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Acupuncture for Sleep Disorders

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.


Another patient who also complains of insomnia, anxiety, and poor memory, may receive an entirely different acupuncture treatment. This patient has the additional symptoms of a pale complexion, dizziness, and reports that once asleep, the quality of sleep is heavily dream-disturbed. This patient does not wake up refreshed. In contrast to the first patient, this person suffers from insomnia due to heart blood deficiency. Treatment with acupuncture is necessary to tonify and bulk up the heart blood. By doing this, the shen will find the heart a more comfortable home.


If you wake up and still don't feel refreshed because you can't drift off peacefully, or you never seem to fall into a nice, deep sleep, it might be time to consult your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.


You don't sleep much at night, but that's normal for many people, especially those who have busy lives filled with tasks and to-do's, right? Sleep deprivation may not seem to be a cause for alarm, but the consequences of this condition can be very real. Snoozing less at night can cause daytime drowsiness, diminished cognitive functions, a drop in immunity, and may potentially lead to other medical conditions. It can be an annoyance, at best; or, it can result in serious outcomes, at worse. Every year thousands of motor vehicle accidents occur because a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel. In fact, studies show that sleep deprivation can reduce motor skills and decision-making much the same way alcohol can.


The symptoms of sleep deprivation happen for many reasons. For some, it comes about due to outside circumstances. This may include working long late-night shifts, having to endure a noisy nighttime environment, or being a new mother who has to stay awake to care for their newborn. Other times, there may be pre-existing medical conditions that interfere with sleep. Insomnia and sleep apnea are two big culprits that fall into this category.


The good news is that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help in most of these cases. Located on the back of the head, near the earlobes, is an acupuncture point that specifically addresses sleep issues. This point is called An Mian and translates as Peaceful Sleep. The name describes it all. When this point is utilized by your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, it serves to induce restorative, peaceful sleep. Additionally, this point has the ability to relieve headaches and soothe an anxious mind. Its versatility allows it to be part of acupuncture treatment for many sufferers of sleep deprivation.


A mother who lacks sleep because she must attend to her infant may find it impossible to get a full night's rest. While acupuncture is not a substitute for a night of restorative sleep, it can provide relief for mom's anxiety, heart palpitations, and headaches. By selecting points that will calm the mind and relieve pain, including An Mian, the little bit of sleep mom is able to get may be of a better quality, and her ability to relax while awake may increase.


Jet lag is another instance when external conditions interfere with sleep. Long journeys on overnight buses or international flights can prove problematic to the sleep and wake cycles. Whether sleep deprivation is due to physical discomfort or nervousness, acupuncture can once again come to the rescue. Before traveling, consider an appointment with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. There are many acupuncture points that can help one cope with upcoming travel plans or any other event that may involve physical and emotional stress.


One example of such a point is called Shen Men and is located on the outer ear. It is also known as Heavenly Gate because it permits 'heavenly' healing energy to flow through a patient's body. The idea is that with the influx of heavenly energy, a person mentally and emotionally enters a state of paradise, where stress and physical discomfort are nonexistent.


It is vitally important to refresh every night with good, solid sleep. Not doing so may increase the risk of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other medical conditions.


If you believe you suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation, contact us to learn how acupuncture can help you!


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