1 A.M, 2 A.M, 3.A.M why can’t I sleep?

We all know good night sleep is essential to good health. It is recommended that we get between 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to enable our bodies to rest properly, store memories, restore energy and allow our bodies to heal. Even having a few days of sleep deprivation can affect your overall health leading to increased weight gain, the risk of diabetes, depression, affect your ability to concentrate and process information and cause heart problems.
Insomnia can be defined as the inability to get sufficient quality of sleep over a prolonged period of time. It can manifest in many different ways difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying awake and waking early. Excessive dreaming, nightmares, snoring and sleep positions can also affect your quality of sleep and indicate an imbalance in the body. Insomnia can be accompanied by other symptoms including dizziness, headaches, palpitations and memory loss.
Acupuncture is based on the philosophy that the body contains a life energy known as ‘Chi ‘or ‘Qi’ which flows through meridians in the body. When ‘Chi’ is flowing freely through the body you sleep well, your mind is calm and your response to stress is appropriate. When ‘Chi’ isn’t flowing freely in the body disease and imbalance occurs. In Acupuncture insomnia can be characterised as the breakdown of the connection of the Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang energy can’t exist without each other and when they are out of balance they create an imbalance in the body. There are many causes of disharmony in the body including excessive emotions, poor lifestyle habits and diet.

In T.C.M common causes of sleep difficulties include:

  1. Excessive worrying – Worrying is considered to injure the spleen which reduces the supply of blood in the body, blood houses the mind and the deficiency leads to the mind being ungrounded resulting in insomnia.
  2. Working long hours – Long hours without proper breaks and rest can damage the kidney-yin and over a period of time, the heart yin weakens leading to heart empty heat developing. (See below heart and kidneys not harmonised)
  3. Holding on to anger – A build-up of resentment, irritation, frustration can cause liver-yang rising or liver-fire in the body leading to difficulties sleeping. A common symptom is red edges on the tongue and heat symptoms in the body.
  4. Irregular diet – Poor eating habits including irregular eating times, excessive eating and eating too much hot, spicy and greasy food can cause sleep disturbances.
  5. Excess heat in the body – If an illness like a cold, flu or infection does not clear properly it can leave residual heat in the body.

How acupuncture can help?

The real benefit of acupuncture is that it treats the symptoms and root of the problems. It can promote sleep very quickly while treating the underlying causes of the problem.  Calming acupuncture points are used to treat the symptoms of insomnia e.g difficulty falling asleep, dizziness, tiredness, racing thoughts while Acupuncture points with nourishing and clearing properties are used to treat the underlying imbalance. Acupuncture has a holistic approach which means each individual’s treatment plan will be unique to them.


Useful acupuncture points:

There are many points on the body that can promote sleep. These points can be gentle massaged to relax the mind into a restful sleep.

  • Neiguan (Pericardium 6) is a powerful point for calming the mind. It is called the ‘Inner Gate’ and is the primary point of treating insomnia in acupuncture. It is located on the inner forearm about two thumb widths from the wrist crease between the tendons.
  • Yingtang is another good point for treating insomnia. It is located on the forehead between the eyebrows. In my experience needling, this point often creates an immediate feeling of well-being and relaxation. People report a tingling sensation into the tip of the nose.
  • Anmian is an extra point on the scalp when translated into English means ‘Peaceful Sleep’.  This point is located at behind the ear. Slide your finger from the base of your ear to the bony prominence (mastoid process). It is a tender spot behind the ear.
  • Shenmen (Heart 7) a lot of sleep difficulties can be attributed to the heart energy not being in harmony. Shenmen calms the spirit, tonify’s and regulates the heart blood. It is used for emotional problems such as excessive anxiety or worry. Shenmen is located on the ulnar side of the wrist crease (little finger side) in the depression on the radial side of the tendon flexor carpi ulnaris.

For an appointment contact Pauline at Holistic Healing Haven

Post by Pauline Mc Cormack

Disclaimer: Please note that this post is for information purposes only. I am not a medical doctor. This information at no point should be used in place of seeking official advice from a qualified medical doctor.
The Practice of Chinese Medicine, 2004, Giovanni Maciocia Forwarded by Professor Zhou Zhong Ying