Shirodhara: why dripping oil onto your forehead could be the greatest answer to your sleep problems

By Dr. Puja Shah

Got sleep problems?

Like insomnia. Lack of sleep. Too much sleep. Struggling to fall asleep. Stress and anxiety. Or disrupted sleep caused by the shifting seasons.

If you need a solution, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’s not just more effective, but more pleasurable than the ancient Ayurvedic treatment known as Shirodhara.

“Shiro” means head. And “dhara” is the continuous flow of liquid, whether in the form of warm herbal oils, milk, or buttermilk, poured in a slow stream onto your forehead to help relax and nourish you, so you can drift off into amazing sleep every night.

I’ll never forget what my first Shirodhara felt like…

Prescribed as part of my Panchakarma detox, I must admit I started off slightly skeptical.

Would oil dripping onto my forehead actually feel as good as my practitioner kept insisting it would?

As it turns out, it was better than good. As the oil began dripping onto my forehead, it was as if every racing thought and worry melted away with it. Then, within minutes, I could sense every cell in my body enter a state of profound relaxation, mirroring the calmness I felt in my mind.

I was told that the steady flow of warm oil onto the forehead stimulates the pituitary gland, or “third-eye.”This is what makes Shirodhara one of the most divine therapies, and a gateway to your body’s intuitive knowledge. 

But the real gift of this treatment came later that night…

Because for the first time in a long time, I actually fell asleep without tossing and turning. I later learned this was the result of the session’s soothing effect on my hypothalamus, and its stimulation of vital points around my head.

The benefits continued to the next morning and all throughout the day, as I felt truly rested and alert, and able to show up as my best self with my family and at work.

After my first Shirodhara session, I made sure to book at least one session every couple of weeks – not only as a gift to myself, but to everyone around me. Because when we care for ourselves, we show up better for the people we love.

More than just a sleep aid

As a gateway to psychosomatic balance, Shirodhara gives you much more than just a good night’s sleep. I even noticed my meditation felt more clear and profound afterwards. It allowed me to deepen this relationship with myself.

And with regular treatments, it also helps to:

Ayurvedic practitioners often recommend Shirodhara after an Ayurvedic massage or Abhyanga, when your body is already relaxed and receptive – and I couldn’t agree more!

How to begin your Shirodhara treatments

Shirodhara requires a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner to set up and guide you through the process. Many holistic wellness spas also provide the service. After your first session, it’s recommended to continue with follow-up sessions once every week or two, or as often as necessary to keep you in an optimally balanced and relaxed state.

About Dr. Puja Shah, Editor-in-Chief of The Natural Law

Dr. Puja Shah is an award-winning author whose 93 year old grandmother swore by Ayurvedic remedies and practiced yoga into her last days. And so while her education includes 9 years of medical training as a dentist, 3 teaching qualifications in yoga, and dozens of courses in meditation, it’s no wonder that she always goes back to Ayurveda. Puja harnesses Ayurveda regularly with her children and husband Amish Shah, Founder of The Natural Law.

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