Insomnia Can Be Helped By Acupuncture

By Li Hua, L. Ac.

       Insomnia means sleeplessness. It has different patterns, such as, difficulty falling asleep at sleep time, early awakening, intermittent waking throughout the whole night, and even inability to sleep through the night. As age increases, sleeping hours decrease. In fact, it shows a natural rule as to how the brain nerve starts the growth, development, maturing and then ends with caducity. Babies generally need to sleep 13 to 15 hours per day. Youths usually sleep 8 or 9 hours a day. Adults basically sleep 8 hours every day. Seniors gradually reduce their sleep hours.

       Insomnia is also interpreted as a kind of lack of satisfaction for the sleep hours and sleep quality, which leads to life affliction and work function decay. For example, efficiency of doing job is slow, memory is poor, and the activities of thoughts and spirits are low. The function in societies may be crippled. No matter what the medical diagnosis is, it is important that sleep is satisfied. If it is not satisfied and also affects the work, study and life, it is considered insomnia.

       In clinic, the common types of insomnia are three: First is difficulty falling asleep. Normal people only take about 5 minutes to fall asleep. If it takes more than half hour to fall asleep, that may become a sleep problem. Second is easy to fall asleep, but early waking and unable to sleep again. Third is unable to sleep deeply. Sleep a lot, but still feel tired and restless after waking up in the morning. According to the length of sleeplessness, insomnia is divided as temporary insomnia, short-term insomnia and chronic insomnia.

       Temporary insomnia represents only one or a few nights sleeplessness occasionally. It may be caused by body clock changing, such as job schedule changing, time difference due to traveling (jet lag). Additionally, it may result from   environment changing, for instance, too hot or too noisy, or pillow and bed changing. It may also relate to health factors, for example, pains, cough, indigestion or mental (psychological) issue. If insomnia lasts between several days and a month, it belongs to short-term insomnia. If it persists more than a month, it is called chronic insomnia, which is generally caused by health problems.

       Insomnia, especially, chronic insomnia, may influence the body mentally and physically. Patients may feel brain fog, poor memory, forgetful, and inability think logically or consecutively. Insomnia may result from various reasons, such as, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, pains, breathing problems, indigestion, drugs, and nutritional imbalance.

       Traditional Chinese medicine can help insomnia in many natural ways which include acupuncture, TuiNa, Chinese herbs, diet, Tai Chi Qi Gong, etc. It believes that insomnia is caused by anxiety, overwork, congenital deficiency, indulgent sexual activity, prolonged illness, emotional depression, and irregular food intake. In a word, insomnia is related to dysfunction of the heart, spleen, liver and kidney. The main treatment methods are detoxing (cleansing) and toning. If the symptoms are sensitive red tongue, constipation, yellow urine, vexed and insomnia, the acupoints along the heart meridian should be selected with cleansing method. If the symptoms are hot temper, bloating, dizzy, and bitter taste mouth, the acupoints along the liver meridian should be selected with cleansing method. Traditional Chinese medicine thinks that eating more meats and dairy foods can form wetness, heat and mucus to cause insomnia. So the acupoints along the spleen and the liver meridians should be selected with cleansing method. If the symptoms are pale face, palpitation, insomnia, forgetfulness, the acupoints along the heart meridian should be selected with toning method. If the symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, and too tired to talk, the acupoints along the heart and the spleen meridians should be selected with toning method. If the symptoms are hot flash, night sweating, dry mouth, dry throat, constipation, and less urine, the acupoints along the kidney and heart meridians should be selected with toning method.

       Treatment is important as well as the life style. Use acupuncture to release stress, And regulate the nervous system to avoid insomnia. In the end of day, I suggest taking a walk instead of watching TV. I also suggest avoiding heavy and rich food, and coffee or tea in the evening. You may take hot a both, listen to soft music, or do some Yin exercise (quiet or calming exercise, such as, Tai Chi Qi Gong, Yoga or meditation) before going to bed. You may try painting your bedroom with a dark color and pick up dim lights. The last thing, I would remind you, is to have a comfortable pillow and mattress.