It’s another one of those nights. You’re tossing and turning, unable to clear your mind and drift off to sleep. Maybe it lasts an hour, maybe you’re up all night. Perhaps you wake early in the morning and can never quite fall back asleep.
We’ve all experienced sleep trouble at some point or another, but if this sounds all too familiar, it might be time to take a closer look at your sleep habits. Insomnia and restless sleep are not only frustrating to deal with, but can lead to mental and physical problems if left untreated.
Many people shy away from asking for help for their insomnia. Sleeping pills can be addictive and often come with a slew of side-effects and drowsiness. Sleep studies can be intensive or involved. Fortunately, acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a range of tools to help you conquer your sleep troubles in a natural, non-addictive, non-invasive way. Read on to learn how acupuncture might help you catch some zzz’s!
Chinese Medicine and Insomnia
As with all conditions and symptoms, Chinese medicine views insomnia within the big picture of the entire body. It is common for other issues such as stress, anxiety, overwork, medications, or other imbalances to impact the quality of our sleep. In other cases, a person’s constitution can be at the root of their sleeping problems. Here are a few common reasons you might struggle with insomnia.
Stress (along with anxiety and worry) is one of the most common reasons people develop problems sleeping. There are many patterns of imbalance in Chinese medicine that relate to stress, but they can all have an effect on our sleep. Along with treating the root of the problem, we will work on how to manage stress better and release unnecessary tension.
Heat can build up in the body just as it can in a machine. At night, we need to cool down and allow the cooler, more relaxed yin take over. If you have a hot constitution or have unbalanced heat in the body, this could leave you feeling wired, anxious, or restless at night even if you still feel fatigued. Heat can also lead to excessive dreaming or disturbed sleep.
In the framework of Chinese medicine, proper, restful sleep requires a healthy amount of yin and blood. These nourishing, calming resources in the body help us to retreat at night and drift into sleep. When we are running low on these, our bodies and minds find it difficult to relax. Overwork, stress, a history of illness, poor diet, childbearing, and several other factors can lead to a deficiency of yin and blood and therefore sleeplessness. To improve sleep, we need to boost the body and help recover these resources.
Pain is a common issue for many people – and one that often gets overlooked. We learn to live with our pain or ignore it. Often, these aches and pains come out at night to remind us where we need some extra help. If pain is keeping you up at night, it is time to get to the source of the problem and start the healing process.
Acupuncture can help improve sleep in several ways. The first (and most important) is that acupuncture brings the body into balance. For many people, insomnia is a result of something that has gone out of balance and needs a little help correcting. By treating the root of the problem, we not only improve the body’s overall health, but we allow for restful sleep to naturally follow.
Additionally, acupuncture helps to induce restful nights by stimulating melatonin production and calming the mind. After an acupuncture appointment, many patients report feeling rested and often have restful nights after they receive acupuncture. Over time, the body learns how to soothe itself and normal sleep habits resume.
Remedies for a Restful Night
Along with acupuncture treatments, try some at-home remedies to drift off peacefully.
Exercises like qi gong, tai chi, and yoga can be extremely helpful to combat insomnia. If you do not already have an exercise regimen, consider adding cardio to your routine early in the day. At night, wind-down with yin yoga poses like Legs-Up-The-Wall or a relaxed Reclined Spinal Twist.
Meditation is also a fantastic way to calm your mind and prepare the body for sleep. Focused breathing triggers a relaxation response and can help to rid the mind of worries. If you find that stress is a major culprit in your sleeping troubles, be sure to meditate before bed.
Setting a routine is crucial to improve sleep hygiene. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and start a rituals before bed to cue your brain that it’s time for rest. Put the screens away an hour before bed and spend that time reading, meditating, or practicing other forms of self-care.
It’s also important to maintain a healthy routine around mealtimes in order to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Eating meals too late at night can disturb sleep, causing indigestion, heartburn, and even excessive dreaming. Try to eat at least two hours before laying down for bed at night.
Everyone needs sleep – our moods, health, and productivity depend upon it! Over time, poor sleep quality can greatly impact the quality of your life. If you have been suffering from insomnia or restless sleep, get in touch to find out how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can put you back on track.