Sleep disorders occur when difficulties and complications interfere with the quality and length of sleep. One reason why it is so important to consistently have a proper night’s sleep is because without it, other medical issues may worsen. Even a single restless night can leave one feeling mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. While a complete catalogue of sleep disorders is long and varied, some of the most common ones that respond well to treatment with acupuncture and Oriental medicine are insomnia, sleep apnea, jet lag disorder, snoring, night terrors, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Put Insomnia to Rest
Anyone who has ever had a restless night in bed, spent hours looking at the clock or counting sheep, can legitimately complain of insomnia. Sometimes it happens for obvious reasons, and other times we’re at a loss to explain why. According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, an imbalance of the heart organ often plays a role when it comes to disturbances and interruptions of our sleep. It might sound strange to link the heart with insomnia, but the following will help explain.
It is believed that the shen, also called spirit or mind, lives in the heart and returns there to rest every night while we sleep. The concept of shen refers to the cognitive functions, mental health and the overall vitality of a person. The spirit finds sanctuary and rejuvenation in a healthy heart when the emotions and the physical body are equanimous. This ensures an undisturbed, good night’s rest. However, when the shen is ‘disturbed’, it cannot find its way home and is said to wander. When this is the case, symptoms of insomnia may arise.
There are many reasons why the shen may be forced to wander. The heart is a delicate organ that is vulnerable to pathological heat. An example of a condition involving the heart ‘being harassed’ by heat, is called heart yin deficiency. Yin is a cooling, quiet, feminine energy. It is likened to the hidden world of the yet-to-sprout seed, or the unborn baby still in the womb. As heart yin lessens and dries up, it leaves room for yang to take advantage and expand. Yang being a moving, active, masculine force, will create a condition of excess heat in the heart. This makes the heart inhospitable to the spirit.
There will usually be a manifestation of other symptoms confirming a case of insomnia due to heart yin deficiency. These signs and symptoms may include anxiety, mental agitation, poor memory, night sweats and a dry mouth. It is interesting to note that this patient may be able to fall asleep without a problem, but will wake up frequently in the middle of the night. In this case, a practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine may need to build up and nourish yin in an effort to cool down the heart.
If you wake up and still don’t feel refreshed or you never seem to fall into a nice, deep sleep, call today to see what acupuncture and Oriental medicine can do for you!
Suffering from Hypersomnia? Acupuncture Can Help
Hypersomnia literally means excessive sleep. It can manifest as daytime drowsiness, even after a long night’s rest. The desire to doze during daylight hours can be so overpowering that a person may literally fall asleep anywhere, under any circumstance. It may even happen while someone is driving, making it a dangerous condition. The flagship symptoms of hypersomnia, also called hypersomnolence, are strong urges to nap during the day, longer than normal nightly sleep times and an inability to feel refreshed after sleeping.
The consequences of hypersomnia can result in a myriad of symptoms including irritability, problems with memory, impaired thinking, slow speech, depression, loss of appetite, decreased vitality and energy levels, and, in extreme cases, hallucinations
The theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine provides many reasons why sleep and wake cycles may be disturbed. In the case of hypersomnia, the source of the problem may rest with the liver organ and the blood flow.
A few lifestyle suggestions that can help keep your liver healthy include refraining from angry outbursts. Uncontrolled anger damages the liver and easily leads to an increase in heat. Maintaining equanimity through careful thought before saying or doing anything is vital.
Gentle exercise is another way to maintain good liver health. A good walk after a meal will encourage a robust blood flow to aid digestion. Stretching is another way to encourage blood flow. Try standing on your tip toes and reaching your hands as high in the air as they will go.
Sometimes it’s not what you do, but what you don’t do that counts. In this case, avoiding alcohol, or drinking only in moderation, is a good idea. The liver metabolizes alcohol, so the less of it one consumes, the more energy and vitality are preserved.
Hypersomnia can result from neurological diseases, head trauma, substance abuse, side effects from prescription drugs and sleep deprivation. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that is very similar to hypersomnia, but is considered more severe in its symptoms.
If you find yourself spending too much time sleeping in bed or napping on the couch, without ever feeling ready for the day, call today to discuss your concerns.
Nutrients to Ensure a Restful Night
One important way we can help ensure a restful night is by making wise decisions during the day when it comes to our diet. Eating foods and drinking teas with nutrients beneficial to our sleep cycle can be quite simple. Even minor changes in diet can lead to major changes in the quality and duration of sleep.
In This Issue
Exercises to Enhance Sleep Quality
You might not normally associate the words “sleep” and “exercise” with each other, as they each represent opposite states of being. From the perspective of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, sleep and exercise are perfect illustrations of yin and yang.