Can't Sleep? Treat Insomnia Naturally
By Aleksandra Mihajlovic, Licensed Acupuncturist & Board Certified Herbalist
From the vantage point of Chinese Medicine, sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. As important as the food we eat and the air we breathe, sleep can nourish us, repair damage and return balance. When sleep is disturbed, when inadequate in length or quality, the body will compensate as long as it can, but then it will slowly deteriorate into disease.
Chinese Medicine views sleep disturbances as either a blockage in the normal flow of energy (Qi) in the meridians or as a lack of substances and organ imbalances. The practitioner of Chinese Medicine will address the underlying cause with acupuncture and/or a Chinese herbal formula, neither of which have side effects or are habit-forming.
During a typical consultation with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner the following questions will be asked:
- How many hours per night do you sleep?
- What is your bedtime?
- Do you have problems falling asleep?
- Do you have trouble staying asleep?
- Do you wake up during the night? Is there a specific time that you always seem to wake up?
- Do you fall back to sleep easily or have troubles and stay up?
- Do you feel rested when you wake up?
The answers to these questions, together with the rest of your health history, pulse and tongue diagnosis will help formulate a diagnosis. Although insomnia in Western Biomedicine is a catchall term; in Traditional Chinese Medicine it is a much differentiated diagnosis and treatment can be varied depending on the root cause.
It is vital for our health that we leave adequate time for sleep and do not steal time from it for other activities. A few tips for good sleep hygiene can make a tremendous impact on the quality of sleep we experience every night.
- Observe natural rhythms and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time
- 2 hrs before sleep time discontinue use of any electronic devices (TV, phone, tablet, computer) – the intense light from electronic devices disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle in the body
- Sleep in a darkened room with no night lights (again, in order not to disrupt melatonin production)
- Consider the effect of EMF (electro-magnetic fields) on the quality of sleep
- Ideally do not eat 2 hrs before sleep time
- Limit the use of alcohol – while 1 glass of wine might relax you, a few more may bring on fitful sleep with a loss of REM sleep
- Limit caffeine intake (this includes black & green tea) or completely avoid it after 2pm (if your sleep time is around 10pm or 1-2 hrs later)
Your acupuncturist can teach you simple acupressure techniques and points on the body where you can apply pressure yourself. Performing acupressure on these points before sleep or whenever you are under stress can bring calmness and relaxation.
Aleksandra Mihajlovic, L.Ac., M.Sc., Dipl. OM is a NJ and NY Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Herbalist, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) and Certified GAPSTM Practitioner. Aleksandra holds a post-graduate Diploma in Acupuncture and Traditional Herbal Medicine, a B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Physiology and a M.Sc. in Toxicology. She is certified by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in GAPS diet protocol. Her goal as a practitioner is to help her patients achieve vibrant health through acupuncture, herbal remedies, optimal nutrition and ancient healing techniques. She believes that a human body has an amazing ability to transform and heal itself if given the right tools. Aleksandra's special interests are women's health, pediatrics, dermatology, sports injuries and cosmetic acupuncture.
Aleksandra’s practice “Sasha Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine LLC” is located at 70 Park St, Suite 101, in Montclair, NJ. For more information please visit www.SashaAcupuncture.com or call (862)703-0966.