Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or both. Insomnia may be present If it takes 30 minutes or more to fall asleep. Insomnia is occuring if you are getting six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week over a month and feel unrested. Insomnia impacts on one’s health and daily living because of lack of energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating and lowering the function of the immune system. Insomnia can be short term or chronic due to various factors.
TCM approaches the condition from how well all organ systems are functioning, but particularly the heart, spleen & liver. Comprehensive questions are asked about sleep patterns, stressors, lifestyle habits such as caffeine intake, work hours and exercise. TCM focuses on the spirit or shen as being agitated or disturbed with the heart housing the shen.
Insomnia can be classified into two major types:
Deficient type: the shen is undernourished, such as having insufficient blood or qi. (ie light sleepers, digestive disorders, anxiety)
Excess type: the shen is irritated by pathogens, such as phelgm, fire, blood stagnation and dampness.(ie anger easily, difficulty falling asleep, overwork, headaches)
The acupuncturist will needle the points on the affected channels to bring back a harmony to each of the organs affected. An herbal formula may be prescribed to help regulate the sleep cycle and calm the spirit. Depending on how long the insomnia is occuring will determine the length of treatment needed.
Sharon McDermott, L.Ac.
Quote of the Month: When sleeping women wake, mountains move.-Chinese proverb