5 million Americans suffer from insomnia, but even more people suffer from lack of sleep. Do not underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. People who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to suffer from emotional imbalances, stress and depression, diminished memory capacity and speech control, increased irritability, lowered concentration and an increase in muscle pain and physical tiredness.
Insomnia can present itself in two ways. Some people have difficulty or an inability to fall asleep. Others are unable to reach a deep state of sleep and are often easily awakened by noise or dreams.
In Western medicine, causes of insomnia include stress, depression, anxiety, irregular work schedule, drug or alcohol abuse and chronic pain. Many medications also have insomnia as a listed side effect.
In acupuncture theory, insomnia is separated according to each person’s unique body and combination of symptoms. Most of the sleep disturbances involve an imbalance in the heart system, although this is not always the case.
Heart and kidney disharmony includes symptoms of restlessness, being awakened easily and having difficulty falling back to sleep. You might have palpitations, irritability, dizziness, tinnitus, poor memory, back soreness and face flushing. You may also have a generally weak constitution and suffer from frequent chronic illnesses.
Heart and spleen disharmony is characterized by having a difficult time falling asleep, easily waking during the night with lots of dreams. Palpitations, poor memory, dizziness, fatigue, poor appetite, a pale complexion and a low-quality or imbalanced diet may also be on the list of things you experience.
Heart and gallbladder qi deficiency is distinguished by having a lot of dreams and easily waking up in fright. You might have a tendency to be a timid and afraid person. Also, you might experience palpitations, breathlessness and fatigue.
Liver Fire Flaring Upward is characterized by sleep that’s disturbed by very scary dreams or nightmares. You might also have irritability, thirst, desire to drink, headaches, red eyes, bitter taste in the mouth and constipation. There might be a lot of emotional stress going on in your life.
Phlegm Fire Disturbing the Mind includes restless sleep that has you tossing and turning a lot. You might also have irritability, dizziness, a feeling of heaviness in the head and oppression in the chest, nausea and poor appetite. A low-quality or imbalanced diet may also accompany these symptoms.
Whatever the diagnosis may be, acupuncture has been proven to be a safe and effective way to decrease the staggering effects of insomnia and lack of sleep. In fact, acupuncture is being sought out increasingly for insomnia, even by people who successfully achieve sleep when they use medication.
Two of the main concerns with medication are dependence on the medication and its side effects. A common complaint is that medicated sleep is not good quality sleep, and people do not wake up feeling refreshed. Artificial sleep may be better than none at all, but it is not as restorative as sleep that is induced and sustained by the body’s own natural cycles. Acupuncture, as always addressing the root cause of the problem, allows people to fall peacefully back in their own natural rhythm and get a great night’s sleep.
Besides receiving acupuncture, there are other ways to combat insomnia. You should maintain a routine to your sleep schedule. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. All electronics, including televisions and computers, should be taken out of the bedroom. It may also help to position the clock away from your bed. Caffeine, nicotine and sugar intake should be reduced or eliminated completely and heavy meals should be avoided before bedtime.
There are many people who do not realize the importance of a good night’s sleep. I had a patient who came in complaining of irritability and a fast temper. She had a high stress lifestyle, a difficult job situation and a very busy home life. She was only sleeping 4 to 5 hours per night. Although she could fall asleep very quickly, she would awaken several times throughout the night only to have difficulty falling back to sleep.
After her very first acupuncture treatment, her sleep improved by at least 50%. A few weeks later, she reported sleeping a full eight hours with no waking. She felt refreshed, alive and much more able to handle the stress in her life. Her insomnia was a thing of the past.
You should never allow any disease or disorder to have any control over your life. Insomnia shouldn’t decide when or for how long you can sleep. Acupuncture is a great way to lead you back to a place of balance and calm, giving you the power to lay insomnia to rest.