What Causes Insomnia and How Can TCM Help?
We all love to sleep. But for many people, falling asleep can be frustratingly difficult. You might use white noise machines, count sheep, even take medications – and yet sleep remains elusive. TCM offers a different way to approach insomnia that not only makes you sleep better, but feel better for your waking hours as well.
Sleep, it comes as no surprise, is incredibly important. From a TCM perspective, there needs to be a natural balance of yin and yang energies in the body. Yang energy is associated with the day time, with brightness, activity, and heat. It’s seen as a more masculine energy, unlike yin, which is seen as female, and is associated with darkness, gentleness, and more docile traits. We use up yang energy during the day, while the yin energy takes over in the evenings. Getting a good night’s sleep restores the yin and yang balance in the body. We also need to sleep to make sure that the energy in our body that regulates each organ system is able to be replenished.
It is also important to have an ample amount of sleep when considering the chinese medicine’s organ clock where each organ system of the body has a two hour period. During this time, your body repairs itself and the energy that regulates each organ system is enhanced. Not getting proper deep sleep during these times will impact those organs energetically.
An imbalance in yin and yang energies can lead to insomnia, but there isn’t just one factor at play. Many things might be to blame, including poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, illness, or toxins in the body (including alcohol and nicotine). Stress and anxiety can also cause insomnia. At ORA, we’ll work with you to determine what’s happening – whether your insomnia is due to a yin or yang deficiency, a heart qi or energy stagnation, or other possible imbalances in the body.
Studies have shown, acupuncture is an effective treatment for insomnia. By using acupuncture, we balance yin and yang in each individual - calming the shen, cooling the heat, and anchoring the body. Receiving acupuncture treatments is effective; however, if you’re having a difficult time falling or staying asleep late at night, here are some acupressure points that can help:
Pressure points: we recommend massaging the Tai Yang points which are the temple points on the sides of your face. Gently put pressure there and rub the points.
Pressure points: we recommend DU 20 for massage 3x a day or apply one our Ear seeds on the Shen Men point for better sleep
Pressure points: Heart 7 calms the mind from overthinking and Spleen 9 helps drain the dampness that is caused by mental restlessness.
Pressure points: LIV 3 helps clear up accumulated stress that can cause temporal migraines or irritability.
Besides acupuncture, there’s a few other activities that you can do to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Breathing exercises can stimulate the production of endorphins and help calm down the mind, while meditative exercises – such as Tai Chi – can help manage stress. In addition to these exercises, there are other basic things that can easily be done – for instance, take a warm bath, or just soak your feet. In addition to feeling amazing, this spa-like experience also increases blood flow and regulates body temperature – and, while you’re at it, add some essential oils like lavender and sleep blends, which can work as an anxiety reliever. Finally, as much as you’re tempted to mindlessly scroll through Instagram before bed, it’s best to avoid any electronic devices before sleep, as they can mess with your circadian rhythm.
Next time you’re lying in bed, watching the numbers on the clock climb while you restlessly toss and turn, remember that there are many reasons for insomnia, and many ways to treat it. TCM offers a way that restores the harmony of the body’s energies, calms the mind, and boosts your overall health.