Insomnia is one of the most common health problems in the western world. Studies suggest that one out of three people will suffer from some form of sleep disturbances during their lifetime.
In Chinese Medicine we generally divide Insomnia in to three different types according to the pattern of the sleep problem.
The first type of insomnia is when the patient has difficulty in falling asleep. By definition, if it takes over twenty minutes to fall asleep, it is defined as insomnia, but in some cases it can take hours and in severe cases people just will not fall asleep at all. This type of insomnia is caused usually because of over work and over thinking which weaken the energies of the heart and the spleen (the digestive system.) The heart in Chinese Medicine is in charge of sleep and mental activities and needs sufficient nourishment to function properly. Other symptoms often associated with this pattern are palpitations, weak memory and constipation, digestive problems and fatigue. The treatment is by using herbs and acupuncture to nourish the heart and strengthen the digestive systems and improvement in sleep should soon follow.
The second type of insomnia is when going to sleep is easy but then the quality of sleep that follows is poor. The person feels that the sleep is very light and often wakes up. Sometimes it feels as if no sleep has been had at all. This pattern in Chinese medicine is associated with a deficiency of the heart yin energy. The yin energy is the energy that calms, cools and moistens. Its function is especially important at night time. When the Yin energy is deficient our mind cannot calm down, we feel irritable and hot during the night and cannot have good quality sleep. This condition is associated with long term stress or overworking. Commonly associated symptoms are: night heat or night sweats, palpitations, poor memory and concentration, dry mouth at nights and constipation. The treatment for this type of insomnia is with Acupuncture points and herbs that nourish the Yin energy reducing heat and calming the spirit. In addition to sleeping better the patient should also feel an all around improvement in his physical and emotional health.
The third type of insomnia is when the problem is waking up early in the morning. The person will wake up some time between three and six in the morning and will not be able to go back to sleep. In Chinese medicine this problem is related to the liver and is usually caused by emotional problems, stress or worry. Other symptoms often associated with this type of insomnia are: irritability, tearfulness and sometimes light headedness. The treatment is with Acupuncture points and herbs that treat the liver and calm the mind. You can expect an improvement in your mood and general feeling, in addition to sleeping better.
It is important to understand that in life often two or even all three patterns can be presented in one patient. This is why it is critical to get a correct diagnosis for an optimal treatment. At the first visit to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic the patient will be careful assessed in order to establish the pattern of his insomnia, the reason for it and also his individual constitution and state of health. A treatment then will be specifically tailored for him. With this approach the results of the treatment for insomnia are very good.