Insomnia – How TCM can help?



Insomnia is a real and rising problem plaguing populations all over the world. A sleep survey done in 2016 revealed that the average Singaporean sleeps just slightly over 7 hours a day, and compared to other countries surveyed, Singaporeans sleep at a later hour at around 11.45pm. Globally, about 6 in 10 adults have sleep-related issues, with about 26% facing insomnia. Amongst these people, 60% face disrupted sleep due to worrying, primarily overwork, financial or economic issues. Moreover, the percentage of time in the deep sleep stage decreases with age due to various factors like stress, pain, illness and medical problems. [1] If this sounds like you, read on!


Singaporeans are one of the most sleep-deprived people in the world!!

What exactly is insomnia and why should we treat it?

So what exactly is insomnia? Insomnia is the complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep that interferes with normal daytime functioning. Some people may think that insomnia is mere difficulty falling asleep, but so long as you are feeling too tired the next day for your daily activities, you should consider other forms of insomnia you may have – waking up in the middle of the night with problems falling back to sleep or waking up too early in the morning. [2] Such poor quality sleep often leaves people feeling unrefreshed, lethargic, or groggy when they wake up in the morning.  

Many people have disregarded their sleep quality or the lack of sufficient hours, failing to realize the health implications that come with sleep deficiency. The short term effects of insomnia include poor concentration, stiff neck, changes in appetite, mood swings, headaches etc. Poor sleep quality over a prolonged period will lead to lower immune system and poor mental health function, and this combination may have dire consequences on our health potentially leading to cancers, diabetes, hypertension and hormonal imbalances. [3]


Short term insomnia, when neglected, can easily become chronic insomnia, which is characterized by more than a month of inadequate sleep. Once chronic insomnia develops, it will be more difficult to manage and restored back to normal.



How TCM can help patients with Insomnia?


Earlier on, we have shared lifestyle habits to avoid – 3 Mistakes You Are Committing That Prevent You From Having A Good Night’s Sleep to help you achieve better sleep. Here, we will be sharing how Insomnia can be treated using a conventional TCM approach.


1. Herbal Medication


Liver, heart, spleen and kidney are the key organs that we need to regulate. Symptoms like dizziness, migraines, fatigue, and forgetfulness are all symptoms associated with liver yin deficiency, liver and heart fire, spleen and kidney deficiency.


Other than identifying and treating the root cause of insomnia, the use of herbs like 黄芩Scutellaria baicalensis、茯神Poria cocos、肉桂Chinese cinnamon etc in the prescribed herbal medications can also treat some symptoms associated with insomnia like migraines, bad breath, poor digestion and obesity.


2. Acupuncture


By stimulating acupoints like 太溪、三阴交 etc. that can boost the liver and kidney energy, regular sessions of acupuncture can help in restoring and re-balancing the yin and yang energies essential for boosting the quality of sleep.


Due to the wide spectrum of symptoms and conditions that can be caused by insomnia, it is always more beneficial to combine both acupuncture and herbal medicine in the treatment of insomnia.



This article is written by Senior Physician Ng Mei Yun, with contributions from Senior Therapist Hannie Hong.


Place of Practice: Oriental Remedies Group

Founded since 2013, Oriental Remedies Group has attracted a dedicated team of bilingual (English and Mandarin) physicians with combined more than 50 years of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) experience and certified therapists, with the common goal of providing the best patient care to our patients by combining the best of TCM treatments as well as modern integrative protocols.


References:

[1]Straits Times. Straits Times. Straits Times. [Online] March 18, 2018. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/world-sleep-day-5-interesting-trends-about-zzz

[2] SingHealth Duke-NUS Sleep Centre. SingHealth. [Online] May 30, 2019. https://www.singhealth.com.sg/patient-care/conditions-treatments/insomnia

[3] Elsevier. ScienceDaily. [Online] September 4, 2008. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902075211.htm#targetText=Loss%20of%20sleep%2C%20even%20for,inflammation%2