How Can Insomnia Be Cured with TCM?
04 Nov 2015
Insomnia can be defined as the inability to get a proper amount of sleep, difficulty in falling asleep or not being able to sleep at all at night. This can lead to several bodily issues including low energy, fatigue, inability to concentrate on things during the day and decreased mental alertness. There are many causes of insomnia like depression, poor sleep hygiene, jetlag, over consumption of coffee, undue stress and more.
In the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, insomnia is viewed as a disorder of the shen caused due to either a single or combination of different internal disharmonies. This disturbance forces the shen to become increasingly restless and gives rise to various sleeping problems. The most common conditions triggering insomnia are heart fire, liver fire, food stagnation, heart yin deficiency and qi deficiency. Liver fire is generally indicated by sighing, irritability, timidity, headaches, red eyes and red face. Heart fire usually has such associated symptoms as forgetfulness, headache and dizziness. If anomalies such as gastric discomfort, abdominal distension, loss of appetite or belching exist, then stomach or spleen disorders is the cause of insomnia. The signs of a weak spleen can also be sudden awakening from slumber and difficulty in falling back asleep.
There are quite a number of treatment methods in Traditional Chinese Medicine which can be used for treating insomnia. Specific acupuncture points possess high sedating qualities, like the ones on the ears and wrists that are known as “Spirit Gate” and also the Yintang, a point lying in the middle of the eyebrows. On stimulating these points with acupuncture needles, the brain can be made to produce natural opiates that would cause the patient to fall asleep frequently, and wake up feeling fresh and invigorated.
Besides administering an insomniac patient with acupuncture, a TCM practitioner can also prescribe certain sedative herbs. These herbs would improve the effectiveness of the treatment and work to ease the conspicuous mental symptoms. The common Chinese medicine herbs used for alleviating the symptoms associated with insomnia are suan zao ren, bai zi ren, ye jiao teng, yuan zhi, wu wei zi and fu xiao mai.
Certain lifestyle changes should also be incorporated by people suffering from the inability to fall asleep. When bedtime approaches, the urge to stay up should be avoided by switching off the lights and refraining from watching television. Caffeinated beverages and excessive sweet foods must not be consumed. The last meal of the day should be consumed 2-3 hours before going to bed.
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