Insomnia & the Heart
Insomnia means different things to different people. Some people have a very difficult time turning off their minds and falling asleep. Other people can fall asleep fine, but always wake back up, several times throughout the night. Some people are light sleepers or excessive dreamers and never really feel rested. Some people can stay asleep for a stretch but then wake up too early in the morning and can’t fall back asleep. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these situations all reflect different health patterns, with different approaches to treatment. However, they all have one thing in common: the Heart. Now, let me preface this by saying that if you are struggling with insomnia, this does not mean you have a scary heart condition. Acupuncture addresses the movement of energy, and so health patterns are detectable at a much earlier stage, when they are still without form and can be easily treated. It is only if these early signs of misdirected energy are ignored—for years—that they eventually turn in to something more physical and therefore more serious, which would actually show up in bloodwork and other lab tests. So let’s just assume your insomnia is only a problem of weakened, aggravated or misdirected energy, and is fixable. According to Chinese Medicine, our state of mind depends upon us getting rejuvenating sleep, and our ability to get rejuvenating sleep depends upon our state of mind. And the health of our minds and our sleep depends upon the health of our heart and blood. There are many different ways that our heart can become weakened. Certain emotions are particularly hard on the heart and therefore the mind, like worry and anger. We all struggle with these feelings from time to time, and have probably all lost some sleep over them. However, to have a longterm pattern of insomnia going on due to this emotional strain is truly a hardship on the body. Acupuncture is an effective way to calm the mind so that you do not ruminate on these feelings, and thus allow your body to rest, and recover. Overwork is another common cause of insomnia. Working long hours without rest does not allow the heart to be nourished properly. Over time this causes the heart to feel too hot. When the heart is too hot, the mind becomes restless and agitated, and sleep is disrupted. Acupuncture is able to clear out the excess heat in the heart, leaving a person feeling calmer and able to sleep. Irregular diet is another culprit that can lead to insomnia. The body likes to live in rhythms. Your body wants you to go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every day, and eat meals at the same regular intervals. Eating at erratic hours, overeating, or eating greasy or spicy food can create too much heat in the stomach, which then rises and bothers the heart & mind, interfering with sleep. Excessive blood loss is another source of poor sleep. People who are chronically anemic, have had a bloody trauma, and women who have excessive bleeding during their periods and from childbirth are in a weakened state. This causes the heart to struggle, leading to difficulty sleeping. Acupuncture and herbal formulas increase the body’s quantity and quality of blood, thereby supporting the heart and liver and allowing deep sleep. Before resorting to addictive sleep meds, consider trying acupuncture for your insomnia. Not only will it improve your quality of sleep, it will also quiet your mind, stabilize your emotions, cool you down if you’re too hot, nourish your blood, and strengthen your heart. Not bad for an hour appointment, and it’s often covered by insurance! Call today to inquire if your healthcare plan covers acupuncture! (520) 318-5560. Candice Thomas is a licensed acupuncturist in Tucson, specializing in chronic pain, stress relief, and prostate health. Visit her at www.LightWorksAcupuncture.com. Bibliography Maciocia, G. (2008). The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone.