Sleep is one of the most important aspects of life and it is something that the average person spends about a third of their life doing. Just as every person differs, sleep is a highly individualized affair as well. Everyone can agree however that one feels awful if they do not get enough of it. Even if for some people 5 hours is sufficient and for others 10 hours is required to feel “normal”.
The perfect sleep:
In traditional Chinese medicine the perfect sleep is likened to a mini death. One should enter sleep easily and wake 7-8 hours later completely rested and refreshed having absolutely no recollection of any dreams.
Insomnia in Chinese medicine:
When a person suffers from insomnia, the two organs most often out of balance are the Heart and the Liver. Each of these two organs houses a specific aspect of the spirit. If these organs are out of balance, they will not be able to house the spirit properly, and the spirit will wander.
Blood reserves and sleep:
Sleep is dependent upon the amount of blood in the body. Blood is needed to help ground the spirit at night so that a deep sleep will come naturally. Pregnant women often remark that they feel calmer and I think that the increased blood volume has something to do with that. Dreaming in Chinese medicine:
Dreams are considered to be a continuation of over-thinking.
Highly fantastical dreams like flying, slaying dragons, nightmares, etc relate to the HEART. Rote, life-like dreams are usually related to the SPLEEN. I’ve had people tell me that they dream about alphabetizing things from work or just going about their day as usual busily performing tasks in their sleep as if the day never ended. Usually dreaming leaves people feeling tired in the morning.
In Chinese medicine all disorders are broken down into clusters of symptoms or patterns that help differentiate each case. Usually people exhibit a few symptoms from one or more pattern. The language is from traditional Chinese medicine and as you can tell may seem a little different than average American vernacular.
1) Liver depression transforming into fire:(people under long term stress)
Insomnia, irritability, bitter taste, headache, blood shot eyes, constipation.
2) Phlegm harassing the heart:
Insomnia, heaviness of the head, copious phlegm, distending pain, aversion to eating, belching, acid regurgitation, nausea, irritability, bitter taste in the mouth.
3) Yin vacuity with effulgent fire:(common in postpartum women, students, people who work late hours or have had a history of drug use)
Insomnia, irritability, dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, aching of the lower back, dry mouth, usually wakes in the middle of the night, heat in the palms or soles of the feet, forgetfulness.
4) Heart and Spleen vacuity:
Frequent dreaming, light sleep, difficulty falling asleep, ruminating before bedtime, dizzy spells, tiredness, listlessness, vertigo.
5) Heart and Gallbladder insufficiency: (menopausal women, people under stress)
Insomnia, frequent dreaming, tendency to wake startled, palpitations, prone to fright, shortness of breath, timidity, copious, clear urine.
Acupuncture and herbs can help target your specific pattern and restore rest.
Foods to help boost the blood:
Some foods are:
* red colored foods such as berries, cherries, pomegranate
* red meat in moderation
* floradix (vegetarian iron supplement)
Published by ancientcurrent
Laurel Axen Carroll is a licensed acupuncturist, board certified herbalist and a CD(DONA) labor support doula. Laurel currently works in Brooklyn, NY where she specializes in females reproductive issues such as fertility enhancement, pregnancy, labor preparation, labor induction and postpartum recovery.
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