People with sleep disorders may have difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia), obstructed breathing (sleep apnea), inability to wake up and fall asleep at regular times (delayed sleep phase syndrome), fall asleep spontaneously (narcolepsy), grind teeth (bruxism), enact REM phase violent dreams (rapid eye movement behavior disorder), and move legs while sleeping (restless legs syndrome).
Sleep disorder symptoms can be magnified by: Stress, congestive heart failure, neurological disorder, chronic/back pain, sciatica, environmental noise, and nutrition (stimulants and quick-energy foods).
Allopathic remedies for sleep disorders are grouped into three categories, behavioral/psychotherapeutic, medication, and other somatic therapies, which are typically aimed at symptomatic treatment. TCM, with its focus on treating syndromes as well as individual symptoms, is widely used to treat sleep disorders. Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tui na, and qigong can aid in sleep difficulties.
Acupuncture is particularly indicated for re-harmonizing a disturbed sleep-wake cycle and has a calming effect on the nervous system. It clears obstructions in the muscle and nerve channels and facilitates flow of qi. Common noted benefits of acupuncture include deeper breathing, better sleeping patterns, decrease in various pains that cause sleep difficulties. Acupuncture can reduce chronic pain that may exacerbate sleep disorders. Sleep difficulties may be caused by deficiency of endorphins; acupuncture can increase levels of endorphins.
Chinese herbs effective in treatment of sleep disorders (longan fruit, golden thread, mimosa bark, sour jujube seed) may be combined in formulas prescribed and tailored to individual symptoms. Tui na can improve flow of qi along the vertebral back region, reducing chronic back pain that may contribute to sleep difficulties. Tai chi or qigong exercises balance staying fit with staying relaxed. If frequent sleep difficulties or daytime fatigue occurs, treatment should be sought. For more information about acupuncture and Chinese herbs for treatment of sleep disorders, contact Dr. Richard Browne at (305) 595-9500.