Sleep problems that are commonly treated with acupuncture

Your body suffers if you find it hard getting adequate sleep at night. Different detrimental health consequences can occur if you can’t get a decent night’s sleep. These consequences may include:

  • Lowered immune system
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Headaches
  • Quicker life span

A person risks developing severe health issues when he/she does not get enough sleep. Therefore, it is extremely important that one gets the proper health care therapy. Some of the best available therapies/treatments for sleeping problems are traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture which actually is a component of TCM. These two Eastern modalities have been used to treat insomnia and other sleeping issues for over 5,000 years. Sleep problems that are commonly treated with acupuncture and/or TCM include (the word ‘insomnia’ can signify a number of the following symptoms):

  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Shallow breathing while sleeping
  • Problem waking in the morning
  • Teeth grinding while asleep
  • Dream-disturbed sleep
  • Sleeping restlessly
  • Waking up frequently during sleep
  • Having a hard time falling asleep

Based on TCM principles, your Spirit (aka the Mind) or Shen (in Mandarin), dictates the quality of your sleep. Your Spirit needs your Heart for nourishment particularly the Heart Yin (In TCM, the 5 major organs of the body is composed of two aspects, the Yin and Yang). If the Yin of your heart is sufficiently nourished, expect to enjoy sound, adequate sleep; in on the other hand, if it is agitated or deficient, you will likely develop sleeping problems.

Shortages/deficiencies in a person’s Heart organ system can be caused by external pathogenic effects, childbirth, unhealthy diet, or by genetic predisposition. Factors that agitate the heart may include Wind or Fire and other natural TCM elemental factors as well as and more frequently extreme emotions such as depression, age or stress. Wind and Fire as well as emotional extremes are essentially affiliated with your Liver, and so this means that when you have Liver Yin shortage your sleep can be affected.

Intense dreams that cause you to wake from your sleep or dream-disturbed sleep is often a sign of a deficiency, although it may occasionally be an indication of an excess as well. An example of this (that is written in ancient texts) would be of a dream about flying while seeing strange objects made of iron or gold. This is a sign of a deficiency of the Lungs (the organ system that is responsible for the immune system and your breathing). If one cries in his/her dream, this can signify Lung excess (grief or sadness are emotions affiliated with the Lungs). Even your sleeping posture can be a sign of something. If you often sleep on your stomach, one side or your back, it may be a sign of either an excess or deficiency pattern. Snoring in your sleep is known to be associated with a pattern of excess.

If you are considering having acupuncture for the treatment of your sleep problems, be sure to find an acupuncturist who is qualified and preferably specializes or has wide experience in handling sleeping problems. One needs a correct diagnosis in order to get the right treatment for his/her condition. The acupuncturist who treats you first needs to know whether you suffer from a shortage or an excess and what type of shortage/ excess it is. For example, if you find it very hard to fall asleep, this often means you have some kind of a deficiency; in the case of easily falling asleep but frequently waking up at night is a likely sign of a different kind of a deficiency. Your acupuncturist or TCM practitioner will diagnose your condition by looking at your tongue and taking your pulse and afterwards, provide you with the best treatment possible for your sleeping problem.

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