acupuncture for insomnia
Many women suffer from symptoms of insomnia. Whether you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or cannot fall back to sleep after an unintended early awakening, acupuncture may offer the answer to a better night’s sleep!
As an acupuncturist, I assess my patients’ physical and emotional states through the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The answers to treating arising symptoms lie within each patient. The root cause of complaints, like insomnia, are discovered through a tongue and pulse diagnosis and a thorough patient intake with a physical exam. When I address the treatment protocol with insomnia, I look to restore harmony within the body and mind. In addition to acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese Massage), Herbal Medicine, and Qi Gong (Chinese Exercise) aid in the treatment’s positive impact. TCM places a necessary focus on a healthy lifestyle in the prevention of disease. Diet, exercise, and stress reduction are also key components of the process when striving to achieve a good night’s sleep!
I use my training in the Theory of the Five Elements as a basis for the diagnosis of insomnia. The five elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal are all qualities of nature that are in constant change. The sequence of each element and its interaction is the foundation of diagnosis for Chinese Medicine. Each element is correlated to physiological functions in the body and is related to a specific organ system. One example is the Element of Fire; its organ association is the heart. There are many other characteristics of this element such as the season of summer, the color red, the taste of bitter, and the emotion of joy. All of the elements and organ relationships have their own distinguishing qualities and a particular bodily function unique to Eastern Medicine. For example, the heart controls the vessels and houses the mind or Shen (Spirit). When the mind is agitated, we look for imbalances of the heart. Since all of the elements are interrelated, they can affect the process or function of others. Thus, treatment focuses on establishing balance in one or more of these organ systems.
When treating insomnia, it is common to address an emotional imbalance of the heart. This is because the spirit or Shen resides in the heart. Some causes of such an imbalance are heat, cold, damp, and phlegm. The heart is easily affected by excess heat in the body. When heat affects the heart, there is a feeling of mental restlessness or what we call a Shen disturbance, which commonly causes a disruption in sleep. I also see imbalances of the liver (Wood Element) with insomnia. The liver’s job is to ensure that Qi, or the energy life force of the body, flows smoothly. All emotions have an effect on Qi and therefore affect the function and health of the liver. The emotion associated with the liver is anger; it can present as irritation. Stress greatly affects the liver and causes irritability and agitation; this can cause sleep disturbances as well. These are just a few common patterns that I see with insomnia, and there are others as well.
My acupuncture treatment for insomnia is individualized and based on the symptoms that each patient is experiencing. Every organ has a defined mapping or meridian in the body. Along each meridian are points that promote a certain action. The acupuncture points chosen for treatment will restore balance to the organ(s) involved that are causing sleep disturbance.
In addition to acupuncture, Tui Na (Chinese Massage) and Qi Gong (Ancient Chinese Exercise) are excellent ways to provide relaxation and restore the body from everyday stress. Chinese Medicine also uses herbs and whole foods to further promote the change necessary to restore balance in the body. Incorporating a healthy diet, exercise, and a form of mediation all aid in lessening sleep disturbances and are easily accessible to everyone. Empower yourself today to create positive change in your life, and start by enjoying a better night’s sleep!