According to recent research over two thirds of adults are getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. That’s over 40 million people starting each day not feeling their best.
In England alone doctors make over 10 million prescriptions for sleeping pills every year. Like most medication these can have unwanted side effects, especially dependency.
Given the scale of the problem I’m sad to discover that only 1 in 5 of us would consider acupuncture for insomnia. And even then that would be as a last resort.
It provides such great diagnostic information for the state of your health overall and allows us to tailor treatment specifically to you. So even if you came for treatment for a seemingly unrelated issue I’d want to know all about the ZZZs you’re getting.
When people ask me what acupuncture can treat I usually say ‘pretty much everything’. Plus it’ll help you feel more energised, less stressed and will help you sleep better. But improving sleep with acupuncture isn’t just a bi-product of treatment. You can use acupuncture to specifically address a sleep issue you may have.
There is lots of evidence that shows that it improves sleep quality and doesn’t induce any of those unwanted side-effects (See BAcC for details).
In Chinese medicine insomnia covers a wide range or problems – including having difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, waking up too early and experiencing dream-disturbed sleep. And the one I hear alot – “I get enough sleep but I just wake up feeling tired”.
As we see it, the quality of your sleep is a reflection of the quality of your blood, the balance of Yin and Yang in your body and the state of your Shen and your Hun.
Your Shen is your mental spirit really, the part of you that makes you unique. Your Shen is housed in the Heart and requires good blood flow to keep it rooted and healthy. When our blood does not flow freely then our Shen can become unsettled. When this happens it affects our sleep.
The Hun is most closely linked to our Western understanding of the soul as it enters our bodies at birth and leaves them when we die. It resides in the Liver and when well rooted it ensures a long and restful sleep. If it becomes disturbed it can lead to restless sleep, tiring dreams and in some cases sleep-walking.
Night time is associated with Yin whilst daytime and activity are associated with Yang. If these are out of balance you will not sleep well.
With all this in mind anything that injures our blood or Yin energy can contribute to insomnia.
You can influence the quality of your blood with a good diet. For example, eating regular meals, lots of fresh veg and protein, not too much sugar, avoiding lots of cold raw food, alcohol, caffeine or greasy foods.
Childbirth also injures blood and Yin. Aside from the obvious disturbances of your baby waking through the night, mothers often report poor sleep well after their children have started sleeping through the night. This might be why more women experience insomnia than men.
Our Yin energy decreases with age so sleep naturally becomes more elusive. Sadly there’s nothing I can do to stop you getting any older.
Now anyone who has trouble sleeping will know that worrying about something or thinking about work can drive you mad in the early hours of the night as you toss and turn silently, shouting to yourself ‘just go to sleep!’. Your body will always benefit from a relaxed mind and body so staying relaxed is key. Easier said than done of course so at the very least, try and make sure you have enough time to wind down before you head to bed. It called having good sleep hygiene.
Switch off your mobile phone (and definitely keep it out of the bedroom). Stop working. Even turn off the TV. Have a bath. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and chocolate. Block out light and keep the bedroom cool.
oh, and SWITCH OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE. Really.
So with some careful adjustments to your lifestyle, coupled with a course of acupuncture you could find you’re back to sleeping just like a baby (rather than the parents of one).
To make an appointment please contact me.