Acupuncture Improves Sleep
Western Medicine has done many studies on the impact of sleep to our body's ability to function. A study done by scientists at the University of Chicago found those who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation develop serious health problems ranging from difficulty metabolizing food, diabetes, obesity, hormone imbalances to lowered immunity.
I didn't quite appreciate how important sleep was to my health until becoming a parent. While attending a parenting class, the instructor shared a sleep study that had been done to investigate the impact of interrupted sleep for new parents. The selected participants were college students and they were woken up every time they entered a deep sleep state. At the end of the 30-day study, all of the participants reported effects identified under clinical depression.
The benefit of quality sleep is probably the most ignored and underrated aspect of maintaining our lifestyle. Adequate sleep is needed to build and maintain Kidney yin and yang. This restoration and balance occurs when the mind is at complete rest. Kidney yang energy is restored in the hours before midnight which is when we experience the deepest type of sleep. During this time growth hormone is secreted and memory is integrated as new information from the hippocampus to the cortex.
Sleep is critical to repairing our body's immune system and nourishes our neurological functions. The early morning hours of sleep is the time when the mind is recharged, and the second stage of memory is further integrated and solidified in the cortex during rapid eye movement. This is when the yin energy has its chance to restore and build.
Acupuncture can be a very effective and safe way to treat sleep issues once you differentiate the cause. Chinese Medicine views sleep as the transition from yang energy (day) to yin energy (night). Insomnia is due to a breakdown of the connection of the the two.
The term insomnia covers both the ability of fall and remain asleep. The amount and quality of sleep depends on the state of the mind also known as the Shen in Chinese Medicine. There are several causes for poor sleep. Below are some I have have observed to be triggers:
- Overwork - Overworking over a period of time taxes the body's reserve of qi, yin, and yang. That is why we don't recover from poor sleep as we get older the same way we did in our youth. Repetitive stress puts our body on alert and can make it difficult for the body to transition to sleep. Acupuncture is very effective also taking the body out of sympathetic (fight or flight) into a parasympathetic state.
- Irregular Diet - Overeating or eating too much greasy or spicy food can lead to stagnation in the body resulting in insomnia. I also see a lot of cases where people drink wine before bed or with dinner. In particular red wine causes a dip in insulin levels in the early morning hours making it difficult for the body to stay in a deep sleep state.
- Worry - Worrying too much injures the Spleen, Lungs, and Heart. When the Spleen is taxed, it cannot produce enough blood which often leads to difficulty falling asleep.
- Anger - Experiencing too much anger, frustration, resentment, and irritation cause the qi to rise so it is not rooted in the Liver at night. This can lead to insomnia and dream-disturbed sleep.
- Childbirth - Losing large amounts of blood during childbirth can lead to the deficiency of blood leading to insomnia as well as dream-disturbed sleep.
- Hormone changes - Experiencing a change in hormones can result in a shift in the levels of blood, yin, and yang. This can show up through hot flashes, night sweats, and restless sleep.
- Heat - Suffering from the flu or recovering from an illness that was not fully healed may progress to having interior heat in the body leading to insomnia. This can also show as mental restlessness.
Very simply stated, Chinese Medicine interprets the pathology of insomnia as an emptiness or fullness within the body. Deficient conditions involve blood or yin. Full conditions usually involve a pathogenic factor such as heat or blood stagnation.
Below is a chart listing the meridians and their represented times. A future newsletter will talk about this in more detail.
- difficulty falling asleep indicates blood deficiency
- waking up frequently indicates yin deficiency
- meridian imbalance can be a cause when you wake up at the same time each night. Your body runs in cycles through the day with each meridian represented by a time of the day.
- excessive dreaming may be due to liver blood or yin deficient or heat
- frightening dreams that wake you up can be a deficiency of Gall Bladder and Heart
- restless dreams are often due to phlegm-heat
- usually due to phlegm affecting the Stomach channel
If you are suffering from poor sleep and would like to learn how acupuncture can improve your quality of life, call today or book online to make an appointment.
- December 2015 - Acupuncture Reduces Stress
- April 2015 - Why Athletes Should Use Acupuncture
- November 2014 - Enhance your Fertility with Acupuncture
- August 2014 - Acupuncture Can Support A Healthy Pregnancy
- June 2014 - Acupuncture Improves Sleep
- February 2014 - Acupuncture Treats Headaches
- November 2013 - Tuning Forks
- July 2013 - Fire Element and Cupping
- April 2013 - Chinese Medicine and the Liver
- November 2012 - Treating Pain through Acupuncture
- October 2012 - Chinese Medicine, Lung, and Large Intestine
- September 2012 - Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture
- February 2010 - Cupping
- March 2010 - Moxabustion (Moxa)