Acupuncture and 8 Other Natural Solutions for Sleeping Problems
As a long-time insomniac, I sympathize if you’re not getting enough good sleep. It’s the worst of all the first-world problems. Well, maybe not as bad as racism or sex-trafficking, but it’s up there for sure.
My insomnia started when my “yin and yang” became imbalanced. “Yin-time” is night-time and “yang-time” is during the day. When we stay up late at night (all-nighters to finish school papers, partying, or working the graveyard shift at work, etc.), we run the risk of imbalancing the yin and yang of our body.
The organ systems that influence your sleep are your Heart and Kidneys, which represent fire and water.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concept of the Heart is more like your emotional Heart than your physical heart.
It’s the linking of your thoughts and mind with your ability to connect with others.
Trying to control your environment through thinking causes a Heart imbalance. Thinking (specifically, OVER-thinking) causes an over-abundance of Earth energy, which depletes the Heart's Fire energy.
If we’re not fully present around other people, too engaged in our own thoughts or our phones to truly engage with others, our Hearts suffer.
“True control comes from doing nothing.” – Lonny Jarrett (Nourishing Destiny)
Feeling too hot at night, imbalances that happen mostly in the summer time or get worse in the summer, chest tightness or palpitations, and insomnia may be from a Heart imbalance.
The antidote for excess Heart fire is water. The water element is represented in the Kidneys. The Kidneys are associated with the powers of concentration and focus, just as your physical kidneys have to concentrate the urine in your body to allow you to pee without problems.
The Kidneys’ focus comes from wisdom: balancing the usual routines vs. using imagination to come up with something new.
The balance between those 2 seemingly opposite ideas is wisdom: moving forward using instinct and intuition, and knowing what works and what doesn’t based on what you’ve done in the past. When someone doesn’t allow themselves to do the unknown, they remain frozen in fear, like anxiety, or they move recklessly into the unknown, which can also prove ill-advised.
“True power comes from wisdom which results from the cultivation of resources.” – Lonny Jarrett (Nourishing Destiny)
Natural Solutions for Insomnia
The Role of Nutrition
Comfort foods eaten in an attempt to fix your emotional Heart will ultimately cause damage to your Heart and Kidneys. High-carb foods (breads, pasta, crackers, chips, etc) and sugary snacks (wine, beer, soda, cookies, ice cream, etc) before bed cause your blood sugar to drop in the night.
When your insulin crashes at 2 am, you wake up with a start. It's a natural defense mechanism of the body to prevent you from going into a diabetic coma.
Certain foods are grounding - mineral-rich foods like root vegetables, seaweed, fish, organ meats, and water. It's not a bad idea to consider trying a food-based mineral supplement to see if it helps your sleep. I like Organically Bound Minerals and EZ-Mg.
Foods naturally high in tryptophan like turkey and whey protein are helpful too. Try some plain yogurt, whey protein, dates, or a handful of nuts as a bedtime snack. Or do like I do and combine all of them into a smoothie! A high protein snack will help keep your blood sugar levels more constant in the night.
You may notice your sleep gets worse on the full or new moon. If you haven't noticed, pay attention next time you have a bad night's sleep.
It's because the moon illuminates the discrepancies between your conscious and unconscious mind. What can you release control of in your life? How can you be better led by your innate wisdom rather than your fears? Are there habits or people that you'd be better without? If there's something you're doing in life that you feel "meh" about? Maybe it's not suiting you. Why fight the current? Go with the flow. Create ease in your life.
"If it's not a 'hell, yes," it's a "f*ck, no."
The moon affects our sleep also because of the changes in light. Be aware that using electronics (cell phones, computer, tv, etc) at night can stimulate this same effect. Turn off your devices at least 2 hours before bedtime, and keep your cell phone and all other bluetooth devices out of your bedroom. Or at least use airplane mode.
There are certain acupuncture points that help your body connect to your deeper emotions, purpose in life, and intentions to figure out how to get out of an unproductive cycle.
The needles help shut off the fight-or-flight system in your nervous system. You go into a state of deep relaxation, like rebooting your computer.
If you want to try something fairly safe on your own – try a cup of chamomile or passionflower tea before bed.
Other add-ins that are helpful for relaxation: catnip (not just for cats!), valerian, lavender, passion flower, and kava.
I don't recommend Melatonin for sleep. Melatonin is a naturally-occuring hormone in your body that signals it's time to go to bed. For most people with moderate to severe insomnia, melatonin just isn't strong enough to do much! Also, relying on it reduces your body's need to naturally produce it, thereby making the underlying issue worse. It's ok to use occasionally for jet-lag induced insomnia, but not much else.
Essential oils of lavender, chamomile, clary sage, blue tansy, or bergamont oil are helpful for relaxation. You can use a few drops in your bath water. Spray your sheets with a mist of oils dilluted with water. Try an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom.
Exercise at some point in the day. In other words, make yourself ready and looking forward to a long rest. “Earn it.”
Exercise doesn't have to mean hitting the gym or sweating profusely for one hour. It could mean a 20 minute walk around the block, going out to dance (and actually dancing, not standing around with a drink in your hand), or practicing some yoga stretches.
Schedule it - plan on 5 days per week doing some movement-based activity. Then do it!
Get Out of Your Head
Write down what you need to do tomorrow. Also, write down what you're worrying about, specifically.
A great way to get s**t off your mind is to write it down. …or type it into your iphone, whatever. This helps me immensely, especially when I'm super-busy. Once it's written down, I can forget about it for the night.
Something that helps me sleep better when something went "wrong" that day is to consciously forgive myself. Giving myself unconditional love and permission to f- up from time to time lets my mind relax. Remember - you're doing the best you can given what you know at the time.
Sometimes you just have to release the tension! With a partner or alone...
What about you? If you’ve had insomnia before, what has helped you get over it?
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