Addressing insomnia with Chinese medicine

Getting too little or bad quality sleep can seriously affect one’s mood and concentration. It could also affect one’s health and longevity, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, mental health issues and other diseases. Insomnia, which is a form of sleep disorder, can cause a person to experience difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep or getting enough restful slumber.

Dr Yang during the webinar

In the webinar titled “Chinese medicine treatment for insomnia” (失眠的中医药治疗), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) Department of Chinese Medicine Dr Yang Li Shu shared insights into factors associated with insomnia and alternative ways to overcome sleeping problems. The webinar was jointly organised by UTAR Centre for Corporate and Community Development and the Department of Chinese Medicine via Zoom on 18 August 2021.

According to Dr Yang, Chinese medicine defined insomnia as “目不瞑” (inability to close eyes) and ''不得眠" (restless sleep). “Insomnia is mostly related to heart, spleen, kidneys, liver, and stomach,” she said. She explained how the dysfunction of these organs leads to insomnia from the Chinese medicine’s point of view. She also explained the varying causes of sleeplessness, which included mental health disorders, uncomfortable sleep environments such as excessive noise or light, physical illnesses, jet lag from travelling across multiple time zones, medication such as excessive intake of caffeine, and changes in sleep patterns that normally occur with age.

Dr Yang highlighting the things not to do before bed

Besides, Dr Yang shared some ways to prevent insomnia and improve sleep quality. “Sleep at the same time every day. No matter how late you go to bed the night before, you must practise a regular sleep schedule. Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sleep. If you feel hungry before bed, take a glass of warm milk to facilitate restful sleep. Remember to avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime. Practising moderate exercise regularly in the daytime can also improve sleep quality. You may also take a warm bath before bed,” she said. 

Dr Yang sharing herbal drinks and soups that can help improve sleep quality

Besides sharing the keys to promote good sleep habits, Dr Yang also recommended herbal drinks and soups for poor sleepers. For instance, a cup of chrysanthemum tea with goji berries can help clear heat and help nourish the liver. She also listed out the food that can harm the quality of sleep to avoid food-related insomnia. “Dunking your feet in hot water can also improve your sleep quality. It will help blood flow in the lower legs, encouraging the blood circulation of the body,” she said. She further shared some massage methods that could aid in the resolution of restless sleep and talked about the role of emotional reactivity in insomnia. The webinar then ended with a Q&A session.

Dr Yang sharing some massage methods that promote sleep

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