Insomnia or Cannot Sleep Well? Japanese Isogai Therapy for Sleep Improvement

By Wu Kuo-Pin
Wu Kuo-Pin
Wu Kuo-Pin
Wu Kuo-pin is the superintendent of Taiwan Xinyitang Heart Clinic. In 2008, he started to study traditional Chinese medicine and obtained a bachelor’s degree from China Medical University in Taiwan.
September 3, 2022 Updated: September 3, 2022

Since the pandemic lasted for more than two years, it did not only change the living conditions of people but also caused a series of health problems, such as physical and mental anxiety, long COVID, and others. There are also many people suffering from insomnia.

How to “improve sleep in a healthy way” has become the talk of the town. Some Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners suggested that people who suffer from insomnia may try the Japanese Isogai Therapy, strapping the legs together while sleeping. This method has been passed from generation to generation for 70 years and it can improve insomnia effectively.

According to the “Survey of Sleeping Quality of Taiwanese Affected by COVID-19 in 2022,” the proportion of people who considered themselves to have insomnia increased from 42.9 percent, before the pandemic, to 59.7 percent, and the proportion of various physical and mental distress caused by sleep disorders also increased from 14.3 percent, before the pandemic, to 41 percent.

In addition, the number of young people having insomnia is increasing.

A study of more than 3,000 young people aged 15 to 24 from mid-2019 to 2022 by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hong Kong found that 23.5 percent had symptoms of insomnia.

Long-term sleep disorders or poor sleeping quality increase the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. When it comes to insomnia, some people choose to take sleeping pills to fall asleep, but sleeping pills have side effects such as sleepwalking and dementia, and long-term consumption also has the problem of addiction.

Wu Kuo Pin, the director of Treatment with Heart Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, suggested that people who have this problem may try the Japanese Isogai therapy, using bandages to bind the feet while sleeping, which can effectively reduce insomnia.

Sleeping with Legs Bound

Practitioner Wu pointed out that if you want to fix insomnia, there is such a trick: use bandages or straps to bind legs at the ankles, and above and below the knees before going to bed, which can help you fall asleep quickly. The method of sleeping with legs tied originated in Japan, invented by Kimiyoshi Isogai, a Japanese expert on hip joint correction, and this method has been passed from generation to generation for 70 years.

Before trying the method of sleeping with legs bound, the choice of bandages is very important. The bandages,  ties, or belts should be at least 5cm (2 inches) wide, do not use narrow ties as this could stop blood circulation. If you do not have any Bandages, ties, or belts you can use gauze bandages instead. The method of leg binding is as follows:

1. Wrap around the ankle with a bandage and tie it with a bow. Do not tie it too tightly, but use moderate strength.

2. Tie above the knees first and below the knees later.

3. When lying down to sleep, stretch your legs forward, put your hands on both sides naturally, and maintain your usual sleeping posture; do the same when sleeping on your side, let your legs bend naturally.

Practitioner Wu explained that this method of leg binding is a bit similar to the Tai Hexagram in I Ching (the Book of Changes, an ancient Chinese divination text). It is just like the TCM said “taking images of something and making a comparison,” which means that if the images are similar, they can obtain the same meaningful therapeutic effect.

The characteristic of the Tai Hexagram is that there are 3 yin above and 3 yang below; this image is like a person’s legs being bound by 3 bandages to form yang. Since the yang qi (positive vital energy) will rise and the yin qi (negative vital energy) will fall, a state of yin and yang exist together, which will bring the following three benefits at the same time:

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1. People with cold hands and feet will start to feel their hands and feet become warm, and their circulation and metabolism will also improve.

2. The mind is empty like the yin yao (one of the 64 Hexagrams) above so that the mind is stable and the mental condition is improved.

3. Reduce the symptoms of frequent urination.

Some people worry that if they urinate frequently at midnight, it will be too difficult to get up to go to the toilet as their legs are bound, but it will not happen. Because when using the method of sleeping with legs bound, the lower 3 yang makes the yang qi sufficient, the circulation of the lower body will be improved, and the symptoms of frequent urination will naturally be reduced.

In addition, Practitioner Wu reminds people who are prone to insomnia, should not take a long afternoon nap, and they should stay awake eight hours before going to sleep at night so that it will not affect their sleeping at night.

Improve Nasal Congestion

Another sleeping problem is snoring; because some people snore loudly, not only are they awakened, but they also disturb the sleep of their family members.

To reduce snoring, you can try to use the abdominal breathing method as much as possible during the daytime, and use this breathing method before going to bed, to relax the mind and body, which can improve the problem of snoring.

It is clinically found that 80 percent of people with sleep apnea are relatively obese, therefore weight loss is helpful.

Some people do not experience sleep apnea, but their sleep quality is not good. It is often due to nasal congestion. In order to improve the problem of nasal congestion, you can start by pressing and rubbing the following two acupuncture points.

1. Ying Xiang Point
It is located next to the midpoint of the wings of the nose, a furrow between the wing of the nose and the lip. Pressing and rubbing this point can make breathing slightly smoother.

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2. Nei Ying Xiang Point
Located in the nasal cavity, Ying Xiang Point upwards, where it meets the nasal bone, there will be a feeling of soreness as you press it, and breathing will be smoother after massage.

In addition, people with severe nasal congestion should eat fewer sweets such as candy, biscuits, beverages, bread, and so on, and should not drink cold beverages. After drinking cold beverages, the metabolism will be poor, and it is easy to produce phlegm, causing the airway of the nose to be blocked with nasal congestion.

Wu Kuo-Pin
Wu Kuo-pin is the superintendent of Taiwan Xinyitang Heart Clinic. In 2008, he started to study traditional Chinese medicine and obtained a bachelor’s degree from China Medical University in Taiwan.