Insomnia is difficult in getting to sleep, or staying asleep. A 'normal' amount of sleep is different for each person as there are many factors that affect the amount of sleep we all need. However, when sleeplessness causes you to feel tired, irritable and unrefreshed in the morning then it's important to be seen by your doctor and to see what can be done to help.
what can be done about insomnia?
Stress and anxiety are commonly associated with bouts of insomnia, although it can also be linked to some conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and asthma. Your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or sleeping medication for use in the short-term. However, stress-relieving treatments like acupuncture have also been increasingly popular and has been named by the World Health Organizaion (WHO) as being of potential use for sleeplessness.
What to do
There is a range of things you can do to help you get to sleep, such as:
- avoiding caffeine later in the day
- avoiding heavy meals late at night
- setting regular times to wake up
- using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
This is often referred to as 'good sleep hygiene'.
Relaxation can also help. Try taking a warm bath an hour before you go to bed or listening to calming music.
Read more self-help tips for insomnia.
How Can Chinese Medicine Help
Acupuncture and certain herbal medicines can regulate the autonomic nervous system and increase the amount of certain substances in the brain such as serotonin which promote relaxation and sleep within the body. Clinical studies of patients with sleep disturbances have suggested that acupuncture and acupressure can help patients with varying degrees of insomnia by enhancing sleep quality and decreasing awakenings through the night.
what to expect
We recommend a short 6-week course of treatments to help with sleeplessness. In our experience, once a consistent quality of sleep over a period of several weeks has been achieved, we will advise reducing your treatments to once monthly to maintain the benefits.
Sok SR, Erlen JA, Kim KB. Effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia. J Adv Nurs. 2003 Nov;44(4):375-84. Review.
Suen LK, Wong TK, Leung AW, Ip WC. The long-term effects of auricular therapy using magnetic pearls on elderly with insomnia. Complement Ther Med. 2003 Jun;11(2):85-92.
Tsay SL, Cho YC, Chen ML. Acupressure and Transcutaneous Electrical Acupoint Stimulation in improving fatigue, sleep quality and depression in hemodialysis patients. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32(3):407-16.