When you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both (more often than not)
What Causes Insomnia?
The causes of insomnia are as varied as the people who have it, but I think of them in three categories:
Emotions by far are the most common culprit. Who hasn't felt stress, anxiety, or depression at some point in their lives? Additionally, trauma, grief, personality disorders, anger and chronic worry all upset our bodies' natural ability to shut down at night in order to recover from the demands of the day.
Physical illnesses such as allergies, asthma, acid reflux, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, prostatitis, Parkinson's and chronic pain also interrupt our ability to sleep long enough to sink into REM cycle, that part of sleep that restores and rejuvenates.
Things we put in our mouths include certain medications and supplements, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Even simply eating too late can disrupt our bodies' ability to rest and digest.
Why Sleep is Important
Nighttime is when we recharge our batteries. It's when the body heals damage from the previous day, grows muscle, repairs tissues and synthesizes hormones. It is essential in any healing process, from cancer to overthinking, and without it we are unable to rejuvenate. In Chinese medicine we learn that there is a certain amount of Qi (vital energy) inherent in our DNA that more or less predetermines how long we will live, but there is also the day-to-day Qi that we cultivate through mindfulness, exercise and healthy eating habits that supplements Ancestral Qi, reduces chances of disease, and improves our quality of life.
How Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Can Help
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has evolved over literally thousands of years, and in that time, it has emerged that our bodies tend to malfunction in patterns. Your practitioner will determine what pattern you are personally experiencing and then provide acupuncture and herbal remedies to rectify any imbalances. For example, if you tend to lie in bed at night overthinking to the point of not being able to fall asleep, they will prescribe herbs and acupuncture points to quiet the mind. If you have long restless nights during which you wake often, well, we've got a different set of acupuncture points and herbs to treat that, too! It's all about finding a balance between mind-body-spirit and the natural world. Remember, once that harmony is re-established, your body will have a new pattern. And, if you make the recommended diet and lifestyle changes, you won't need TCM to help you sleep anymore. Your insomnia will be a thing of the past!
What You Can Do Right Now
Let's say you aren't yet ready to give TCM a try. Here are a few quick tips to help you improve your quality of sleep tonight: