The Various Types of Insomnia in Chinese Medicine

Insomnia is not a disorder; it’s more a symptom associated with poor quality or complete lack of sleep. However, it can create serious health consequences if not treated on time, impacting various aspects of life.

  • About one-third of adults encounter insomnia at some point, posing challenges to overall well-being.
  • Untreated insomnia can lead to extreme fatigue, diminishing focus, and decision-making capabilities.
  • Motor skills may be affected, potentially contributing to risky situations like drowsy driving.
  • The immune system weakens, leaving the body vulnerable to diseases.

In the search for an alternative solution, acupuncture emerges as a valuable solution against insomnia. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) deals with a classification of insomnia, distinguishing between true insomnia and transitory insomnia.

True insomnia encompasses challenges such as difficulty falling asleep, early morning awakenings, restless sleep with dreams and nightmares, or a complete inability to sleep. Acupuncture proves particularly beneficial in managing these conditions.

On the other hand, transitory insomnia is led by temporary factors like environmental noise, weather shifts, recent emotional disturbances, or lifestyle changes. Once these conditions normalize, sleep patterns typically return to normal.

Chinese Medicine and Insomnia

Did you know that acupuncture, as recommended by the World Health Organization, can help treat insomnia?

In simple terms, Chinese Medicine sees sleep issues connected to how our Heart, Spleen, Stomach, Liver, and Kidneys function. Blood, created from food, is controlled by the Spleen and stored in the Kidneys. The Liver stores and soothes the blood which is then transported from the Kidneys to the Heart for nourishment. If these organs are out of balance, it can lead to excessive fire and stagnation of Qi (the body’s essential energy), disturbing the mind and causing insomnia.

Irregular eating habits can harm the Spleen and Stomach, affecting blood and essence production and causing sleep disturbances. Anxiety and overwork can lead to blood exhaustion, preventing it from nourishing the Heart and resulting in insomnia. Conditions like congenital deficiency, sexual activity, or prolonged illness may disrupt essence transportation between the Kidneys and the Heart, leading to heart fire and disturbed sleep. Emotional depression can cause liver Qi stagnation, transforming into fire over time and causing insomnia.

In Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are used to treat these different patterns causing insomnia. Treatment aims to regulate Qi movement, restore harmony among key internal organs (including the Heart), and balance the cooling and warming energies (Yin and Yang) in the body.

Effects of Insomnia On the Body and Mind

  • Deep-seated emotions, such as prolonged anger, depression, or worry, can stagnate the liver’s qi, creating disturbances in the mind.
  • Overconsumption, whether excessive eating or drinking, leads to phlegm accumulation, transforming into heat and causing disruptions in the mind.
  • Yin deficiency in the kidneys, common among light sleepers, results in a hyperactive and restless mind due to the failure to calm and cool the heart.
  • Deficiencies in the heart and spleen, often seen in seniors or those recovering from illness, occur when an overworked spleen fails to nourish the heart, resulting in chronic insomnia.

In such scenarios, acupuncture for insomnia emerges as a powerful tool for restoring balance.

Treating Insomnia with Traditional Chinese Medicine, “Acupuncture”

While conventional treatments with prescription medications may have side effects or lead to dependency, acupuncture for insomnia acts as a natural alternative. Research from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health indicates that acupuncture treatments for insomnia can lower anxiety levels and enhance melatonin production, resulting in an average increase of 1.4 hours in sleep time.

Acupuncture by TCM effectively treats insomnia by reducing excesses and replenishing deficiencies, ultimately restoring balance within the body. This effectiveness is further amplified by incorporating supportive lifestyle changes.

These changes encompass maintaining consistent sleeping and waking schedules, avoiding the forced effort to sleep, integrating daily exercise, steering clear of stimulants before bedtime, establishing relaxation rituals, and consuming light meals at least three hours before sleep.


Take a step toward a holistic journey for improved sleep and overall well-being by consulting with a trusted Calgar acupuncture clinic or TCM practitioner. Enjoy the natural benefits of acupuncture for insomnia and enhance your path to restful nights and better health. Reach out to Dr Zhao to explore how his natural, holistic approach can contribute to your well-being.

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