If you are one of millions of Americans who struggle with insomnia, you’re familiar with that feeling of lying awake and checking the clock for hours while sleep eludes you.
Insomnia can be an annoyance for most people at one time or another, but for many it’s a chronic problem that leaves its sufferers exhausted, irritable, and unable to handle the physical and emotional stresses of everyday life.
Sleeplessness comes in many forms. For people with mild insomnia, dropping off to sleep may be a problem. Many sufferers are able to fall asleep, but wake during the night and spend the early morning hours staring at the ceiling. In the extreme, people who are plagued by severe insomnia may be sleepless all night long.
Acupuncture is effective for insomnia because it treats the cause sleeplessness. In Chinese medicine, there are a number of underlying conditions that might result in sleep disturbances, and one of the most common is an imbalance between Yin and Yang.
When it comes to sleep, Yin is the most important player because Yin is related to darkness, rest, and nighttime. Yang, on the other hand, is warm, active and related to the daytime. In order for sleep to happen, the activity of daytime Yang must pass into the restful darkness of the nighttime Yin. While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people actually sabotage this process through the activities they choose before bedtime.
If your insomnia is severe or if you’ve been a long time sufferer, get some help; the combination of acupuncture and herbs will likely get the job done. The following tips may also help you drop off to sleep more easily:
-While this may seem obvious, limit your exercise routine to the daytime hours. Avoid physical activity in the two to three hours before bedtime. Instead try reading, meditating, or relaxing the some way before you turn off the lights for the evening.
-Turn off your computer at night for two reasons. First, your computer screen puts off more light than being outside during the day; and second, whatever you may be doing on your computer is keeping your mind in a state of activity making it hard for you to shut down and get to sleep. (Ditto for the TV.)
-Avoid eating a large meal before bedtime. Allow a good two to three hours for your food to digest before heading off to bed.
-Keep the room where you sleep cool. The Yin of nighttime is cool, and too much heat (Yang) can make you restless and wake up hot.
-If your mind is racing from a stressful day (or life), try to sidetrack it by visualizing yourself in a favorite place. Occupy your mind with filling in all the details of that place and then put yourself relaxing into the middle of the scene.
-Avoid caffeine late in the day. Alcohol and rich foods can also interfere with sound sleep.