Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Insomnia

Acupuncture Sleep

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that stress is a primary factor to ill health and disease. Today’s daily responsibilities are demanding more and more from us then ever before, tighter deadlines and increased pressures often leaves us eating on the run, substituting healthy options, and not having time for an exercise routine. Although all of these examples are consistent with an unbalanced lifestyle, one of the stand-alone causes of stress, and stress related illness, is inadequate and poor quality sleep.

According to the NIH (National Institute of Health) studies indicate that quality sleep is primary to help maintain health, and to prevent many of the medical conditions on the rise, that present in clinics all over the world today. Disorders like diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue, obesity and degenerative heart disease are just a few. Data also indicates that inadequate sleep is also linked to antisocial behavior and mood swings, in both adults and adolescents. The bottom line is, quality sleep helps us to maintain health on all physiological levels, and leaves us feeling more focused and in control of our daily lives. For those individuals that truly suffer from the depleting effects of insomnia and sleep disturbances will tell you, there will come a time that you will seek resolve, treatment will be inevitable.

So what are the treatment options? Most people unaware of help outside of orthodox medicine will generally talk to their doctor to find out what can be done to help. Sleeping medications known as “Sedative Hypnotics” are often prescribed, these are of the Benzodiazepine family of drugs. Although people will sleep, there are many undesirable side effects that can come with it, effects that include drowsiness, changes in appetite, constipation, stomach pain, dizziness, headache and heartburn, among other symptoms. This outcome for most people can quickly turn out to be counter productive when trying to achieve balance in health.

But thankfully there is another effective treatment option, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. In the clinical setting the Chinese Medical practitioner is interested in all aspects of the individual’s health. Through the East Asian medical model, the therapist bridges the connections between the insomnia and the other symptoms that are present.

For many it might seem a little rich to think that changing eating habits could compliment treatment, so lets look at a scenario that presents regularly in the clinic. Mr. X primary complaint is Insomnia. When questioned thoroughly we find that Mr. x also complains of low back pain with heightened libido, upper trap and neck pain, irritability, dry mouth and thirst. When questioned about diet, Mr. X states that he eats quite healthy, toast and coffee in the mornings, a salad and a cut of meat for lunch, and maybe something quick and easy like pasta of an evening, usually around 8 or 9pm and a black tea before bed. A Chinese Medical diagnosis concludes that Mr. X has Kidney Yin deficiency with heat rising.

In Chinese Medical Pathology, the cooling and nourishing Kidney energy has become weakened, and is failing to support the lower back. As time goes on, this creates a lot of heat, which moves upwards, drying up the fluids in the upper back and neck, causing pain and rigidity. This rising heat also accumulates in the head and has the ability to cause insomnia and dream disturbed sleep. By adjusting Mr. X evening eating habits, cutting out the refined carbs and introducing something nourishing like a vegetable soup, Mr. X body would no longer need to try and break down refined carbohydrates that spike his blood sugar while he sleeps. He could be instructed to drink an herbal tea instead of black tea, which contains caffeine, and make eating earlier of an evening a daily practice.

These changers, along with a prescribed herbal supplements that help with cooling the body, and restoring the nourishing qualities of the Kidney, the adjustments to diet, goes a long way to compliment the physical and harmonic effects of the Acupuncture treatment. It also gives everybody the chance to learn and take further control of there own health, day to day. An appreciation and understanding of the obvious connection between all symptoms becomes the primary focus, and the results speak for themselves.

What’s more, Acupuncture can stimulate the body’s own production of Melatonin to help with sleep, this is supported by a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology in 2004, which indicated that Acupuncture, does in fact stimulate the production of endogenous Melatonin. The preliminary study concluded that Acupuncture proved to be a therapeutic intervention for anxious people suffering from insomnia, and could serve as a substitute to pharmaceutical therapy. Our Acupuncturists and Chinese Medical practitioners find that Insomnia is a common complaint in our clinic and although Acupuncture can often be the principle therapy, as indicated above; herbal supplementation and dietary advice will also be drawn upon to help support treatment and improve positive clinical outcomes.

The above information is brief but informative, as to how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine could help you with Insomnia and sleep disturbance. It gives clear insights in both a Chinese and Western medical context, as to how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has proved its clinical efficacy and survived for so long as a solid treatment option.

At Brisbane natural health we take pride in our approach to help you to wellness. We have a full team of natural health practitioners and offer extended support through a great network of allied health professionals. If you’d like an acupuncture appointment at our Brisbane clinic to help you sleep, call us on 07 3367 0337 now.


Zan Fu Syndromes “Differential Diagnosis and Treatment” McDonald, J, Penner, J (1994)


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