Scottsdale Acupuncture


The Insomnia Epidemic

Posted Thursday, October 10th, 2013 by

insomnia, epidemic, scottsdale, acupuncture

Insomnia is commonly defined as a sleep disorder that is characterized by a difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia primarily have one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty falling asleep; waking up too early in the morning; waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep; feeling tired upon waking.

According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10-15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia. People who have trouble sleeping every night without exception for months or years are fairly rare. More often, people experience chronic-intermittent insomnia, which means difficulty sleeping for a few nights, followed by a few nights of adequate sleep before the problem returns. [link]

A study performed by the CDC which sampled the population from 2005 – 2010 found that about 4% (or about 9 million adults) used prescription sleep aids in the past month. [link] With such a high percentage of the population reportedly experiencing acute and chronic insomnia, it is no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry has readily supplied over-the-counter drugs as well as prescription pharmaceuticals to combat this epidemic.

It is common knowledge that getting enough quality sleep is essential to maintaining good physical and emotional health. When the human body lacks adequate sleep, homeostasis is affected, creating an imbalance allowing disease and illness to take place. Without the immune system (and all other systems) at full strength the body becomes extremely vulnerable, affecting the entire being.

The western medical approach is to alleviate the symptom that will provide immediate – and often short lived – relief, to the person suffering from insomnia. Most pharmaceuticals that are developed to combat insomnia have a laundry list of side effects and dosages will usually need to be increased as the body becomes dependent. This can create a dangerous situation of dependency at times resulting in addiction.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a different approach when dealing with insomnia, one which looks at the core issue(s) which are creating the symptom(s). By viewing the patient holistically, combining acupuncture and Chinese herbs as well as using differential diagnosis, it becomes possible to discover and tend to the root of the problem, whether that is one of excess or deficiency.

When a situation such as insomnia is categorized as excess there is a condition of heat or fire that is creating the symptoms. This type of diagnosis can be differentiated as either excess fire or deficient fire and range from Heart heat or Liver fire to Heart yin deficiency or a disharmony between the Heart and Kidney. Each different pattern will produce unique symptoms and will be addressed uniquely.

When a patient suffering from insomnia is diagnosed with a deficiency condition there is commonly a lack of vital substances that could include: blood, Qi or yin. These specific substances have both physical and energetic qualities that are well defined within the Traditional Chinese Medicine paradigm and are essential for balance and well-being. This specific type of diagnosis can range from Heart blood deficiency, Heart and Spleen deficiency and Heart and Gall Bladder deficiency. As with the excess patterns each different diagnosis requires a specific treatment method.

So the question you might be asking yourself might be: “Why should I used Traditional Chinese Medicine to resolve my insomnia when I could just go the pharmacy and buy some over the counter medications?” The most concise answer I could provide is that instead of addressing the symptoms that will return as soon as the medications wear off, let’s look at the core issue that is causing the symptoms. Once we resolve the primary disharmony, we can fully eliminate the condition it is causing.

On a personal note, before I started receiving acupuncture treatments and taking herbs, I experienced severe insomnia. I would lie in bed for hours tossing and turning waiting to fall asleep. At times my mind would race with all different types of thoughts; at other times my mind would be blank yet I still couldn’t get sufficient sleep. I visited a doctor who prescribed sleep medication that did help me get to sleep, but I then experienced a wide range of side effects. After a few weeks I needed to increase the dosage so I could get the same amount of sleep. Never did I wake up feeling fully rested. After I started getting treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, my sleep gradually improved. It didn’t take as long for me to get to sleep, and when I awoke I felt much better. Within a few months of treatment, I was able to get a solid 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which I found to be quite an accomplishment.

If you decide that you are “tired of being tired” and are ready to address the root cause of your insomnia, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help you feel better.