How TCM can help dealing with insomnia
Sleep is important for our health and anyone who experiences a lack of sleep suffers from negative consequences during the day, e.g. tiredness, reduced alertness, compromised immune function, and tends to sleep longer – if possible - the following night.
In TCM theory, insomnia is closely related to imbalance between Yin and Yang. According to the 2000 year old Bible of TCM , the “Huang Di Nei Jing”, our Protective Qi runs along the Yang meridian during day time, keeping us awake. During night time, it runs along the Yin meridian and keeps us asleep. A smooth transitional process from Yang to Yin meridian is the key to falling asleep and it depends on the state of Yin & Yang. Excessive Yang or deficiency in Yin, alone or together, are the causes of insomnia.
The reasons for excessive Yang may be:
- Anger and anxiety which create Heart and Liver Fire.
- Depression and overthinking which inhabits the flow of Liver Qi, resulting in a stagnation. If prolonged, the stagnated Qi turns into fire.
- Overeating, over-consumption of greasy food or spicy food or alcohol which create heat dampness in the body. If prolonged, it turns into ‘heat phlegm’ and eventually ‘phlegm fire’.
- In Spring or Summer when the Yang in the nature is in an uplifting mode, Yang in the body can also be affected – since the body is under the influence of the universe.
The reasons for a Yin deficiency may be:
- Overwork or growing to older age which exhausts the Kidney Yin
- Overthinking which exhausts the Spleen’s Yin
- Use of sight for prolonged time without break, which exhausts the Liver’s Yin
TCM doctors use herbal medications to reduce Yang and tonify Yin. Cool-natured and heavy-weighted medicines are always used to bring down the excessive Yang, while sweet & sour-tasted medicines are used to tonify the Yin. Acupuncture is also an effective treatment for insomnia. The needles open up the channels and regulate the Qi flow, balancing the Yin and Yang of all organs. Certain points will be selected according to the doctor’s diagnosis which probably vary among individuals, but there are a few acupoints that are particularly useful for insomnia of all kinds, such as Nei Guan（内关）, Shenmen （神门）and YongQuan（涌泉）. One can do self acupressure on these points before going to sleep.
Avoid creating too much Yang or depleting Yin by changing lifestyle and paying attention to diet is also encouraged. Food such as lotus seeds, dried lilies and chamomile with honey also helps to calm the ‘shen’ (spirit).
If you’ve been suffering from difficulties sleeping or insomnia, get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with Catherine and get some relief! Catherine is specialized in treating internal medicine disorders as well as headache, tinnitus, dizziness, insomnia and skin diseases. She offers consultations in our Century Park Clinic – Pudong.