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Let’s Talk Insomnia

Apr 19, 2017

Nothing feels better than waking up rested – NOTHING. Conversely, nothing is harder than getting out of bed after a bad night’s sleep.   Whether you’re lying there trying to will yourself to sleep or stumbling around the bathroom at 4 a.m. thinking, ‘Oh God, please help me get back to sleep,’ know that you’re not alone.

One in three Americans suffers from insomnia. Here in Canada studies done at Laval University in Quebec found that out of the 2,000 people surveyed, 40% suffered from insomnia.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting a series of articles on this condition and how lifestyle and Chinese Medicine can treat it. I will also be exploring other naturopathic remedies like Magnesium and Ashwagandha – but let’s not get ahead of our selves. First lets look at some of the different types of insomnia.

Types of Insomnia

In order to look at possible treatments for insomnia it’s important to realize that insomnia comes in many shapes and sizes. Chinese Medicine takes an interesting approach to this debilitating syndrome with yin and yang balance being the ultimate goal.

First up:

Can’t Fall Asleep   When I’m treating a patient for insomnia the first thing I ask is, “Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?” For people who have trouble falling asleep or who fall asleep and then seem to skim the surface of sleep, often they will be qi and blood deficient. This type of pattern is common in women and men who work long hours or are constantly in a high state of stress, anxiety and over thinking. Think over achievers. This group of people are exhausted but really have trouble falling asleep.

Can Fall Asleep but wake up in the night  This group of people usually can fall asleep ok, but will wake up feeling hot, restless and thirsty. The culprit is heat. Consuming alcohol, sugar, caffeine, spicy hot foods and or chocolate all put heat into the body. The heat rises and disturbs the mind and spirit. This group is more likely to have vivid nightmares.

Menopause Insomnia  This group of women often wake up around 4 am and are usually also suffering from too much heat –sweating, dry mouth, thirsty but sip water not gulp. Western medicine would blame estrogen and progesterone deficiencies as the culprit. In Chinese Medicine we call it Kidney Yin and Essence deficiency. Cold by day, hot at night.

Tired but Wired  These are the people who literally come alive at night – think teenagers and night owls. We call these Yin Types – as Yin energy is strongest at night. These are the kids that stay up until 3-4 a.m. and then sleep till noon. People who work shifts often get caught in this cycle especially if they are coming off of a highly stressful job like healthcare workers or police officers.   It takes a while for them to get relaxed enough to fall asleep and then their sleep is often disrupted.

Stay Tuned – for ways to treat these different types of insomnia. Hint – diet plays a big part in the solution.




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