Adequate rest is essential to good health. Proper sleep boosts your energy and focus, helps strengthen your immune system, and allows you to more calmly deal with stress. An estimated 30–50% of the general population suffers from insomnia. Factors such as pain, digestive disturbances, and even medications can all lead to sleeplessness. Before you reach for the Ambien, let’s take a look at Traditional Chinese Medicine’s view on lack of sleep.
At night, our active energy (Yang energy) should move inward and become anchored by our passive energy (Yin energy). When this fails to happen, insomnia results. What can you do? Acupuncture and Chinese herbology offer a number of treatment solutions to help you get a good night’s sleep. Your practitioner can add the extra point “Anmian” (also called Peaceful Sleep) or Kidney 6 and Bladder 62 to help guide the Yang energy inward and become rooted by the Yin energy. The appropriate herbal formula can help clear excess heat or tonify any deficiencies presenting with your current condition.
But what happens when it’s 2am and you find yourself tossing and turning? What do you do now and how can you avoid it tomorrow night?
Here are the Don’ts –
- Avoid stimulating foods & drinks late in the day (i.e. spicy foods, heavy meats, & caffeine).
- Avoid stressful mental activity and strenuous exercise in the evening.
Let’s get to the Do’s –
- Drink chamomile or valerian tea before bedtime.
- Soak feet in warm water (to anchor Yang energy).
- Adjust the thermostat to a comfortable setting.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark enough & quiet enough for a peaceful night’s sleep.
- Listen to Debbie Ford’s “Sweet dreams nighttime meditation“.
- Try yoga’s Savasana or “corpse pose”.
- Add 5 drops of marjoram and 10 drops of lavender to a hot tub. Soak in the bath for 20 minutes. (Caution: Do not overuse marjoram. It is a sedative and can cause drowsiness. Marjoram should not be used by pregnant women.)
And what about foods? A healthy consumption of the following foods also helps quiet the mind. (See Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford for more great recommendations.)
- Grain: whole wheat, brown rice, and oats calm the mind.
- Mushrooms: especially reishi soothes the spirit.
- Silicon Foods: cucumber, celery, and lettuce help to improve calcium metabolism & strengthen nerve and heart tissue.
- Fruit: mulberries & lemons calm the mind. Schisandra berries calm the spirit and are often prescribed in Chinese herbology for insomnia.
- Seeds: jujube seeds nourish the heart.
- Animal products: quality cow & goat milk (for those who can tolerate dairy) nourish the heart.
I hope these suggestions have been helpful! I wish you sweet and peaceful dreams.