Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and then not able to fall asleep again?
I ask because insomnia is one of the most common challenges people face at midlife. I help clients with it every day in my practice. Many people have trouble falling asleep, others have trouble staying asleep, and some have trouble with both falling and staying asleep. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) draws the distinction between trouble falling asleep and trouble staying asleep and treats each of these as separate problems.
The herbal formulas, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes recommended by TCM can make a big difference, often quite quickly. The key is getting to the root imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit and understanding how they show up in each person’s body. By doing this we can treat both the root cause, and the symptoms you are experiencing.
As I wrote recently in my post Fall Asleep Easily with Insomnia-Beating Herbs , there actually are three types of sleep problems I see all the time: trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, and not getting enough refreshing sleep. In the third case people sleep through the whole night but wake up tired (more about this in my next post). Here I’d like to provide information about herbs Chinese herbalists use in formulas that help you stay asleep.
In general these herbs are considered “spirit calming” because usually when you wake up at night something is waking you up. You may have to go to the bathroom, or you may be drenched with night sweats, you may be feeling anxious, may have had a disturbing dream, or even have heart palpitations.
Herbs that Help Calm Your Spirit So You Can Sleep the Whole Night Through
(This list is in alphabetical order because it is intended to be for informational purposes, not a recommendation.)
1. Biota seed (bai zi ren) is good for poor memory, nervousness, palpitations with anxiety, and night terrors.
2. Polygala (yuan zhi) treats insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, and restlessness. It promotes positive feelings.
3. Polygonum multiflorum (ye jiao teng) is good for irritability, dream-disturbed sleep and insomnia.
4. Ziziphus (jujube) seed (suan zao ren) treats insomnia, irritability, palpitations with anxiety, spontaneous sweating, and nervous exhaustion (safe for children and elderly people).
This first group nourishes the heart and calms the spirit.
5. Minerals like oyster shell, magnetite, pearl, amber, hematite, and fluorite are considered “herbs” in the Chinese materia medica. Their heavy nature makes them excellent tranquilizers and very spirit calming. They are said to “anchor, settle and calm the spirit”.
In TCM these herbs are usually not taken as single herbs but in “formulas” which are combinations of herbs that work well together. There are a variety of spirit calming formulas which consist of these herbs working in tandem with other herbs. Each formula addresses a specific TCM pattern. To find the right formula I match the pattern I see in your body to a formula that can help that pattern.
If you find that your spirit needs some calming or that you’re having trouble staying asleep at night, sign up for a free strategy session and let’s talk about what you can do to remedy that. In addition to the herbal formulas acupuncture treatments are excellent for helping you manage stress and for calming you down after an intense day.