Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture

By: Lynn Jaffee

 

What exactly is Insomnia?

Insomnia is the inability to get a full night of sleep. It can be an annoyance for most people at one time or another. For many, however, it’s a chronic problem that leaves its sufferers exhausted, irritable, and unable to handle the physical and emotional stresses of everyday life. An estimated 32 million Americans, or about 1 in 8, suffer from some form of insomnia.

Sleeplessness can come in many forms. For people with mild insomnia, dropping off to sleep may be a problem. Many sufferers are able to fall asleep, but wake during the night and spend the early morning hours wide awake, unable to get back to sleep. In the extreme, people who are plagued by severe insomnia may be sleepless all night long.

Is Insomnia treated differently in Traditional Chinese Medicine than in modern medicine?

Yes, within the framework of modern medicine, insomnia is usually treated through the use of prescription drugs, most often sedatives or tranquilizers. Unfortunately, while these drugs can promote sound sleep, they often produce side effects such as drowsiness, hangover, addictions and withdrawal. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, insomnia is considered an indicator of an underlying imbalance. Treatment is focused on correcting the imbalance, or the source of the problem, not just the outward symptoms.

What is out of balance?

In general, people who suffer from insomnia have a relative excess of Yang energy, which is active, warm and transformative. In contrast, Yin energy is quiet, cool, and nourishing. During the day, Yang energy predominates, keeping us awake and alert and giving us the energy to conduct the activities necessary for each day. As the day moves into evening, the Yang energy begins to decline, allowing us to relax and slow down. To be able to sleep, the Yang energy of the day must transform into the Yin energy of the evening and nighttime hours. In order to sleep well, the Yin and Yang energy of the body must be in balance. Insomnia occurs when Yin and Yang are out of balance.

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work to Treat Insomnia?

In order to determine the source of the imbalance causing insomnia, a practitioner will begin by taking your complete health history and interview. The practitioner will also look at your tongue and feel your wrist pulse to gain information about your condition. Based on your specific symptoms, constitution, and history, the practitioner will develop a treatment plan for you. The goals of your treatment plan will be to alleviate insomnia and correct the source of the problem, the underlying imbalance. A combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, and lifestyle changes might be used.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. When performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist, acupuncture is safe. It is also a natural, drug-free, and effective way to address insomnia.

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