Insomnia – Why am I not sleeping?

Insomnia – Why am I not sleeping?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulties falling or staying asleep. Most people have experienced insomnia symptoms at some time of their lives. At any given time around 10% of people have at least mild insomnia[1]. Anxiety and depression are the two most common causes of chronic insomnia. What’s more, the sleep deprivation can make the symptoms of anxiety or depression worse.

Commonly prescribed herbs and drugs for insomnia might work symptomatically but it is best to address the underlying cause of insomnia. Here is a list of commonly prescribed drugs and their characteristics.

What’s the disruptive pattern? Not falling asleep or waking?

Around 85% of our clients report sleeping difficulties on their initial consultation. Its either difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping lightly, waking early or having too many toilet breaks throughout the night!

As acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines work energetically to restore balance, the formula (both for Acupuncture and herbal medicines) is chosen to the type of energetic layer of the body involved in insomnia.

Classically we work with 6 layers of the body:

Yang: (more superficial) Yin: (more deep)
Taiyang (Urinary Bladder, Small Intestine ) Taiyin (Lung, Spleen)
Yangming (Stomach, Large Intestine) Shaoyin (Heart, Kidney
Shayoang (Gallbladder, Triple Burner) Jueyin (Liver, Pericardium)


Acute insomnia might relate more to Yang and chronic insomnia might be found more in the Yin layers of the body. So hence treatment with either acupuncture, herbal  medicines or Tui Na massage will address the imbalances in those area and assist the body in its capacity to heal and restore.

As a general rule, the Yang layers are more energetic (literally have more energy and less substance, compared to the Yin layers, they have more substance and less energy) and are hence treated quite easily and effectively with acupuncture, Tui Na massage. Insomnia that has been there for longer and had a chance to establish itself in the Yin layers might benefit from Chinese herbal medicines. With chronic conditions, the pattern has been established for longer and benefits from herbal medicines that someone (affected with insomnia) can ingest every day for a certain period of time.

Stress might be one of the main causes of insomnia

Stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances – affects all of us in a busy and not-stopping Western world. Stress can be a motivator but applied over a prolonged period of time, it wears out. It will affect our mental and emotional capabilities and disables our body’s response to exogenous pathogens (so more colds and lingering colds). If you feel stressed a lot, it might be a good time to address this not only by being reflective about it but also in finding solutions to reduce stress!

Some of our recommendations for healthy bed-side manners are:

Keep your bedroom free of clutter, clean and well aired.

  • Don’t watch TV up until you go to bed, even if you fall asleep in front of the TV
  • Have a walk, bath, meditation session or read before going to bed
  • Leave your stress outside your front door
  • Use good quality aromatherapy oils that are calming in your bedroom, either in a traditional oil burner or a diffuser (lavender, bergamot, Ylang Ylang and many more)
  • Don’t overindulge in alcohol
  • Have light evening meals and don’t eat too late (it will disrupt your body’s rest)

Everyone is different – the point is, you will find a recipe that works well for you as long as you give yourself the time and space that’s required to find the perfect solution. Don’t give up too easily, most sleeping pills have a high potential of dependency and will make your problem worse…

Here are some more awesome tips to set yourself up for a restful night!