About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

Are you an acupuncturist? For articles, tips, and support to help you grow your practice, check out...

Acupuncture Practice Insights

simple steps book
Better Health... Inner Peace

Names and identifying details have been changed on any person described in these posts to protect their identity.

Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

You need to sleep, but just can’t seem to drop off. Or maybe you fall asleep quickly, but wake about 3 am. and never get back. Maybe you’re one of those people who are wakeful and restless all night long, or one of the miserable who just don’t sleep at all. No matter what your pattern, insomnia is a drag. 

Being in good health depends on your getting a good night’s sleep. Your body resets itself, heals and rejuvenates while you’re sleeping. But what if you just don’t sleep well? Can acupuncture help you?

The following is an excerpt from my book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health on patterns of imbalance and how an acupuncturist would treat your insomnia:

If you visit a practitioner of Chinese medicine for a specific symptom, you might be surprised to be asked all kinds of questions, that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with your symptom. In fact, you may become impatient as your practitioner asks you about your bowel movements when you’re there to be treated for acne. However, for your practitioner to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, he or she must have a complete picture of your internal makeup. Your symptom is simply a manifestation of an imbalance, and to treat it correctly your practitioner will put that symptom into the context of a pattern in order to treat the source of the imbalance.

It is interesting that a single symptom can be a manifestation of very different patterns in different people. For example, three people may come to my office wanting to be treated for insomnia. The first, a busy executive, explains that he has difficulty falling asleep because his mind is racing when he goes to bed. He shares that he frequently feels stressed by his job, and when he gets home, he’s irritable with his family. He says he feels thirsty, and his face appears red. This man would be diagnosed with a pattern called a stagnation of Liver energy, which is causing heat and restlessness.

The second person to be treated for insomnia is a smallish woman who is about fifty years old. She reports that while she can fall asleep at night, she wakes about 3:00 am. with night sweats and has difficulty getting back to sleep. She also complains that she has a chronic dull ache in her lower back and that her knees feel weak. Her face is pale, but her cheeks are red. This woman’s insomnia is due to a pattern of depleted Kidney Yin.

The third person with insomnia is a woman in her thirties, who had surgery about six months ago for appendicitis. She complains that her sleep is restless all night long, and she wakes frequently. She also has heart palpitations, occasional dizziness, dry skin and brittle nails. Her face looks pale and drawn. This woman’s sleep problem is caused by a depletion of Blood.

All three of these people would be diagnosed with insomnia in Western biomedicine, and would most likely be prescribed a sleep aid. However, in the Chinese medical model, the only thing these three people have in common is that their imbalance is manifesting as insomnia. For each, the underlying cause of their insomnia is different from the others, and each would be treated with acupuncture and herbal prescriptions unique to their particular imbalance.

1 comment to Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

  • Anita

    Some of the most common menopausal symptoms for me and many other women are night sweats and hot flashes. For helpful hints to combat night sweats go to Help For Night Sweats. The tips have been a real lifesaver for many of my clients.

    Yes! If you’re waking up due to night sweats, wicking sleepwear can be a lifesaver. LJ