Insomnia is a huge problem in our society. Every week I see patients that are struggling with it to certain degrees. I went through a period of time where if I got an hour of sleep a night, I was doing well. There are a lot of reasons that people are not sleeping. It’s usually a mix of emotional/psychological and physical issues.
Chinese medicine is based on the theory of yin and yang . Yin is the substance, the feminine aspect, the moisturizing and nourishing part. Yang is the fire, the movement, the masculine aspect. Yin nourishes yang and yang moves yin. When your yin is deficient, you have trouble staying asleep. You may sleep really lightly and wake up frequently. You may get hot at night and even have hot flashes or night sweats.
Another main aspect of Chinese medicine is qi. Qi is the energy or life force in our bodies. Some other belief systems call in prana. When your qi is deficient you may have trouble getting to sleep. You might start overthinking and worrying and find yourself struggling to get to sleep. You may also feel tired during the day and just overall lacking in energy.
Acupuncture can help with both of these problems. I see it all the the time. It is also important to try some other lifestyle tips to increase your chances of getting the hours and quality of sleep that your body needs. Not getting enough sleep is linked to all sorts of problems like weight gain, trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other problems. Here are some things that might help:
- Turn off all computer, IPAD, and phone screens a couple of hours before trying to go to bed at night. There have been studies that they can contribute to sleep issues.
- Take a nice, warm bath before going to bed or soak your feet in water.
- Meditate, pray or do a mindfulness practice before going to sleep. These types of practices have been shown to help with sleep and general stress levels. If you haven’t tried before, an easy way to start is to try to simply focus on your breath for a few minutes and breathe slowly in and out when you first lay down in bed at night. I really like the Insight App on my phone. It has both a timer for meditation and a bunch of great guided meditations. I especially like the ones by Tara Brach.
- Make sure that you are eating protein at breakfast. What you eat all day has an impact on your sleep and everything else in your life.
- Exercise to get your qi moving and to tire yourself out! Try for at least 30 minutes of cardio with some additional yoga or stretching.
- Spend some time in nature every day. Too much time inside, under artificial lights can really mess up your internal clock. Help to reset it!
- Take Chill Out by Oriental Herb Company. It is a great company! They batch test all their herbs for heavy metals and they are also GMO free. It helps you to be able to rest at night and be extra creative during the day. You can get them at my office or order directly at www.ohco.com.
- Use essential oils. You can either diffuse them next to your bed or you can use them topically. I diffuse Cedarwood and a special sleep blend every night. It has made a huge difference in my sleep. Some other oils to try are lavender, bergamot, Frankincense, Vetiver and Balance. There are only a few brands I ever think of using since most are not pure and only the purest oils are truly medicinal. If you are interested in finding out more about the best brands for you to use, please contact me directly.
I hope some of these tricks help you get the sleep you need! These will all help, to differing degrees, to balance out your yin, yang, and qi. Most importantly, try not to freak out. If you wake up and stress yourself out about being up it will be a lot harder to get back to sleep but if you take it in stride, try to do a little meditation or even read a little, you will be much better off.