There may be an obvious causative factor leading to poor sleep such as drinking too much coffee late at night or too much visual stimulation from video games or the TV. In these cases it is easy to rectify the situation. Muscular pain can also lead to sleeping problems if the pain is worse at night. In other cases the cause is not so obvious and a detailed consultation is needed to produce an accurate diagnosis.
The term ‘insomnia’ covers a number of different problems such as inability to fall asleep easily, waking up during the night, sleeping restlessly, waking up early in the morning and dream-disturbed sleep.
Everyone suffers from sleeplessness at some time. However when this condition continues as insomnia it can be hugely debilitating, leading on to tiredness, inability to concentrate, mood changes etc. At this time, it can start to impinge on work or relationships creating more stress and anxiety which causes further stress and perpetuates the problem.
Rather than attempting to sedate like western sleeping pills, Chinese medicine seeks to find the cause of the insomnia and treat it from the root. By discerning what the actual problem is, whether that be inability the to fall asleep, restless sleep, nightmares etc, this and other observations allow the practitioner to distinguish how the body has become imbalanced. Appropriate treatment can then be administered.
The treatment of insomnia may often involve looking into various areas of a persons life; diet, exercise, work and home stresses, and constitutional factors can all have an effect on sleep patterns. Lifestyle changes can often have a dramatic effect.
In my clinical experience, many patients experience a good improvement in their sleep pattern even if this was not the condition that treatment was sought for!