It is common to hear someone complain, “I can’t sleep at night. I feel so cranky. What should I do?”
If you often find it difficult to fall asleep, have many dreams while sleeping, or still feel tired after waking up, you probably suffer from insomnia.
While some people turn to sleep pills for help, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners suggest alternative methods to alleviate all those symptoms. They include acupoint massage, hot water baths, foot baths, and avoiding strenuous exercise before bed to improve sleep quality.
Insomnia was expounded as early as 2,000 years ago in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (the fundamental doctrinal source of ancient Chinese medicine).
Insomnia is called “sleeplessness” in Chinese medicine, which refers to a condition in which normal sleep is hard to obtain, the depth of sleep is inadequate, or not long enough. In mild cases, it is difficult to fall asleep or sleep soundly, or one wakes up from time to time or cannot sleep again after waking up. In severe cases, sleeplessness all night often affects everyday work and life.
Unlike Western medicine, Chinese medicine believes that having “too many dreams” is also a symptom of insomnia because excessive dreams can lead to restless sleep or cause people to wake up from them.
Recently, Taiwan Shun Hsin Chinese Medicine Clinic advised that there are multiple factors causing insomnia. They include:
- Psychological factors, such as tension, anxiety, or depression;
- Lifestyle, such as jet lag, smoking, drinking caffeine or other stimulating drinks before going to bed;
- Environmental factors, such as sound, light, smell, insect bites, uncomfortable bed;
- Room temperature too low or too high;
- Physiological factors include polyuria, cough, pain, or other physical discomforts.
More and more studies have also found that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, depression, diabetes, and obesity and impairs cognitive function, memory, and the immune system.
Nine Ways for Better Sleep
To improve sleep quality, in addition to drug treatment, the post suggests nine ways to enhance sleep quality. They set out below:
- 1. Massaging various acupoints such as the Fengchi, Shenmen, Neiguan, Sanyinjiao, and Yongquan;
- 2. Hot water bath and foot bath, which can help relieve tension;
- 3. Use electric blankets or hot packs for around 30 minutes to warm up before going to bed;
- 4. Do not watch TV or use mobile phones one hour before going to bed; keep your mind calm;
- 5. People with nocturia should stop drinking water two hours before going to bed to avoid
restless sleep due to frequent urination;
- 6. Avoid strenuous exercise such as running and fitness exercises four hours before bedtime;
- 7. After dinner, drink one cup of caffeine-free herbal tea, such as chamomile, mint, rose,
lemon balm, and South African Rooibos;
- 8. If you cannot fall asleep, do not lie down all the time; get up and walk around, and do some light
stretching exercises until you feel tired and sleepy;
- 9. Do not stress about not being able to sleep, or it will make insomnia worse.
In the end, the doctor reminds everybody who suffers from insomnia to find out what might be the cause first and follow some good sleeping practices regularly. If you still can’t get rid of insomnia after much effort, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.