Tag Archives: Insomnia

Studies Validate Auricular Acupuncture’s Effectiveness In Treating Insomnia

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACA) published a study showing ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture to be quite effective in treating insomnia. The researchers in the study gathered data from six controlled randomized trials. All the trials were done in conducted in Hong Kong or mainland China. One was in English and five were in Chinese. 402 out of the 673 subjects were given auricular acupuncture therapy. Western drugs were given to the control group in four of the trials. One used fake or auricular acupuncture and the other used routine medical care.

The researchers observed that the subjects treated with auricular acupuncture experienced greater improvement compared to the people in the control groups. In addition, auricular acupuncture brought about better recovery from insomnia than diazepam. For feeling refreshed upon waking, for boosting sleep to 6 hours a night, and for remaining asleep during the night, auricular acupuncture was preferred over the control methods.

Diazepam initially sold under the label Valium. Doctors commonly used this drug to treat alcohol withdrawal, seizures, insomnia, and anxiety.

No conclusions were done about the efficacy of longstanding treatment of insomnia using auricular acupuncture due to the lack of follow-up information. Also, no conclusions were made about the safety of auricular acupuncture use for the treatment of insomnia again due to a lack of information on harmful effects.

A typical disorder marked by difficulty going to sleep and/or staying asleep, insomnia is often related with functional impairment while awake. Functional impairment associated with insomnia during the day includes occupational impairment, depression, irritability, and drowsiness.

Based on a study sponsored by the WHO or World Health Organization, 16 percent of subjects experienced problems falling asleep and 25 percent of subjects either woke up too early or had problems remaining asleep. Based on statistics gleaned from the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 60 million Americans suffering from insomnia affecting about 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women.

The Different TCM Patterns That Give Rise To Insomnia

Insomnia is lack of sleep and can be any of these sleeping issues: incapacity or trouble falling asleep, restless sleep, waking throughout the night, dream-disrupted sleep, restless sleep, and waking in the wee hours of morning and being unable to go back to sleep. If it recurs for at least two months, insomnia is deemed chronic. Throughout their lives, about a third of adults suffer from some sort of recurring or occasional sleep disturbance.

People with good health get good sleep. The body is in a state of imbalance if sleep is poor. Besides affecting your mood and energy level, frequent disturbed sleep also impacts your health as sleep helps reinforce the immune system. Sleep is as precious to your health as exercise and diet. Insomnia impacts both your body and mind and if you suffer from chronic insomnia, you are more at risk of developing anxiety disorders or depression more than others. Mental faculties related to decision-making and problem solving are both affected by lack of sleep. It may take longer to recuperate from illnesses and chronic diseases may increase if you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.

According to TCM or traditional Chinese medicine, insomnia is not a disease but a symptom. It classifies insomnia into two types: “transitory insomnia” and “true insomnia”. Transitory insomnia is usually brought about by temporary or external changes like a recent emotional distress, eating very late at night, stimulants such as coffee, changes in the weather, and outside noise. True insomnia is typically caused by a weak constitution due to prolonged illness, too much sexual activity, poor diet, and extended emotional stress and upset.

Sleep disruptions caused by itching, pain, or breathing problems such as asthma are not considered true insomnia. To enable a good night’s sleep, these conditions need to be treated.

In TCM, insomnia is related to shen (mind/spirit) being perturbed. Shen is a type of chi (vital energy) and is the most unstable, least significant, and “lightest” type of chi. Shen prefigures in the higher mental faculties and relates to consciousness’ spiritual aspects and the intellect. Because Shen is subtle and light, it therefore needs to be anchored by the blood and jing (the yin aspect of chi) lest it “floats away”. At night, the shen is housed by the heart during sleep and needs to be calm. If it is disturbed, insomnia and disrupted sleep will be experienced.

A unique interdependent connection exists between the shen and the Heart. The shen resides in the heart, which is especially true when you are asleep. Sleep, according to Chinese medicine, is yang going inward and enveloped by yin. Hence, insomnia is a defect in the shift of yang going into yin.

A qualified therapist/practitioner determines the patient’s TCM pattern via TCM diagnosis based on TCM medical theory. The therapist/practitioner performs an exhaustive diagnosis that can help identify the underlying root of the insomnia and address it appropriately. From time to time and to a certain extent, the patterns can overlap and other associated symptoms can also manifest. The exhibited patterns can be resolved using herbal or acupuncture treatment that, more often than not are utilized simultaneously. The following is a broad outline of the most common TCM patterns related to insomnia.

Deficient Spleen & Heart Blood

The spleen can be injured by eating raw/cold food; too much cold combined with irregular diet; worry, mental and physical exhaustion; and overwork. Blood is produced in the spleen and blood also furnishes nutrients to the heart. A weak spleen typically causes blood deficiency. This issue can also be brought on by a protracted illness or difficult pregnancy or difficult labor that saps the body of blood and energy. Insomnia of this form is marked by dream-disturbed sleep and problems falling asleep (particularly inability to turn off the mind). A spleen and heart blood deficient person can also manifest signs of a pale complexion, loss of appetite, and listlessness.

The aim of TCM treatment is to calm the shen and increase blood production by nourishing and strengthening the spleen and heart.

Phlegm Heat and Disharmony in the Abdomen

Food stagnation can be caused by poor eating habits (eating too fast, eating while angry or sad, eating very late at night) and food overindulgence/gluttony. Phlegm and dampness may arise due to too much consumption of foods that tend to create phlegm (alcohol and spicy, sweet, greasy, rich foods) or a weak spleen. Stomach blockage due to food (weak digestion) leads to phlegm heat that bothers the shen.

This pattern leads to symptoms like insomnia with possible acid reflux, abdominal fullness and distention, and bloating as well as waking in the early hours with problem going back to sleep and excessive dreaming.

People with this specific pattern can also struggle with discomfort/fullness of the abdomen and chest, heaviness in the head, dizziness, excess phlegm, and belching.

The plan of treatment in TCM is to calm shen, transform phlegm, dispel heat, balance abdomen, and alleviate food stagnation.

Deficient Gallbladder & Heart Chi

This pattern is typically the result of intense shock or shock within the womb. People suffering from this pattern often worry and are anxious. They also are very timid, are frightened easily and may have difficulty dealing with new situations coping with changes in their routine.

Insomnia of this form is caused by periodic bad dreams that cause frequent waking, often characterized as “waking with a start”. People with this type of insomnia are very often easily frightened.

TCm treatment aims to calm the mind and shen and relieve fearfulness by beefing up the chi.

Heat with Deficient Yin

Aging, lack of rest, too much sex, and overwork can exhaust the yin of the Kidney. If the Kidney yin is unable to balance Heart Fire, it can burn without control. Over time, the yin will literally be burned away from too much fire. A deficient yin and blood cannot adequately anchor the shen resulting in insomnia.

This form of insomnia is usually marked by night sweats and constant waking throughout the night due to feelings of heat. Heat with Deficient Yin insomnia is usually chronic. Symptoms related to this pattern include warm feet and hands, dry mouth, vertigo, dizziness, and irritability.

TCM plan of treatment is to calm the shen, dispel heat, and nourish the yin of the kidney, liver, and heart.

Stagnation of Liver Chi Causing Fire or Heat

Chi can stagnate due to factors like repressed emotions, emotional turbulence, resentment, anger, and frustration. Stagnated chi can lead to weak blood circulation which may result in inadequate supply of blood to the heart. This heart is then poorly nourished making it less able to house the shen.

Chi stagnation, over time, can produce heat that disturbs the shen and the heart. The heat makes it very difficult for shen to calm down.

Usual insomnia symptoms caused by this pattern are: insomnia exacerbated by stress, problems going to sleep, and waking time and time again from around two to four in the morning.

Additional symptoms may include: probable anxiety coupled with palpitations, sleep bruxism at night, neck and shoulder tension, headaches, moodiness, restlessness, irritability, and depression.

TCM plan of treatment focuses on calming the shen, eliminating heat, and relaxing liver chi.

TCM treatment often works well against insomnia. It may take weeks or months to wean off sleeping drugs if the person being treated is currently taking them.

In Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, researchers have recently conducted studies on people with problems sleeping. The people treated with a course of acupuncture therapies experienced relief of anxiety and their sleeping times extended by 1.4 hours, on average. Tests also showed a major rise in their body’s production of melatonin. This led the researchers to conclude acupuncture a valid form of treatment for people suffering from anxiety and insomnia and should be considered an option to pharmaceutical approaches.

In the treatment of insomnia adjunctive therapy can be extremely helpful. Meditation and/or relaxation practices are often indispensible in the calming of the mind. These practices produce effects that are cumulative and when a person attempts to go to sleep, the longer he/she works on easing the mind the easier it will be for him/her to go into a state of relaxation.

It is often necessary to make certain positive lifestyle changes especially if your insomnia is caused by severe stress associated with emotional, family, or work problems. The calming and soothing effect of acupuncture treatment coupled with relaxation practices can help address the effects of longstanding emotional turbulence and stress. Dietary modifications need to be done if certain dietary factors aid in the rise of insomnia and the need to avoid late night eating is also highly advised.

In curing insomnia the following good practices before bedtime are recommended:

• During the day, stay active and exercise. Each day, at least allocate twenty to thirty minutes of vigorous exercise, if possible, five to six hours (at least) before bedtime. Exercising can over stimulate your body if you do it very close to bedtime.

• When you have problem sleeping avoid “trying very hard” to fall asleep. The harder you try, the more awake you’ll become. A good way to fall asleep is to do an activity that is relaxing and quiet until you feel drowsy. You may then go to bed.

• It important to not be stimulated before going to bed. You can be over stimulated by watching TV or taking drugs, alcohol, or caffeine. You may find it difficult to fall asleep when you take nicotine or caffeine after lunchtime. While it may make you drowsy at first, alcohol can lead to frequent waking throughout the night and restless sleep. According to TCM, coffee and alcohol are extremely heating. The quality of your sleep can be negatively affected when you have internal heat that disturbs the liver and the heart.

• Keep a constant wake time and bedtime schedule.

• Take a light snack if you’re kept awake by hunger. Just right before bedtime, do not eat heavy meals.

• Relax. Listening to calming soft music or taking a warm bath can help promote sleep. You can also get a massage to help you relax. Meditation, yoga, qigong, or tai chi can be a very good way to calm both the body and mind.

You don’t need to suffer from the effects of insomnia as you can avail yourself of very safe and effective TCM treatments anytime.

Insomnia Cure With Acupuncture and Acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are two natural and alternative modes of treatment that can actually cure insomnia. These two forms of insomnia therapy are quite helpful in that they can provide your body with the much needed relief of pain and stress you may need to get to sleep faster. The very old Chinese healing tradition of acupuncture involves the use of small, extremely thin needles that are inserted into specific points in the body. Acupressure is a treatment similar to acupuncture but instead of needles, manual pressure is used to apply pressure on the acupoints to treat insomnia.

Through one or both these alternative forms of treatment, the underlying aim is to enable Qi, (pronounced chee) which is the life force of the body, to flow correctly all over the body. Acupuncturists and other Chinese medicine practitioners believe that when something ails the mind and body, a blockage has developed that impairs the natural flow of Qi. With the use of acupuncture or acupressure, the Qi is stimulated in the blocked area forcing Qi to break through and flow normally once more.

In order to take advantage of acupuncture this way, you will need the services of a licensed practitioner who has experience in treating insomnia. If you live in a large city, it will be easy to find a licensed practitioner in your area who can help you with your insomnia. Working with one will initially involve a meeting in which the acupuncturist will try to understand what type of treatment you need. Your acupuncturist will determine the underlying cause of your problem and treat it as well as the symptoms accordingly. This means prescribing herbs and identifying and treating the acupoints related to your underlying problem and symptoms.

Acupressure and acupuncture are both non-toxic and natural forms of treatment that help you get back to sleep. For insomnia sufferers who are considering getting these two types of treatment, it is important to seek out a licensed acupuncturist who has good experience in treating this condition. Curing insomnia will be only as effective as the professional who provides the treatment, more so when it comes to his/her level of experience in treating insomnia.

Getting Rid of Insomnia with Acupuncture Treatment

Insomnia is a state of health that makes it difficult for the sufferer to fall or stay asleep. This article defines insomnia further as poor quality of sleep with symptoms occurring at least thrice each week which can last a month or more.

Every person can experience insomnia. The fact is that this disorder is so widely experienced today and affects about 105 million to 140 million adult Americans each year. Insomnia tends to mostly affect women and the elderly more than any other segment of the population.

The women who are suffering from insomnia usually are the ones who have issues that are associated with their reproductive cycle. These can include menopause, pregnancy and menstrual cycles. One’s quality of sleep somehow degrades with age for a lot of people. One should also note that Insomnia can be a health problem in its own right, or can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition or disease.

Acute, short-term or untreated insomnia can be as short as one night or last for several nights. If left untreated, acute or short-term insomnia can become chronic or long-term. This can last for several months to decades.

Insomnia is marked by several symptoms including:

-Waking up not feeling refreshed or well-rested
-Problem getting back to sleep after waking up
-Waking up early
-Waking up throughout the night
-Sleeping lightly
-Difficulty falling asleep

Any one of these symptoms can wreak damage to a person’s emotional, mental and/or physical health. The mental and physical fatigue that usually comes with insomnia can impact a sufferer’s activities and performance during the day in a serious manner. The sufferer may experience tension headaches, poor memory and concentration, anxiety, irritability, fatigue and daytime drowsiness.

If insomnia is not resolved it can weaken a person’s state of health further leading to illnesses, complications and more health problems. Actually, recent studies demonstrate that people suffering from insomnia show overall poor health than people who get a good night’s sleep; moreover, insomniacs have a high rate of depression than people who are getting adequate sleep.

Doctors usually prescribe pharmaceutical drugs for their insomnia patients; the problem with this type of treatment is it really doesn’t treat the problem and usually causes unwanted and harmful side-effects to the user. A growing number of insomniacs are trying out acupuncture, a very effective and safe alternative type of treatment for people with sleep issues. It is a great way to get treated as it does not have the side effects related to the use of pharmaceuticals and other medications. Acupuncture is not habit forming and has a very high rate of success (90%) when it comes to treating insomnia.

Having its origins in Ancient China and practiced for thousands of years now, acupuncture today is used literally by tens of millions of people all over the world as a treatment for dozens of illnesses and pain. This modality involves the administration of extremely thin needles into certain points known as acupoints scattered throughout the body.

Exercise and relaxation activities can likewise aid in the resolution of insomnia. Passive activities such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation are all natural and healthy techniques that can help engender a more profound quality of sleep since they help lower stress that may be a major cause of sleeplessness.

Here are some helpful suggestions to help you develop and maintain healthy a sleeping habit:

-Do not worry about time or look at the clock if you happen to wake up during the night; just roll over and try to return to sleep
-Get out of bed and walk to another room until you become sleepy or tired enough to retire and fall asleep
-Avoid doing any strenuous exercises or stimulating activities like playing video games before going to bed
-Do not smoke a cigarette or drink alcohol when it’s near bedtime
-Do not drink any beverage containing caffeine or any kind of stimulant, particularly in the afternoon or evening hours
-Keep a comfortable, quiet and peaceful ambience that makes it easy for you to fall asleep (this can include a dimly lit room and/or lower mild temperatures, which makes you sleepy easily)
-Use the bed only for sex or sleep (no lounging, studying, reading, eating or TV)
-Set your alarm clock to help you wake up at the same time
-Do not go to bed until you feel tired or drowsy
-Do not nap or sleep during the day

Acupuncture combined with other natural modalities to help you fall asleep can be extremely effective in the battle against insomnia.

If you have insomnia, you always need to talk to your doctor first if you are considering getting acupuncture therapy for your condition. These days, more and more doctors are recommending and supporting natural forms of therapies like acupuncture to help their patients overcome insomnia in a much more effective and safer way.