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Don’t Let Poor Sleep or Insomnia Become Your Worst Nightmare

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Lady with insomnia in Hinchinbrook and Liverpool NSW LGA needing acupuncture and herbal medicine to help her sleep
Get help with your insomnia

We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping and we all have varied sleep hours preferences. Sleep is important for the performance of daily tasks let alone our physical and psychological health. Studies show that between 10-30% of people suffer from insomnia.

Insomnia can include difficulty falling asleep, constant waking, inability to sleep, tossing, turning and restlessness whilst sleeping, dream-disturbed sleep, or poor sleep cycles. Western medicine treatment focuses on hypnotic sedatives which may result in addiction, dependency, and poorly affecting brain functioning.

Insomnia may be temporary because of sudden emotional upset or stress, noisy environment, screen time, eating late at night, alcohol or other stimulants, too hot or cold room temperatures, shiftwork. Once these factors are removed sleep may return to “normal”. We should also distinguish breathing or pain disorders causing insomnia. In some ways, insomnia may be seen as a symptom instead of a disease.

However, chronic insomnia suggests more complexities at play. Traditional Chinese Medicine treats these differently depending on the signs and symptoms. There are many types defined in Chinese Medicine, but we can examine two of the most common patterns.

A deficiency of qi and blood will cause the body to be unsettled during the period when the body and mind should be settling down. This type of insomnia is marked by the inability to fall asleep and calm the mind. People often wake with palpitations, anxiety or panic. Treatment would focus on building qi and blood to calm the emotions. Modern medicine often diagnoses this as neurosis, anaemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep apnoea or restless leg syndrome to name a few.

Severe insomnia, waking between 11pm-1am feeling hot and agitated, unable to fall back asleep, craving cold drinks, palpitations and concentrated urine points to a pattern of “heart-fire”, often caused by ongoing worry and emotional upsets if it is chronic; or shock or trauma if it occurs suddenly. Treatment would focus on clearing heat and calming emotions.

Making dietary and lifestyle changes together with Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture may be very beneficial in treating insomnia.

Adopting a good sleep hygiene protocol may also be beneficial. This includes establishing a bed-time routine with regular bedtimes, mild exercise, avoiding stimulants such as alcohol/caffeine/screentime/video games prior to bedtime, avoiding large meals before and adopting appropriate dark and temperature for the season. Mindfulness, meditation can assist with stress management.

Contact us if you need help with your insomnia or comment below if you have questions or commments.


MacLean, W (2018) Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine. 2nd Ed. Eastland Press Seattle.


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