Difficulty falling asleep
Restless Leg syndrome
Insomnia and Acupuncture
A good night’s sleep is an essential component to a person’s physical and emotional well-being. However, it is estimated that one in seven Canadians have trouble falling or staying asleep; a sleep disorder commonly referred to as insomnia.
Insomnia may be transient: lasting a few days to weeks; intermittent: occuring from time to time; or chronic: lasting more than one month. Insomnia also includes restless sleep, dream disturbed sleep, waking frequently during the night and waking up early in the morning. The negative consequences of deprived sleep include reduced immune function and increases in stress and anxiety. Sleep deprivation has also been associated with poor memory, lack of concentration, hypertension, impaired motor ability and obesity. It is often found that insomnia results from physical and/or emotional causes, and may also be a sign of underlying disease.
Pain, heart disease, medications, stress, anxiety and depression may all negatively affect one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Dealing with the underlying causes of insomnia is the key to treating it. Treatment of insomnia aims to improve one’s quality of sleep so that a person feels well rested and energetic during the day. Changes in lifestyle and sleep habits can be very beneficial.
These may include:
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, exercise or heavy meals before bedtime
- Implementing a sleep routine with relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or a warm bath
- Ensuring that the sleep environment is conductive to sleep (not too warm, noisy or bright)
When practicing these recommendations do not lead to a restful sleep, people often turn to over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids. While these may be effective in providing temporary relief, they often lose efficacy over time, and have unwanted side effects such as daytime drowsiness and possible dependency.
Chinese Medicine views proper sleep as a balance between yin and yang energies and can be very effective at treating insomnia. A Chinese Medicine practitioner can help identify and treat the underlying imbalances by using modalities such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage and herbal medicine. These treatments provide safe, natural ways to promote good sleep without the unwanted side effects of drowsiness and addiction and can help restore the body’s natural balance to promote a restful night’s sleep.