Cure Insomnia with Music & Ayurveda

Insomnia is defined as the inability to have proper sleep. Symptomatically, it may present as the inability to initiate sleep, or the break in the sleep rhythm in the midnight and not able to restore sleep. Clinically, it may present as an only symptom or it can be caused by a separate issue such as depression or side effects from medication. Insomnia may be considered an acute due to short-term if it presents with a history of a month it can be chronic. Commonly referred to as sleeplessness, or lack of sleep, insomnia can lead to severe fatigue, anxiety, depression and lack of concentration. Insomnia is serious, although unlike other diseases it does not kill. But only a sleep deprived person knows how lonely and how terrible this state can be. The insomnia is now going to become as an epidemic in developed countries like America, European countries, South- East Asia and east Asia expressly.

Causes of short term Insomnia: Stress due to any mean, for example, job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, or moving; Illness; Emotional or physical discomfort; Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures hot or cold that interfere with sleep; Some medications for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure and asthma; Interferences in normal sleep schedule for example, jet leg or switching from a day to night shift. Certain stimulant herbs, as gensing, shilajit, tobacco, caffeine, etc may also cause temporary insomnia.
Causes of chronic insomnia: Stress, due to any cause; Anxiety and depression- everyday anxieties as well as severe anxiety depressive disorders may keep your mind too alert to fall asleep; Stimulants. Like antidepressants, anti-hypertensive drugs and corticosteroid medications, can interfere with sleep. Other medications like anti-obesity therapy, painkillers and other modern medicine; Change in the environment or work schedule; Travel or working a late or early shift can disrupt bodily formal rhythms, causing insomnia; Medical conditions that cause pain. These include arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathies, among other conditions; Behavioural insomnia may occur when someone worry excessively about not being able to sleep well and try too hard to fall asleep. Most people with this condition sleep better when they are away from their usual sleep environment or when they do not try to sleep, such as when they view TV or reading, or eating too much too late in the evening.
Other sleep-related disorders, such as sleep apnoea and restless legs syndrome also become more common with age, causing insomnia. Sleep problems may be a concern for children and teenagers as well. In addition to many of the same causes of insomnia as those of adults, some children and teenagers simply have trouble getting to sleep or resist a regular bedtime because their inherent the biological bodily clocks are delayed.
Treatment of Insomnia in traditional psychotherapy is suggested by cognitive therapy, auto suggestion, hypnosis and meditation therapy. These all become more effective when combined with music therapy.
Ayurvedic Approach to Insomnia: Ayurveda portrays that there are tripods of life 1- AHAAR the food, 2- NIDRA or sleep, and 3 – Bramhacharya-the principles of right living, and the skilful and healthy use of sex as well as keep away from of sex. Anidra is caused by and further aggravates the Vata dosha in the body. The ayurvedic treatment used successfully in mild to moderate insomnia cases includes palliative treatment, as- Ashwagandha (Withania somenifera), tagar(valerian root), brahmi (Bacopa m.), etc. In the Panchkarma therapy, to balance the vata dosha, Abhyanga/massage and Sweden are followed by Shirobasti, Shirodhara, Nasya karma therapy. In Yoga therapy, Pranayama, Meditation, Yoga Nidra is most effective. Prayers and meditation is also having great therapeutic efficacy for Insomnia.
Classical Music Therapy in Insomnia: Music is a universal language. It influences all levels of human existence. It is a medium for communication, which can be both a pleasant and healing experience. Modern science and medicine are now rediscovering the healing powers of music. Music therapy - the specialized use of music in treating persons with special needs in mental and physical health, rehabilitation and special education, is gaining ground. In the West it is now an accepted form of treatment even within orthodox medical practice. The researchers in west found that the effects were comparable to hypnotic medication in improving quality of sleep in depressed patients. Music therapy based on classical ragas is also being used or advised these days for the treatment of insomnia, migraine, chronic headache, hypertension and anxiety in west. Recent research from the University of Toronto suggests that even long term insomniacs can be healed by the playing of soothing music. Scientists studied the brain to see what types of tonal and rhythmic patterns create a meditative mood and slower brainwaves. They then tried to replicate these patterns with music.
How classical music helps to soothe the brain?
The key is to pick music that slows the mind though 50-60 beats per minute rather than the 120 plus beats per minute that club music or metal assaults the brain with. Classical music helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It even assists those who regularly wake up in the night to fall back asleep again quickly. Music can be listened to at a distance, so it functions more as white noise, or, if that's not effective, in earphones at close range for a depth of mental stimulation.
According to research in west, a wide range of classical music assists insomniacs to sleep. Handel's "Water Music," Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," Brahms "Lullaby," Mozart's "Baroque Music," Debussy's "Arabesque #1" and Strauss's "Waltzes" are among the most successful pieces used in the treatment of insomnia. However, J.S. Bach's "Cello Suites" or his "Goldberg Variations," the latter literally written for a nobleman who had difficulty sleeping, are perhaps the apex of serene and soporific melodies.
It is believed that music stimulates the pituitary gland, whose secretions affect the nervous system and the flow of blood. It is believed that for healing with music, it is necessary to vibrate the cells of the body, for it is through these vibrations that the diseased person's consciousness can be changed effectively to promote health. The release of calming neurotransmitters like Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin is also stimulated by music therapy. Even during the course of working, light music improves efficiency. Listening to music helps control negative aspects of our personalities like worry, bias and anger. In addition, it can help cure headache, abdominal pain and tension. Music therapy is one of the most effective ways of controlling emotions, blood pressure and restoring the functioning of the liver.
The Raga Research Centre in Chennai, India is currently making a comprehensive study of Indian ragas and evaluating their therapeutic potential with the help of musicians, doctors and psychiatrists. It is believed that classical Indian ragas can benefit a whole host of conditions ranging from insomnia, high and low blood pressure to schizophrenia and epilepsy.
Ayurveda and Music: Music is an age-old part of Ayurveda, the holistic science which promotes a happy and healthy lifestyle. From time immemorial, music has been a part of Indian culture. In the Vedas too, music has an important place. The 'Samveda' is full of music. The doshas like Vata, Pitta and Kapha can be controlled effectively by Music Therapy. Great composers of Indian classical music have attempted music therapy down the years. Legend has it that classical music maestro Thyagaraja brought a dead person back to life with his composition.
In a research trial using both Ayurvedic medicines and Music was conducted by authors on 20 patients. With the conservative ayurvedic medicines and therapies like Shiro-dhara, abhyanga and meditation therapy, the patients were subjected to Indian classical music therapy. The instruments chosen were primarily flute, santoor and sitar. The ragas which were found most beneficial were- Bageshri, Darbari, Kafi and Khamaj.
Music is capable of improving happiness, peace, health and concentration. It is however important to know the method and duration for which Music Therapy is to be administered. This knowledge can be obtained through regular experiments and experience. The first step, after having a scientific and open mind, of course, is the correct diagnosis of the disease and then the selection of the precise raga that will be helpful. Procedure, discipline and a systematic method will help achieve this goal.
1. Dr. Gurpreet Kaur is Principal, Degree College, Kartarpur, Jalandhar, and a guru in classical music dr.gurpreetkaur@live.com 2. Dr. Suneet Aurora is Ayurveda Physician & Psycho-Analyst at Sampoorna Kayakalp Ayurveda Clinic & Spa, Ludhiana drsuneet@hotmail.com