Insomnia and trouble sleeping affect many people throughout the world, sometimes just once or twice and sometimes chronically for long periods of time. Many people will turn to prescription or over the counter sleep aids to help them sleep and while this may work for the night, the quality of sleep may still be poor and underlying issue of why someone is having trouble sleeping may be going unaddressed. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is an effective alternative to using sleep aids for insomnia and trouble sleeping.
Chinese medicine always looks at people’s issues with an intention to find the root cause of the problem that is presenting itself in their life. A differential diagnosis is necessary to effectively treat a problem, to that not only will the issue, in this case poor sleep, be resolved, but the underlying cause can be addressed so that the person maintains a good quality of sleep. There may be many different reasons for a person to experience insomnia or poor sleep and each one has a different cause and is treated differently, making proper diagnosis essential for good results.
There are a few major different patterns that tend to express themselves in people experiencing poor sleep, some are from a bodily weakness or deficiency, some from overwork and stress, and some from dietary issues.
First of all, deficiency patterns in the body can cause the mind to wander at night, preventing sleep. The mind is said to be rooted in the blood and the heart, and when a person experiences a blood deficiency or yin deficiency, the mind has nowhere to go and will wander, keeping the person from sleeping. One type that often affects students, people with high mental usage jobs, and people prone to worry is when racing thoughts can keep you up at night, or you awake to a racing mind and have trouble sleeping. This is thought to be a deficiency of the Spleen qi and Heart blood. The spleen is the seat of the intellect and those who use over use their minds can become deficient, causing the mind to wander. Another deficient type occurs often with women going through menopause, often accompanied by night sweats and hot flashes. Here, the body is becoming yin deficient. Yin is the cooling and nourishing aspect of the body. As the yin normally surfaces at night, if there is a deficiency, the bodies warming and active yang aspect is unchecked and flares up, causing insomnia, sweating and feelings of heat.
Overwork and stress can also cause poor sleep. Stress and high emotions overwork the Liver, which is responsible for the smooth flow of qi, blood and emotions throughout the body. If the body is overworked, cannot process emotions, or under too much stress, either externally or internally generated, the Liver energy can rise up in the evening when it is supposed to be returning to its organ and replenishing, causing insomnia and poor sleep. Often these people will consistently wake between 1 and 3am, which is the time associated with the Liver organ. Often times, this pattern can combine with the Spleen Qi and Heart Blood deficiency pattern as well in overworked students and office workers.
Finally dietary issues can also cause insomnia. Eating too late in the evening, or eating heavy and greasy foods can also cause a disturbance of the flow of qi throughout the body and cause it to rise, disturbing the mind and causing insomnia. Correcting eating habits and watching ones diet can help solve these issues quickly.
Acupuncture works by balancing the pattern being expressed in the person, by either calming down the body, or strengthening its weakened parts. With acupuncture for sleep, empirical points known for effectively treating insomnia and poor sleep are combined with points that address the underlying issue. Herbal medicines can also be extremely effective to help with sleep and insomnia, an in much the same way, different formulas are used for the different patterns that cause someone to have trouble sleeping. Lifestyle changes and taking time to take care of our bodies and minds can also help us to return to a state of easy and restful sleep, which is essential for a healthy body and mind.
If you are in Aurora CO, Denver CO or any of the surrounding cities and are looking for acupuncture for sleep or insomnia or any other issue, please to do not hesitate to call or email me, I would love to speak with you!