Natural Therapies for Insomnia: Herbs, Massage Therapy, Energy Healing, Meditation, QiGong, Essential Oils & Ear Reflexology
Sleep disorders plague millions of Americans and can be attributed to a variety of causes. Perhaps the main cause of insomnia and restless sleep is the whirlwind pace that most modern people live with day in and day out. Our society emphasizes ‘doing’ much more than ‘being’.
In case you have never heard of yin and yang, these are the polar forces that are reflected in everything in the natural world. Yin is related to stillness, tranquility, and contemplation. Yang is related to movement, accomplishment, and function. We need yin and yang to be in balance within ourselves in order to experience true health and wellbeing.
When we are yin deficient, we easily become restless, irritable, and excessively busy. Our ability to rest and restore is compromised, as we never seem to get a break from the constant activity in our minds and our lives.
This is one of the main dilemmas that we face in terms of experiencing deep states of continuous sleep. We have forgotten how to turn our minds off due to the frantic speed of everything around us and we have become yin deficient.
The common word is stress, but there is a lot more to this picture than is implied. Another way to look at this is that the sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive. We are stuck in fight or flight mode, as we are trying to keep up with our hectic schedules and myriad responsibilities. We have excessive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline in our systems, which keep us feeling amped up and unable to rest.
With the pattern of yin deficiency and a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system, we often feel too warm, excessively thirsty, dried out, and anxious. This pattern is extremely common in menopausal women. Due to the fact that we are in fight or flight, we sometimes can’t tell if we are tired. We often feel wired or manic. Yet other times a deep-seated exhaustion is felt that penetrates into our bones.
There are many other factors that contribute to insomnia, but this is the primary issue that many people are facing. Other potential inputs are nutritional imbalances, suppressed emotions, relationship troubles, hormonal imbalances, and energetic imbalances.
Let’s take a look at a few of the top natural treatment options for insomnia:
There are many Chinese and Western herbs that can be very helpful for insomnia. Chinese herbs are typically used in combination to create formulas that treat specific patterns of disharmony. Western herbs are frequently used on their own. The great thing about herbs is that they don’t cause the drowsiness and disorientation that many of the Western sedative drugs do.
Here is a great list, and our Acupuncturist can help you make an appropriate selection.
- Valerian: Has mild sedative properties that help to relax the nervous system and calm the mind.
- Chamomile: Has a mild tranquilizing and calming effect that soothes all major systems of the body.
- Kava: A highly prized medicinal that is used to alleviate anxiety and induce deeper sleeping patterns. Kava is contraindicated for those with Liver disease.
- Gui pi tang: A Chinese formula that nourishes the heart and spleen, for insomnia with low energy, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and possibly night sweats.
- Tian wan bu xin dan: A Chinese formula that balances the relationship between the heart and kidneys, for symptoms such as insomnia, low back pain, anxiety, feeling of heat, thirst, and night sweats.
- Suan zao ren tang: A Chinese formula that nourishes the heart and liver, for insomnia irritability.
- An mian pian: A Chinese formula translated as peaceful sleep, for insomnia due to heart blood deficiency.
This is the ultimate way of teaching our body how to go into a deeply relaxed state. Through massage, our muscles relax, circulation flows smoothly, and our mind quiets. For insomnia, we recommend getting a massage once per week for 5-8 weeks to start making full relaxation a welcome change. We like to reassess at this point to see if continued weekly massage is still needed, or changing the frequency to a massage every 2-4 weeks would be of better benefit. The goal is to re-train the body to attain and maintain a state of pure relaxation and great sleep on its own.
Many people find light touch/no touch energy healing helps them to reach a mind state that is so relaxed it becomes a mentally transformed experience. In this altered state, it can feel like floating, energetic sensations throughout the body or in focused areas, and simultaneously being in a deep sleep while being aware of not being asleep. Medical QiGong Energy Healing externally re-balances energy (Qi) flow to assist in healing symptoms.
Meditation and QiGong:
Meditation – either still or gently moving like QiGong, is a deeply restorative practice and can replicate many of the benefits of sleep. In fact, meditation is often considered to be even more beneficial because it can lead to a state of non-thought, which is said by many spiritual traditions to be the deepest state of relaxation and healing possible for human beings. In sleep, our minds are still processing and dreaming. Spend 15 minutes before bed meditating and it will quite likely allow you to fall asleep faster and to sleep more peacefully. Not sure how to do this? We can teach you, and there are many excellent guided meditations.
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