Stress can play havoc with sleep, health and mental well being. Over work, relationship breakdown, raising kids, fear of failure, perfectionism, financial insecurity, loneliness can all lead to general anxiety which can lead to a disruption in sleep patterns.
The medical definition of insomnia is “a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day.”
How Is Insomnia Treated with Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
At your first visit to the acupuncture clinic, you will receive a full consultation including your medical history and be asked lots of different questions with the focus on lifestyle, diet, stress management and emotional health. Most patients describe a feeling of deep relaxation and calm during and after the session. I am passionate about my work and I always do my best to give you the best possible treatment outcome.
All British Acupuncture members have undergone rigorous degree level training studying both Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and western bio medical sciences. I qualified in 1999 and have held my license as an Acupuncturist for almost 20 years.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture have been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years. TCM recognizes the proper flow of Qi of the body to be influential in healthy sleep. We look at the underlying issues causing sleep disturbances such as pain, stress and anxiety or night sweats and work to eliminate these issues.
An ancient Chinese physician, Zhang Jing-Yue, wrote: “Sleep is yin and ruled by the spirit. If the spirit is quiet there will be sleep. If the spirit is not quiet there is no sleep.” TCM theory begins with the theory of yin yang. Most basically, Yang is associated with day, activity and wakeful hours. Yin is associated with night, stillness and sleep. The spirit, or ‘Shen’ in Chinese, is a combination of the heart and mind; the two are inseparable in Chinese medicine.
Practitioners of Chinese Medicine focus on sleep problems by taking into consideration your overall balance of mind, body, and spirit. The condition may be remedied using acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques. Treatment is tailored to meet your individual needs and often depends on the underlying cause of the insomnia. A proper diagnosis is key to successfully aiding insomnia, which may be caused by a number of factors including physical strain, mental and emotional stress, or improper diet. All these things must be examined in the patient’s life and adjusted to increase their state of balance. This will be different for each person and tailored to fit their specific needs. Patients with insomnia often have deeply relaxing treatments and fall asleep during their sessions.
Western science has recognised acupuncture’s effects on insomnia and attributes it to the natural release of melatonin and dopamine with acupuncture.
Acupuncture works by:
- Reducing sympathetic nervous system activity, hence increasing relaxation (Lee 2009a)
- regulating levels of neurotransmitters (or their modulators) such as serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, GABA and neuropeptide Y; hence altering the brains’s mood chemistry to help to increase relaxation and reduce
If you are suffering from insomnia you can start by working to eliminate stress and worry from your life. Acupuncture can help you begin to do this by identifying factors that trigger these emotions and take steps to reduce these triggers. Chinese medicine practitioners can also help you manage and reduce your emotional stress and reduce your dependence on sleeping pills or stimulants like smoking, alcohol, coffee or tea, all of which can affect your sleeping patterns. A bit of physical activity each day will help further reduce stress and regulate the flow of blood throughout the body. Practices such as taiji, qigong, and meditation can also help to calm the mind.
“I went to see Colette after years of having trouble with sleeping and the treatment I received made an amazing difference to my life. I would definitely recommend Colette to anyone suffering from sleep problems.”
Colette Assor Lic AcMBAcC runs Acupuncture Works and practises acupuncture in North London.