For many people, the thought of a good night’s sleep may seem elusive.
Whether it is caused from stress, irregular sleeping habits, too much screen time, hormonal changes, etc, the consequences on our day-to-day lives are overwhelming.
What is insomnia?
At some point in time, most people suffer from insomnia. Insomnia occurs when one has problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or wake up during the night and can not go back to sleep. Usually there is daytime lethargy as a result of poor sleep habits, which can also lead to low mood.
Insomnia can last anywhere from a few weeks to being chronic.
How does Chinese Medicine view insomnia?
Chinese medicine believes that the heart houses the spirit in the human being. In order for a good night’s sleep, it is important to House the Spirit and put it to sleep at night. The Spirit or Shen in Chinese Medicine is housed in the Heart Organ system. Difficulties sleeping are seen as imbalances of the heart.
The Heart may be out of balance for one of the following reasons:
Heart Is Not Nourished
The Heart may not be nourished by yin and blood. A flourishing garden bed requires good nutrients, and oxygenation in order to grow and be fruitful. Consider eating fruits and vegetables which assist in building both yin and blood
Overstimulation and heat causing agitation of heart
Improper lifestyle choices, including wrong food choices, too much physical activity, drugs and alcohol, over mental stimulation and emotional trauma, cause heat to aggravate the heart. The heart in its thriving state abhors too much heat, and can not settle leading to insomnia.
If this is your case, then take the appropriate actions to reduce excess stimulants. Consider taking time to meditate which calms the Shen.
Constraint of the heart by qi, blood and phlegm
Long term negative emotional patterns, lack of qi and blood, not enough exercise, of excesses in toxins can cause qi, blood , and phlegm to stagnate. Just like a drainage pipe needs to be cleared every now and then, so too does the inner workings of the body.
Consider a good detox, some exercise or breath work to calm and relax the mind. A good diet is also essential, as is the ability to assimilate nutrition.
Here are some other things to do that may improve your quality of sleep:
- Avoid screen time before going to bed – blue light emitted from phones, and devices may disrupt the body’s serotonin levels.
- Avoid eating or drinking just prior to sleep – drinking before bed increases your chances of needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Eating prior to sleeping forces the digestive system into action, and may cause discomfort preventing you from proper sleep.
- Dim the lights in your house, and use lighting as close as possible to natural light (i.e. not fluorescent). The pineal gland needs to know it’s getting late and time to go to sleep. Way back in our ancestors times, there was no artificial lighting, and so the body naturally knew it was time for bed when the Sun went down.
- Cool the room temperature to roughly 18C.
- Encourage regular sleep time – establish a good biorhythm for the body by having regular waking and sleep times.
For further information on sleep speak to your health care professional to see if acupuncture or herbal medicine might be of assistance to you. Contact our Cronulla Acupuncture clinic