Anybody who has suffered insomnia will tell you how endlessly frustrating and exhausting it can be. To have night after night of restless agitation, and day after day of foggy fatigue. Sleep is one of your most important assets, and with out it, you can feel mad, depressed, irritable and far less functional in your life. It also means that your body is far less capable of sorting out anything else that may be going on – pain, digestive problems, etc.
Chinese Medicine understands insomnia as having many different causes, and so there will not be the same treatment for every person that suffers it. We try to find out what is at the root of your problem. For example, if there is a great deal of anxiety, then we need to help your body regulate itself better. If your body clock is all out of whack, we help you find your whackness! Acupuncture can also help regulate the side effects of medication – helping your body balance itself out. We will ask you -is it falling asleep that is the issue, or waking frequently, or waking up at the same time every night, or nightmares ? we will also ask all these seemingly unrelated issues to get a whole picture about how your body is working and where it may be out of balance.
Chinese medicine looks at how having too much internal heat can effect our sleep. Have you ever had a sleepless night where you just feel all hot in the head and your body is restless, your mind is agitated and you just cant seem to get comfortable ? Thats a ‘hot’ kind of insomnia. And what about those nights where you are just so so tired, you have been so worn out by work or kids and life such that all day you have been desperate to get into bed, and then when you do, its impossible to sleep ? That tells us that we need to give you a kind of acupuncture tonification, to strengthen you up, allowing your spirit to settle gently to sleep. We may also need to give you some herbs to ‘build your blood’. We help your system regulate itself and sleep patterns are a natural result of your body returning to balance.
Click here to read about how we have helped others with insomnia . . .
Our Sleep suggestions
Go to bed earlier each night. Try to get 7-8 hours sleep (10 hours for kids), but also respond to how you are feeling. Some people may need more, or you may need more at different points in your life.
During pregnancy it’s really important to listen to your body and sleep as much as you need to. Take siestas if you can – and drop the guilt!
Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the hours before bedtime. If you are waking up during the night to urinate, try not to drink any fluids for several hours before bed.
Improve your sleeping environment: keep it dark and quiet, try wearing earplugs if you have noisy neighbours. Try not to have too many electrical items next to your bed – alarm clocks, electric blankets, power plugs filled with things. Don’t have any distractions in the bedroom such as TV or a computer. Beds should only be used for sleep and s..!
Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep quickly. Quieten the mind with breathing exercises, meditation, listening aids. (Click here to learn about our beginners meditation course)
Diet: avoid spicy food, some meats, large meals, alcohol, and caffeine. Try some calming herbal teas.
Exercise: Vigorous exercise is best in the morning, not at night as it will awaken you at night when you need to start winding down. Stick to relaxing stretches in the evening that unravel your stress avoiding insomnia. But do some exercise every day.
Work: Work is best completed during the day. Too much thinking at night can be over-stimulating to your mind.
Warm Foot Bath: soaking your feet in warm water at night will assist in bringing energy and heat down from your head.
There are also many other factors that can interrupt a healthy sleep pattern such as :
- Illnesses – colds and flus can cause snoring, coughing and frequent waking.
- Ill-health – fluctuating hormones, anxiety and depression.
- Work – shift work disrupts sleep cycles on a regular basis. Also, in high stress work environments, many people have a hard time ‘turning off’.
- Traveling – Frequent travellers also tend to have erratic sleeping patterns.
- Sleep disorders – sleep apnoea, snoring and periodic limb movement disorder (muscle spasms, and restless leg syndrome) can disturb the person’s sleep many times during the night.
- Medications – some drugs used to treat disorders such as epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause insomnia.
- Snorers and kids – you could sleep perfectly well if only your hubby wasnt snoring in your head, or your kid was walking you every couple of hours – so get them the treatment they need !
- Pain – sinusitis, back or neck pain, headaches, period pain etc
Where to from here?
Acupuncture – we just get such good results!
Psychotherapy helps you understand the ways your anxieties, and capacity of self-regulation impact your sleep – exploring questions about what may be preventing you from having healthy sleeping habits, like going to bed on time, or how we allow work and stress to interfere with your needs. Psychotherapy in time will address core anxieties and help you develop into the most empowered self you can be.
Massage can be a beautiful way of helping your body remember what being relaxed is. Allow someone else to soften your body, and this can enable your busy mind to follow into a state of blissful sedation – with someone else doing the hard work!