Chinese Medicine perspective on insomnia
Recently I was reading a personal development book which is about balance between Production and Production Capacity. Like a machine, if we over run our body’s without maintenance, eventually it will break down. The cost of repairing it will outweigh the cost of maintaining it. My train of thoughts leads me to think about how our body’s most natural restoration time is during our sleep.
Quality sleep is so vital because insomnia can affect our concentration and memory. Often we will become moody, angry and irritable. Patients who experience sleeping disorders often find it be vexing and frustrating. Therefore, it can be a problem which greatly decrease our productivity capacity. Keep reading and I will share some of my knowledge about insomnia from a Chinese medicine perspective.
Traditional Chinese Medicine on sleeping disorder:
Insomnia can be differentiated into various different patterns. Today we are going to discuss three common patterns I often seen in the clinic. The three common pattern are:
- Yin and Yang energy not communicating.
- Stomach disharmony
Yin and Yang energy not communicating
Traditional Chinese Medicine applies the five elements in nature and natural phenomena as equivalent to our body physiology. It consists of fire, water, metal, earth and wood. Especially for fire and water, it is particularly important to have healthy communication between them, which is the yin and yang of the body. In a healthy balanced state, our body’s fire and water interact with each other.
We believe warm yang should go downward and penetrate the deep ocean. Yin water vaporize and rise up, form clouds which shield the sun and moisten the air. It is similar to how rain is formed in nature.
It is very easy to disrupt the interaction between fire and water, it can be lifestyle, stress, over work or after a severe illness. Imagine the sun rays could not reach the water and could not vaporise the water. This is the same as our body’s warm yang energy, it cannot go downward. Yin and Yang are not dancing and interacting anymore. Without downward motion there would be no upward motion. Yin is not moving up. It is like this hot energy is stuck in the head; no cloud to shield the sun or the sun is still up at midnight and dusk never arrive which causing us vexation and insomnia.
Chinese believe that the sun is equivalent to our spirit in the body. When there is interruption of energy flow. Especially during night time, the spirit is still up and running, the mind will feel unsettle and would not be able to stay cool and calm.
Patients with this pathology pattern may not limited to experience only insomnia. They could also have symptoms like palpitation, feeling fearful, easily startle, anxiety and metal disturbance; frequent nightmares; feeling of hot head and cold feet.
Stomach and digestion Disharmony
Building on previous principles, if warm energy moves from top to bottom and cold energy moves upward. In Chinese medicine the stomach represents earth which is situated in the middle between the top and the bottom. It is like a pathway of yin and yang communication. It is like earth between the sun and ocean. Improper diet and over indulgence in unhealthy food will eventually damage our digestive system. Chinese believe that “dampness” will build up. Dampness is like soil which has too much water and impurity, it has a heavy turbid nature. Now we have a layer of turbidity blocking the communication between the fire and water, again yin and yang could not interact with each other due to blockage. Therefore digestion health could lead to unsettled spirit and cause insomnia.
Dampness is heavy and sluggish in nature, patients with this pattern are often accompanied by indigestion, reflux, a poking sensation in the stomach, lack of appetite, heavy arms and legs, sinus problem, gurgling stomach and first bit of stool is dry initially and loose stool after.
Taxation is due to prolonged expose to stress, over work, excessive sexual activity, aging and poor lifestyle which take a toll on our body. In this scenario, our mind is over worked for a long period of time. Like an engine running for a long period of time and all the coolant dries out. In natural phenomena, it is like the sun is burning hot and strong, it dries out the aquifer and water resource, there is no vapour and cloud in the air to shield the sun and cool the atmosphere. As a consequence the mind keeping on running during the time it supposed to be relax and stop working.
This pattern very often involve a wide range of symptoms like fatigue, frequent urination, shortness of breath, muscle aches, palpitation, night sweat…etc.
What can Chinese medicine offer?
Chinese Medicine is a possible choice to help tackle insomnia naturally, whereas most of the pharmaceutical products on the market have unwanted side effects. Chinese medicine treatments has its own advantage because it is a more gentle approach. It wouldn’t cause any drowsiness and slow down our cognitive function. It aims to change our body internal environment slowly, reconnecting the yin and yang. It gives our body some transition time and harmonizes in its own pace. The end result would be improve our sleeping quality and resolve other accompany symptoms at the same time.
Other insomnia pattern could be benefit from Chinese medicine are:
- Wake up at a regular time and regular interval each night
- Frequent nightmare
- Hot flash or menopausal symptoms which lead to insomnia
- Interrupted sleep due to frequent urination
- A hot and vexation feeling in the chest , tossing and turning due to heat
Sleeping Disorders can be very complexed
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture will help insomnia by treating the underlying pattern. It works amazing well if it is treating the right pattern as aforementioned. Keeping in mind, sleeping disorders can be complexed matter which involve other factors. Patients might require collaboration with other therapies.
Want to feel healthy again?
Book in for a Consultation at Empowered Health!