If you have had disrupted sleep by insomnia for a long time, after reading this article I hope that it will give you a good idea how to achieve the beginning of a new sleeping pattern for the rest of your life.
Humans spend one third of their life sleeping. This shows that quality sleep is important for body health and for a good life. Insomnia is a very common disease, most people have experienced this at some time in their life. Some may have it for a few days or months, whilst the more severe cases are long term. Quite often my clients complain that since they remember, they have never had a good nights sleep. Insomnia not only disrupts the sleep, but for long term it will have a great impact on the whole body.
1. Insomnia pattern (Do you have the following insomnia pattern?)
If you want to solve your sleeping problem, first of all you need to understand what type of insomnia you have.
i) Difficulties in falling to sleep
This type of the insomnia have the following characteristics; going to bed you toss and turn, hard to fall asleep, some may take one to a few hours to fall to sleep, by the time the body falls asleep there is not that many hours left to sleep, the next day the body feels very tired, head is not clear (foggy), poor memory, body feels sluggish.
Chinese medicine considers that this type of insomnia is associated with liver and gallbladder disorder. The liver and gallbladder dominate the mind and are affected by stress and emotions, so when you try to go to sleep your mind is unable to switch off. For these cases, they not only have sleeping issues but also have the following symptoms; very stressed and emotional, suffer headaches, stiffness in the neck and shoulder, body bloating, breast fullness or pain before period. In our clinic, we often find these individuals with a tight pulse; dark tongue.
These people usually have the following disease; depression, PMS, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disorder, panic attacks.
If you suffer from this type of insomnia, I suggest that you…
a) Two hours before you go to bed, avoid thinking about things which may increase your stress or emotions. One hour before you go to bed go for a gentle walk in the house or outside for ten minutes or listen to soft music for ten minutes with your eyes closed.
b) Five hours before you go to bed, avoid drinking tea or coffee. One hour before you go to bed you can have a glass of warm milk (if you are able to drink milk) or you can try camomile tea.
c) You should do a certain amount of exercise outside for at least thirty minutes a day.
d) You can try eating certain foods to help balance and strengthen your liver and gallbladder, such as; oranges, banana, celery, carrots, camomile tea, peppermint tea (For more suggestions please see my articles on diet therapy).
e) Soaking your feet in warm water one hour before you go to bed.
Soaking your feet is a very popular healthy way to help insomnia in China. You can fill a container with warm water, place your feet into the water until the water comes up to your mid-calf. You can do this for at least 20 minutes. If the water begins to cool you can add more warm water. This can help to promote circulation to the legs and feet, tranquilizing and clearing the mind to help you fall asleep quickly.
ii) Waking up often during the night
Generally, good sleep should last for at least five to six hours during the night. Children should be longer.
The characteristics of this type of insomnia are; wake up often (every 1 or 2 hours), after waking up difficulty in falling back to sleep.
This type of insomnia is quite often associated with kidney and heart disorder. People who have this issue may experience the following symptoms; frequent urination at night time, lower back pain, lowered libido, dry skin, palpitations, puffy legs and ankles, poor memory, lack of energy, hot or thirsty in the evening. Some women may suffer from menopause at the same time.
a) Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid after dinner and before you go to bed.
b) Eat certain foods which can balance and strengthen the heart such as; goji berries, lotus seeds, beef bone soup (If you would like some more information please see our articles on diet therapy).
c) If you have any of the symptoms above, you should fix these also whilst you are undergoing treatment for insomnia.
iii) Waking up early
In my clinic many of my clients complain that they wake up too early, around 4am. This occurs more often to men over the age of 40 years. After waking they are unable to fall back to sleep but still feel very tired. This type of insomnia disrupts the energy for the whole day.
Chinese medicine considers that this type of insomnia is caused by kidney ying and yang disorder (weakness). This people may experience the following symptoms; lethargy, lower back, knee or ankle stiffness or pain, lowered libido, impotence, poor memory, early onset of grey hair.
a) Eat more foods that can benefit the kidneys such as; walnuts, prawns, soya beans, black kidney beans, black sesame seeds, venison, lamb, beef, scallops, gogi berries (Please see our other articles for more suggestions).
b) Look after your lower back circulation. You should fix the symptoms above whilst you are undergoing treatment for insomnia.
iv) Other types of insomnia
In my clinic, I realise that there are many other issues which may disturb sleep such as; severe dreams, sleep talking/walking.
2. How to help your insomnia
i) No matter what type of insomnia you have, when you come to our clinic our experienced practitioners will check your body through traditional diagnosis methods to help find out the root of the cause.
ii) We will choose suitable treatment (such as herbal medication or acupuncture or cupping or Chinese massage) for your individual case. Usually around 2 treatments your body will start to benefit.
iii) From the first consultation we will give you some suggestions for your diet and lifestyle. These will help to complement the treatment.