool, letting in fresh air when possible.

7) Sleep on cool, comfortable linens and wear cool, loose clothes to bed-cotton is recommended.

8) Play a soothing Gandharva Veda melody or listen to the Sama Veda before bed.

9) Practice the Transcendental Meditation(r) technique for 20 minutes each morning and evening to help remove the effects of day-to-day physical, mental and emotional stress.

10) Eat a light dinner, about three hours before bed.

11) Drink a cup of warm milk with a pinch of cardamom or a spoonful of Rose Petal Preserve before bed.

12) Massage your hands and feet, and lower arms and legs, lightly with the Rejuvenation Massage Oil for Women. The oil absorbs easily and will not stain your bedclothes.

13) A warm bath or shower before bed can be wonderfully relaxing.

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