Insomnia and Chinese Medicine

Insomnia is the inability to have a good quality sleep.  One will have a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep or both which gives them functional impairement throughout the day.  Generally speaking there are 3 types of insomnia: Transient, Acute and Chronic.  Transient insomnia is one that generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks and is commonly caused by a change of sleeping location, diet or stress.  Acute Insomia lasts anywhere from 3 - 6 weeks while chronic insomnia lasts years and years.   

Insomnia effects peoples quality of sleep and can be different every night in 3 main ways.  Onset Insomnia effects people when just trying to fall asleep at the beginning of their sleep time.  Middle insomnia occurs after falling asleep and will wake them up in the middle of the night with a difficulty of falling back asleep.  Terminal or end of the night insomnia happens in the early morning hours where one will wake up and not be able to fall back asleep before having to get up.  


These conditions can be caused by or aggravated by many different factors such as stimulants (caffiene), pain (wakes one up because of discomfort), Hormonal changes (ie PMS), shift work, jet lag, anxiety, depression, ...

A lack of sleep due to insomnia can have extreme detrimental effects on your health.  A recent study on 1.1 million americans showed that those who slept less than 6 hours per night when compared to those that slept more than 7 hours per night had a higher mortality rate.  


Herbs Commonly Given for Insomnia:

Valerian Root - Valeriana Officinalis



Treatment of Insomnia with Chinese Medicine:


Heart Blood and Spleen Qi Deficiency

Difficulty falling asleep with an excess of dreams.  One will never have a deep sleep and often wake still tired feeling as if they haven't rested.  In this type of insomnia not only is it difficult to fall asleep but also difficult falling back asleep. There will be a general sense of fatigue, dizziness, dry skin, floaters in the eyes and digestive complaints like bloating and loose stools.

Herbal Medicine Formula: Gui Pi Tang  or  Suan Zao Ren Tang


Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency 

Insomnia with irritability where one has a difficulty falling and staying asleep.  There will be commonly night sweats, general sense of heat especially in the hands, feet and chest.  

Herbal Medicine Formula: Tian Wang Wu Bu Xin Dan



Liver Blood Insufficiency

Difficult sleeping where one will wake frequently and have a great difficulty falling back aslep. There will be many dreams and a short fused temper.  They will also have a discomfort in the upper abdomen and lower ribs and lots of PMS symptoms. 

Herbal Medicine Formula: Suan Zao Ren Tang  or Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San


Heart with Gall Bladder Qi Deficiency

General sense of insomnia in a person who always is thinking and is fairly timid making it difficult for them to make decisions.  They will sweat very easily, feel easily fatigued,  have palpitations and easily become short of breath. 

Herbal Medicine Formula: An Shen Ding Zhi Wan with  Ren Shen  (Ginseng) and Fu Ling (Poria) 


Phlegm Heat Accumulation

Insomnia with a general sense of fuzziness in the head or dizziness and blurred vision.  There will be stuffiness in the chest, a bitter taste in the mouth, nausea and vomiting in severe cases. There may be sticky stinky stools with belching and a sense of bloating all the time.  Their cheeks will generally be red and have possible acne.  

Herbal Medicine FormulaWen Dan Tang


Stomach Qi Disharmony

Difficult sleeping with digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation or alternating diarrhea and constipation, bloating, stomach cramps,belching, ...   This type of insomnia is often preceded by a poor diet or overeating.  

Herbal Medicine Formula: Bao He Wan or Da Cheng Qi Tang


Liver Fire

Insomnia which has a history of emotional upset usually irritability or a shock of some sort.  Difficulty falling asleep, headaches, red face, red eyes, constipation, ...  This is a severe type of insomnia and may be present in cases of mania. 

Herbal Medicine Formula: Long Dan Xie Gan Tang


Alternative Treatment Methods for Insomnia: 

Auricular Acupuncture:  shenmen, subcortex, sympathetic, HT, SP, KI

7 star Acupuncture: along Du and Bladder Meridians, gentle stimulation (do not bleed, only until skin turns pink)


To help with insomnia trying to keep yourself calm by using meditation, exercise, Qigong, yoga, taiqi, .....   can also help

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