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Sleeping Disorder & TCM

Sleeping disorder refers to a medical disorder of a person’s sleeping pattern. Common symptoms include inadequate sleeping time, insufficient sleeping depth, inability to rejuvenate and relieve fatigue after a night’s sleep.

Inadequate sleeping time is often the result of difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night and having difficulty getting back to sleep. For more serious cases, the person may stay awake throughout the night.

People who suffer from insufficient sleeping depth often can fall asleep but fail to sleep soundly, or they have a very active mind with many dreams during sleep.

Sleeping disorders can cause a lot of distress, and with inadequate sleeping time and sleeping depth, it may lead to headaches, dizziness, palpitations, constantly feeling exhausted, inability to concentrate during the day, and a greater risk of accidents.

Sleeping disorders are more common in women and elderly people, however it may affect all age groups. Those who are under tremendous stress are also more prone to having sleeping disorders.

The conventional therapeutic approach includes lifestyle changes such as engaging in exercises, reducing caffeinated drinks and avoiding daytime naps. Western doctors may prescribe sleeping pills to help restore a normal sleep pattern, however, they should not be taken on a long-term basis due to the risk of over-dependence.

From TCM’s perspective, sleeping disorders are due to the imbalances of the internal organs. The disease is located in the Heart. In TCM, the Heart governs the mental activities, and an impaired nourishment of the Heart can result in sleeping disorders. Such impaired nourishment could be due to the stagnation of Liver Qi due to emotional distress; retention of fluid and phlegm in the stomach due to excessive consumption of greasy, oily food, or excessive drinking of alcohol; deficiency in the Kidney Qi due to aging or indulgence in sexual activities.

TCM employs various methods, such as acupuncture and tuina therapy, to help treat sleeping disorders, and they are natural, safe and effective. Acupuncture clears blockage within the meridians and strengthens the flow of Qi and Blood; it restores the healthy balance of the internal organs. Tuina is a form of massage therapy which aims at moving the energy in the meridians and the muscles. Besides stimulating the acupoints, Tuina also improves blood circulation and helps calm the mind and body.

A patient with sleeping disorders is often treated with Acupuncture, Tuina and Chinese herbal powder to move the stagnated Liver Qi, clear the fluid and phlegm retention in the stomach, or nourish the Qi of the Kidney and Heart, depending on each individual’s condition. A combination of the TCM treatments prescribed based on syndrome differentiation often helps those with sleeping disorders to sleep more deeply and to achieve restful sleep throughout the night.


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