TCM Self Care Tips To Get Rid of Insomnia

Insomnia is rampant. So many people are walking around exhausted, medication-dependent, or resigned to a sleepless existence. More and more — since an Ambien induced night’s sleep just isn’t the same as a natural night’s sleep — people are turning to acupuncture and other non-drug therapies for insomnia.

Insomnia is one of the most common complaints seen by TCM practitioners.

Regular acupuncture treatments can be extremely helpful for combating insomnia. TCM practitioners customize treatments based on the specific brand of insomnia from which someone is suffering.

Some people have trouble falling asleep while others can’t stay asleep. Some are woken from frequent dreams while others can’t stop their minds from spinning. Some wake up every single night at 1.30am. Others sleep like babies until 3:30am.

What time do you wake up at night?

One helpful diagnostic tool used by acupuncturists for insomnia is the Chinese-medicine clock. It assigns a two-hour window to each of the body’s systems (see below).

TCM Internal Organs Clock

This can be helpful in determining which system may be out of balance. For example, if you consistently wake up at 1.30am, an acupuncturist might suspect a Liver imbalance.

For people who wake up between 1am and 3am, Liver qi stagnation tends to be the culprit. If this is your pattern, you can jumpstart the Liver system by starting the day with a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it. It’s also important to move the qi through exercise for at least 30-60 minutes every day. I also suggest taking 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar throughout the day.

If you’re up every night at 3.30am, Lung could be the issue.

This is the time the Lungs are supposed to help anchor your spirit and allow you to rest. The Lungs are easily injured by dryness, which could be due to speaking too much at work, forced-air heating and cooling, or living in an arid climate. The Lungs respond quickly to apples and pears, which help to naturally restore the moisture balance for the respiratory tract. If you’re waking between 3am and 5am, grab a glass of apple or pear juice (or cider) during the day, and have an extra glass if you’re up at night. It will help replenish the Lungs and get you back to sleep.

You can use the Chinese-medicine clock to get clues about which of your systems are out of balance and causing insomnia.

Here’s why you can’t fall asleep

If you’re having a hard time falling asleep—opposed to waking in the middle of the night—it’s usually an indicator of one of two things: Either your Gall Bladder won’t calm down, or you’re dealing with Heart qi deficiency.

Gall Bladder energy is strongest from 11pm – 1am, so if you can’t fall asleep until 1am, it could be because your Gall Bladder system is all amped up.

The Gall Bladder is often impacted by stress, so a good long-term plan for dealing with insomnia is to reduce your stress.

Since that’s easier said than done, a more immediate solution is to massage the sides of your head, an area were the Gall Bladder channel runs.

Scrub the temporal region of the head—right above and behind the ears, within the hairline—followed by rubbing or squeezing the tops of your shoulders. This can help clear some of the energy away from the mind so that you can rest.

The inability to fall asleep due to Heart qi deficiency usually involves anxiety.

In these cases, stress may not be the underlying issue. It is more likely to be general overwhelm from too much happening in our lives. Anxiety with insomnia is a great indicator that it is time for a meditation practice like prayer, yoga, tai chi, or qigong — anything to help calm your mind and give you a break from all that is happening.

For people with insomnia of the Heart qi deficiency kind, here’s what recommended – shut down all devices, eliminating the glow of LED lights from the room, light reading, and perhaps drinking a cup of chamomile tea before turning off the lights.

Visiting a TCM practitioner is a great way to start understanding the imbalances that may be causing your insomnia. Once you have a better sense of what type of insomnia you’re dealing with, you can choose more targeted techniques for addressing it.

TCM Self Care Tips To Get Rid of Insomnia
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