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I had a sleeping problem since I was a small child.
By the time I was eight years old, I remember almost nightly raiding my father’s liquor cabinet, taking a swig of Scotch, and hitting the pillow.
It worked for years, and luckily, I didn’t become an alcoholic.
Sleeplessness was a nuisance until I became a teen; then, it became a genuine hindrance. Sports and studies were impossible, and I wanted to excel in both. Alcohol no longer worked, either due to my high tolerance, immunity, or both.
Sleeplessness had me wondering if I had problems I wasn’t aware of; maybe ghosts haunted me, causing me to doubt myself.
I either envied or disparaged those who slept well, envied them for their restful sleep, but disparaged them as clueless and insensitive, like a cow chewing its cud. My racing mind didn’t stop when I hit the pillow, but I wasn’t willing to trade it for an idle and listless mind.
A decade passed between my teens and 20s with little change regarding my sleeplessness or attitude toward it.
Then I met Trulshik Rinpoche in Nepal, a highly respected Tibetan master, and an event happened that made my self-doubt regarding sleep vanish.
One day I was making an offering to Rinpoche and customarily sat down for a cup of tea afterward. While Rinpoche’s attendants served tea, a Tibetan herbalist arrived at the monastery to treat the Master. I got up to leave, but was told that I could remain, which was pretty fortuitous, as I found out that the herbalist was there to treat Rinpoche’s sleep condition.
I learned that Rinpoche had lifelong sleep problems from Rinpoche himself as he candidly discussed them on subsequent visits.
For Rinpoche, sleeplessness did not seem bad per se. To him, it seemed more due to his taking on the burdens of his many disciples. But, because of his heavy teaching schedule, the physical inconvenience hampered him, and he wished to resolve it.
I began to see my attitude toward sleeplessness change largely due to understanding it through more enlightened eyes. I offered Rinpoche Western sleeping pills, but Rinpoche proved to be aware of their addicting nature and declined. Even though Rinpoche helped me see sleeplessness in a better light, still, it had its physical toll on me, and I resolved to not give up resolving my sleep issues.
I got lucky with Ashwagandha, an herb I had been taking daily for many years, but not in sufficient doses to address my sleeplessness. Ashwagandha is one of those staple miracle herbs that complement almost any herbal concoction and is often found in herbal remedies treating a wide assortment of ills.
It is a true miracle herb mainly used for strengthening the nervous system. I decided to take an amount about eight times my usual (about a quarter a teaspoon, usually) and took two heaping teaspoons. It worked, and I have been doing it ever since with no side effects.
Large doses of Ashwagandha work by relaxing the body to the point that even a most restless mind throws in the towel.
I began this process of mega doses of Ashwagandha in Nepal, where the tree grows and is sold in bulk in the plentiful herb shops throughout Kathmandu. There my dose was only double the recommended. But if you look at the label of Western packaged Ashwagandha, you will notice a third of a teaspoon per day as the recommended dosing. This works out to about 450 doses per pound. Given that I go through a pound in about three weeks, I am assuming they are using level teaspoon dosing and about a fifteenth of my dose.
I consulted an herbalist here in the United States about the matter of my dose, and he remarked that “all American herbal recommended dosages across the board are drastically inadequate,” and added additionally, “it is far worse for capsules which are useless.”
I have been using my megadose of Ashwagandha for almost 10 years now with no side effects.
On a more recent visit to Nepal, I talked to an herbalist and asked him if my dosages were too high. He said yes. But, according to him, it was only high because it is a tree root and hard to digest, going on to say that if I can digest it with no problem, there should be no inherent harm in taking a dose even greater than mine.
I must thank Rinpoche for changing my perception of my sleeplessness and Ashwagandha for finally curing my sleeplessness.
The combination of forming the right mental attitude toward sleeplessness, and the right herbs, particularly Ashwagandha in the right dose, brought the end of decades of sleep problems.
Of course, not everyone has the same sleep problems, but I believe many can benefit from a change of attitude toward their sleep condition and not seeing it as a negative and experimenting with Ashwagandha as a ticket worth trying for chronic sleeplessness.