Do you suffer from insomnia? If so, I’m really glad you are reading this today. It is estimated that nearly 40% of the adult population suffers from either chronic or occasional insomnia. Personally, I have struggled with insomnia all of my life and finding good strategies to work with it has been a core aspect of my wellness search.
Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling asleep, waking often during the night or waking too early. This disruption in our natural sleeping patterns can have a destructive impact on our overall quality of life, making work and other activities of daily life difficult or even impossible.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of treating insomnia and other sleep related issues. Like with all of this ancient medicine, it isn’t one size fits all. By asking a series of questions about how you sleep (or don’t, as the case may be), TCM looks at your personal patterns of sleep.
Some of the questions are:
Do you have difficulty falling asleep?
Does your mind race?
Do you wake in the middle of the night?
How often and is it easy to go back to sleep?
Do you wake feeling refreshed?
Each of these questions point to which organ systems are out of balance. By determining the root cause, we can then develop a treatment plan, which often includes acupuncture, herbs and dietary therapy.
In the blog, Eat Your Veggies, I talked about a couple patients who were experiencing difficulty sleeping after increasing the amount of raw vegetables they were eating. In both cases, the patients were having difficulty falling asleep because they couldn’t stop thinking and worrying. Overthinking, or ruminating, points us toward an imbalance in the Spleen organ system.
It is important to remember that organ systems in Chinese Medicine are complex. They include the physiological functions, personalities with likes and dislikes, have associated tastes such as bitter, sweet, and pungent. Each also holds an aspect of our spirit. The most famous spirit is “Shen”, the spirit of the heart. “Shen” is often translated as either spirit or consciousness, and it is often a factor in sleep disorders. When these complex systems get out of balance, their interaction with one another also suffers.
The goal of treatment is to address the imbalances and help your body remember its natural sleep rhythms. The longer and more severe the insomnia has been going on, the greater the imbalance and the longer it can take to really regulate the systems. For many people, they have found this works when all other strategies have failed.
I am eager to share what I have learned from my own experience and that of Chinese Medicine to help fellow suffers. Check out Facebook this week for more insomnia related information and helpful tips.