I see this as a growing concern with my patients. Poor sleep can be a part of many other conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress, or hormonal imbalances. With an increased workload at home and at work, many of my patients are choosing to cut back on sleep to get more done during the day. The resulting imbalance can be corrected by using acu-points and a few easy-to-follow sleep tips.
Oriental Medicine takes a look at your overall health patterns and factors them into your sleep disorder. We first separate the sleep problems: difficulty falling asleep (deficient blood condition), staying asleep (deficient yin condition), or both (deficient blood and yin). Sleep position is examined as well.
If you can't sleep on your back, then we suspect excess condition of lungs or heart; if you can only sleep on your back with outstretched arms, excess heat; sleeping on your stomach would indicate a deficiency, possibly of the stomach; on your side points to deficient Qi or blood. Snoring—which affects 25 percent of men and 15 percent of women—is characterized by excess phlegm of the stomach channel. For all of these conditions, I've found that acu-points and/or Chinese herbal medicine bring great relief.
Watch your intake of alcohol and narcotics. Alcohol can help you relax and fall asleep, but it often causes you to wake up in the middle of the night Fifty percent of people who regularly take sleeping pills worsen their insomnia. Chronic sleeping pill users are 50 percent more likely to die in automobile accidents than nonusers.
Stabilize your hands by laying them on your chest, gently at first, pressing into CV-17 located in the middle of the sternum between the nipples. Press gently, adjusting the pressure to your comfort. This acu-point clears the heart, calms the mind, and promotes sleep.
Locate Yintang (Seal Hall) in between your eyebrows. Use your index fingers to gently press the point for 30 seconds while closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Repeat three to five times. Your free hand can cradle your elbow to keep your pressing arm relaxed if you choose to press with only one finger. This acu-point releases heat and wind and is used to calm your mind. Additional acu-points to aid insomnia include CU-4, PC-6, and SP-6 (see Chapter 16, "Birthing Baby"), and HT-7 and LIV-3 (see Chapter 18, "Female Frustrations").
Kathy complained of poor sleep due to restless leg syndrome. Each night her legs would feel tighter as the night progressed, and she found herself stretching, rolling over, and waking many times. Her anxiety at bedtime was also growing. We began acupuncture treatments, which helped relax her muscles and mind. Within two weeks, she noticed a great change in her sleep pattern. At the end of six weeks, she was sleeping through the night. She now uses stretching excercises and acupressure as her self-care and has not counted sheep for months.
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It seems like you hear it all the time from nearly every one you know I'm SO stressed out!? Pressures abound in this world today. Those pressures cause stress and anxiety, and often we are ill-equipped to deal with those stressors that trigger anxiety and other feelings that can make us sick. Literally, sick.