Insomnia (Latin for sleepless) is a term everyone uses when they’re having trouble sleeping. Whether it be trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, Chinese Medicine wisdom is now showing results in clinical trials. Insomnia increase our stress levels, which in turn predisposes us to poor sleep and completes a vicious cycle. Here we discuss the ways Traditional Chinese Medicine can help overcome insomnia.

Refreshing sleep is essential for us to function normally every day.

Without good quality sleep our concentration, memory, hand-eye coordination, pain tolerance and moods are affected negatively. These symptoms can increase our stress levels, which in turn predisposes us to poor sleep and completes a vicious cycle between sleep deprivation and stress.

Mood disorders like Depression are known to be linked to insomnia either as a cause or an effect. Good quality sleep is so important to normal physiological function, research now suggests early diagnosis & treatment can prevent the development of a mood disorder.

When your sleep is restful, the body’s natural restorative and recovery processes occur. This is why it is crucial to get a good night’s rest. A refreshing sleep can improve the tolerance of a chronic condition or resolve an acute condition and improve symptoms.

How Chinese Medicine views Insomnia

The paradigm of Chinese Medicine focuses on the Heart energy when addressing some Insomnias. Traditional Chinese Medical Classics that are thousands of years old, talk about the Shen (or Spirit) being housed in the Heart.

When the Heart energy is strong, the patient will feel joy, happiness and have restful, refreshing sleep.

When the Heart energy is strong, it is most active in the day and calm at night, the patient will feel joy, happiness and have restful, refreshing sleep. When there is disruption to the Heart energy through stress, agitation, anxiety they say the Shen becomes listless, flighty and scattered, creating hyperactivity of the mind at night.

“Sleep is a yin state and ruled by the Shen. If the Shen is quiet and stable, this leads to sleep. If the Shen is not quiet or not stable, it is hard to sleep.”

One Natural Solution to Insomnia

Chinese Herbal Medicine insomnia formulas consist of tranquiliser and calmative herbs that quieten the mind, calm the spirit and nourish the Heart energy such as Licorice, Zizyphus, Red Date (Jujube), Wheat & Oyster Shell.

Clinical studies have shown that Jujube & Wheat have calming actions similar to opium by attaching to the same receptor sites in the brain that receive sedative drugs such as opium without the addictive side effects.

Zizyphus has also been clinically noted to decrease stress reactions such as histamine responses and gastric ulcer formation.

Another Natural Solution to Insomnia

Using Acupuncture, there are some reports it has a 90% clinical success rate.

There are specific points that rebalance and regulate your body clock by giving feedback to the brain & nervous system to calm down. It is known to increase cerebral concentration of serotonin and acetylcholine and in clinical trials, this accounts for the efficacy of Acupuncture.

The longer the needles remain in, the more calming an effect it will have on a client. Acupuncture needles are usually left in between 10-20 min, so for an insomniac, a little longer is beneficial.

There are points with names such as An Mian (Peaceful Sleep) on the neck. Other points such as Pericardium 6 on the wrist and Govenor Vessel 20 on the top of the head are effective in inducing a good night’s sleep.

If you’re really tired, ask for help!

There are many natural and effective solutions to resolve your sleep disorders. Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of them that takes into account your individual case (because we’re not all the same, right?).

Using tongue diagnosis, pulse diagnosis and sorting through your signs and symptoms, TCM prescribes a customised combination of Acupoints or Chinese herbs to relieve the cause and symptoms simultaneously.

When it comes to Insomnia, TCM works with your body’s physiology, rather than sedating it “knocking you out” like some over the counter products do. TCM’s philosophy is focused on bringing you back into balance.

Katika Funnell – Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Medicine Practitioner
B. HSc.TCM(UTS), Cert.TCM (China) DRM Member ATMS

References:

Lin. Y. Acupuncture treatment for insomnia and acupuncture analgesia. Psychiatry Clin Neirosci. 1995

Bantick, G. Treating Mood Disorders with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sun Ten. 2005