Herbs for Sleep Disorders
Herbs for Insomnia and Restless Sleep
Chinese Herbs for Insomnia and Poor Sleep
There are numerous reasons why people sleep poorly. TCM roughly divides them into two overall categories: insomnia caused by deficiency and insomnia caused by excess. Chronic sleep problems or insomnia lasting more than a month are usually considered to be caused by deficiencies. Whereas occasional sleep problems brought about by stress and life changes are considered excess conditions.
Western pharmaceuticals are effective and appropriate for sudden excess insomnia caused by life stresses. Excess caused sleep disharmonies are temporary and will usually pass of their own accord. Taking strong pharmaceuticals for these conditions are for short periods of time, and chances for addiction to these drugs is minimal under these circumstances.
Deficiency sleep problems, on the other hand, are better treated with Chinese herbal medicines. TCM medicines are quite effective when the right formula is used.
Herbs used in the treatment of insomnia or sleep disorders are prescribed according to a TCM diagnosis and pattern recognition of the underlying cause(s)
Cause of Insomnia #1
Insomnia can be caused by Excess Heat from Constrained Qi . The spirit is known as the ‘Shen’. It resides in the Heart.
When Heat gathers in the chest usually due to stress or failure to ‘let go’, the ‘Shen’ becomes unsettled. We experience this as restlessness, agitation, or problems sleeping. During times of stress or separation, the free-flow of energy is constrained in the chest. Just as circulation cools, constraint causes friction, and friction causes heat. This insomnia either prevents you from falling asleep or wakes you at night, your mind is active, and you may feel warm.
Try a combination of Free & Easy Pills (XIAO YAO WAN) to help circulate the energy of the chest, together with Good Sleep & Worry Free Pills to nourish and clear heat from the heart. You can also try An Mien Pian (peaceful sleep pill)
For true Heat in the heart and upper body, a simple three herbs formula can be tried, this unique bitter formula doesn’t require boiling and its herbs can be steeped as a tea and sipped at to reduce the surging heart heat preventing one from falling asleep:
Cause of Insomnia #2
Deficiency Heat from YIN Vacuity
Common during menopause, this kind of insomnia is also caused by heat. However, this heat comes from a deficiency of cool (yin) rather than an excess of heat. You can try combining an herbal sleep rx like Good Sleep pills with ZHI BAI DI HUANG WAN.
Cause of Insomnia #3
Heart Blood Deficiency
This insomnia has a nutritional root. The quality of the blood is poor because the diet is poor or the digestion (Spleen qi) is weak. The poor blood fails to properly nourish the Heart (Mind).
If you have this insomnia, you may have difficulty falling asleep. You may also have fatigue during the day or you may have a digestive complaint as well.
Commonly used medicines include Good Sleep & No Worries Pill, GUI PI WAN when the heart is more affected and
SUAN ZAO REN WAN when the liver is more affected.
Cause of Insomnia #4
Disharmony Between Heart and Kidneys
This insomnia is caused by low essential energy (Kidneys are like the batteries of the body) leading to a disturbed Spirit (Shen). It can be marked by symptoms of vivid dreams or nightmares, heart palpitations or anxiety. Medicines used to treat this conditions may contain heavy mineral substances to Anchor the Spirit.
The most frequently used is TIAN WANG BU XIN DAN. You can also use AN SHEN BU XIN WAN or BU NAO WAN (Memory Pill) for this condition.
Insomnia, Anxiety, and Acupuncture
Insomnia, anxiety, and most sleep disorders are considered to evolve from "disturbed shen" meaning disturbed spirit. This is where the spirit, residing in the heart, is uncomfortable due to thoughts and emotions. Therefore, acupuncture treatment for insomnia focuses on the chest rather than the brain.
Acupuncture for insomnia is adapted to the pattern of each individual. Points are most often selected on the heart or pericardium channels, as sleep conditions usually reflect disturbances in these organ systems. This in no way implies heart disease in conventional Western medicine.
Many people who have experienced acupuncture for any problem are familiar with its sleep inducing properties, finding it difficult to stay awake during treatment, or sleeping profoundly well the night after treatment.
Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.