Three TCM Tips For Insomnia

Lack of sleep can seriously affect our mood, mental concentration and health. Traditional Chinese Medicine offers some insight into treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. When a TCM practitioner is gathering information to put together a treatment plan, the pattern of the sleep disturbance as well as health and lifestyle issues will all be taken into consideration.  

You might have heard the term “calm the shen” spoken by your practitioner. “Shen” is best translated as the spirit of a person in a non- religious sense. When evaluating Shen, a TCM practitioner is looking for the emotional/mental state and presence (or lack) of radiance, calm and balance. Often with sleep disturbanc-es, a patient will be experiencing patterns of stress, anxiety or agitation. Chinese medicine calls this “disturbed shen.” If you experience insomnia from time to time, consider these tips to calm the shen for better sleep.

1. Give yourself an acupressure massage. An acupressure point called anmian, which translates to “peaceful sleep,” is used to treat insomnia. Locate the point behind your ear, between the ear and the base of the skull, where there’s a slight depression next to a bone called the mastoid process. Place your finger on this depression and apply pressure in a circling motion to massage it. After circling 100 times, you should feel more relaxed and ready to sleep.

2. Soak your feet in warm water. Massaging your lower legs and feet encourages the blood to flow away from an overstimulated brain. So too does a foot soak. Find a plastic tub with space for both feet, and fill it with warm water. Fresh or powdered ginger can reinforce the body’s warming energy, so add some to the tub if you tend to have cold extremities Remove your feet from the water once you start to feel a slight sweat, which indicates that the body’s stagnant energy channels are no longer blocked.

3. Practice deep abdominal breathing in bed. From the TCM perspective, when we feel anger or frustration we’re experiencing an outburst of heat in the liver. Emotional turmoil agitates the body and causes chi to stagnate, which can impair the body’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. That’s why it’s important to calm your mind before going to sleep. Calm your mind and body with deep abdominal breathing. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale deeply into the lower abdomen, relinquishing any unpleasant or worrying thoughts. Then your mind and body will be ready for a good night’s sleep