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7 Surprising Causes and Effects of Insomnia You Didn’t Know


1. Your thunder snore is disrupting your sleep

If you snore loudly during your sleep and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes you to repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. It affects over 100 million people worldwide. [1] Obstructive sleep apnea, one of the most common forms of sleep apnea, is caused by the relaxation of muscles at the back of your throat. Some complications of sleep apnea include daytime fatigue, high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems and even liver problems. If you or your partner are having bad sleep due to loud snoring, this is the article for you!

 

How can TCM help?

According to TCM theory, sleep apnea is caused by a deficiency of Spleen and Lung Qi and Dampness in the body. As such, we usually prescribe herbs and do acupuncture to nourish Spleen and Lung Qi and reduce Dampness in the body.

Doing acupressure massage, having a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight by exercising will help to reduce sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side and using a pillow of suitable height can also help to reduce loud snoring.

 

Acupressure massage at home

 

 

 

2. Insomnia can be hereditary

In recent years, researchers have managed to identify certain genes that may trigger the development of sleep problems. [2] As such, if your parents suffer from insomnia, you may be at risk of having it too. While insomnia isn’t always easy to resolve, there are still some effective treatment options available!

TCM is one of the most sought-after treatments by patients who suffer from insomnia. In TCM, insomnia is believed to be caused by an imbalance of Yin and Yang energy in our body. Some factors that lead to this imbalance include poor dietary habits such as overeating and caffeine consumption, extreme emotions such as anger, sorrow, excitement or exhaustion from activities such as intensive exercise.

 

How can TCM help?

Herbal medication and acupuncture are the two main treatments for insomnia. Herbs like Suan Zao Ren Tang and Long Yan Rou can help to nourish the heart and calm the mind for restful sleep, while acupoints like Nei Guan and Shen Men can help to regulate Qi circulation and soothe the mind.

 

Home Remedies for better sleep

 

 

 

3. Heat is the enemy when it comes to sleep

Have you ever been unable to fall asleep simply because the weather is too hot? Studies abroad have shown that people tend to have more trouble falling asleep in the hotter summer months when temperatures are higher. [3] This is because the body’s temperature follows the circadian rhythm, which dictates the body’s 24-hour behavioural changes. According to the circadian rhythm, the body sheds heat before it goes to sleep and continues losing heat until its lowest point near daybreak around 5am. As such, lower temperature helps us fall asleep more easily while higher temperatures keep the body awake.

 

How can TCM help?

In TCM, the body is not just affected by room temperature. More often, sleep quality is affected by a person’s internal body Heatiness. This refers to Heat accumulated in the body due to lifestyle and diet influences, such as eating too much spicy food, not drinking enough water and even stress.

The most common method we use to detect internal body Heatiness is by looking at the tongue. A red tongue usually indicates the presence of Heatiness, although this diagnosis is usually accompanied by asking other lifestyle questions. One of the most common sources of Heatiness is Heart Fire, which can be identified by the redness of the tip of the tongue. Heart Fire is caused by excessive stress, overthinking, insufficient sleep or sleeping late. To combat Heart Fire, we use cooling herbs like Chuan Xin Lian or Huang Lian and stimulate heat-reducing acupoints like Qu Chi. Bloodletting and Gua Sha (scraping) are also effective therapies to immediately remove Heatiness from the body,

 

Home remedies to reduce heatiness

 

 

 

4. Women’s hormone changes can cause insomnia

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), women are two times more likely than men to have sleep issues. [4] This is due to the fluctuation in hormone levels throughout a woman’s life, including pregnancy, menopause and the menstrual cycle. The female hormones oestrogen and progesterone have hypnotic effects on the brain. Progesterone in particular is a strong respiratory stimulant and supports airway function and breathing during sleep. As such, a fluctuation in oestrogen and progesterone levels is likely to lead to changes in sleep patterns.

 

How can TCM help?

TCM herbs and acupuncture can be used to help with symptoms arising from hormonal changes. Mood swings, stress or tension caused by hormonal changes are linked to Liver Qi stagnation in TCM. Herbs like Xiao Yao San and He Huan Pi can help to regulate the body’s Qi circulation and relieve Liver stagnation to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Acupuncture at San Yin Jiao can also help to improve Qi and Blood circulation and restore balance to hormonal levels over time.

 

Home remedies to help balance hormonal levels for female

 

 

 

5. Insomnia worsens with age

Some of us experience poorer sleep quality such as waking up earlier or more often as we age. This is because our body produces lesser growth hormone as we age, resulting in lesser melatonin and more disrupted sleep cycles. So how do we ensure sleep quality even as we age?

 

How can TCM help?

In TCM theory, insomnia caused by ageing is commonly attributed to a decrease in Yin energy, with some of the symptoms being waking up early and difficulties falling asleep (tossing and turning in bed). Herbal medication such as Jiao Tai Wan can be used to nourish Kidney Yin and reduce Heart Fire to rebalance Yin-Yang energy and promote restful sleep. Acupuncture at San Yin Jiao can also help to nourish the Yin energy in the body and restore sleep quality.

To boost effectiveness, traditional therapies can be accompanied by tech-enhanced therapies such as the Negative Ion Therapy which can boost sleep quality in older patients by regulating the autonomic nervous system and inducing a relaxing effect.

 

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6. Alcohol and a good night’s sleep don’t mix

It is a common misconception that alcohol helps you to fall asleep more easily. In fact, some sufferers of insomnia have a habit of relying on alcohol to fall asleep. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes brain activity to slow down. In other words, alcohol is a sedative that can help to induce relaxation and sleepiness. However, excessive consumption of alcohol has been linked to poor sleep quality and duration. Studies have even shown that alcohol use can exacerbate symptoms of sleep apnea and worsen insomnia.[6]

 

How can TCM help?

In TCM, frequent alcohol consumption can lead to Damp-Heat in the body, which will in turn impact sleep quality. To identify whether you have Damp-Heat in your body, simply take a look at your tongue.

 

red tongue

 

People suffering from Damp-Heat usually have red tongues with thick, white-coloured coating on top, which is also a sign of poor gut health. In our clinic, we commonly prescribe herbs like Huang Lian Jie Du Tang and Long Dan Xie Gan Tang to reduce Damp-Heat, promote liver detox and increase body metabolism. Auricular acupuncture is commonly used with traditional acupuncture to reduce patients’ reliance on alcohol.

 

 

 

 

7. Your stiff neck and shoulders may be the cause of your Insomnia

Are your stiff neck and shoulders preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep? Many people know that poor sleep quality leads to stiff muscles, but surprisingly, it is just as common for tension in the neck and shoulders to lead to difficulties in falling asleep. If you suffer from neck and shoulder pain, it is important to seek help as it not only affects your sleep quality but can also lead to other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure.

 

Also read: Understand And Relieve Your Back Pain With TCM

 

How can TCM help?

Acupuncture on points like Jian Jing and Feng Chi can help to immediately relieve neck and shoulder pain. Cupping and Gua Sha (Scraping) are also excellent at reducing neck and shoulder tension. Cupping is good for patients who have Cold-Damp constitution due to its warming nature, while Gua Sha is good for patients who have Heaty constitution due to its ability to reduce Heat. Patients with Cold-Damp constitution may feel tired easily and have cold hands and feet, while patients with Heaty constitution are prone to sore throat and mouth ulcers.

 

Home remedies to relieve neck and shoulder tension

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Did you manage to understand your sleep troubles better after reading this article? If you or a loved one is suffering from insomnia issues, we would like to help. Please contact us at +65 8742 2163 for a personalised consultation.

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This article is written by Physician Foo Shan Ju.

Physician Foo Shan Ju (Oriental Remedies Group, Singapore), a registered TCM physician certified by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board (TCMPB).

Physician Foo Shan Ju

Physician

Physician Foo graduated from the double degree programme of Biomedical Sciences and Traditional Chinese Medicine at NTU and was awarded the Nanyang and BUCM Scholarship for her outstanding academic achievements.

Since graduation, Physician Foo has been actively helping patients with injury/pain management, gastrointestinal issues and overall wellness. From her experiences, she has developed a strong interest in fertility, sleep disorders and pain management. Physician Foo firmly believes that every individual’s body constitution and conditions are unique and dedicates herself to crafting a treatment plan that is the most suitable for her patient.

Note: All words in Italics refer to the TCM organ-system and not the anatomical organ referenced in western medicine.

 

Disclaimer:

The content on this page is for information and educational purposes only. Such medical information may relate to disease, injury, drugs and other treatments, medical devices and/or health products. Medical information does not amount to advice, and if advice is needed an appropriate professional help should be sought. The disclaimer asserts that no warranties or representations are given in respect of the medical information, and that the website operator should not be held liable if a user suffers any injury or loss after relying upon the medical information.

Any devices used for technology-enhanced therapies are intended for use only for general well-being purposes or to encourage or maintain a healthy lifestyle, and is not intended to be used for any medical purpose (such as the detection. diagnosis, monitoring, management or treatment of any medical condition or disease). Any health-related information provided by this device or software should not be treated as medical advice.

 

References:

[1]: https://cpapsupplies.com/blog/sleep-apnea-statistics#:~:text=50%2D70%20million%20US%20adults,standard%20for%20sleep%20apnea%20treatment.

[2]: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1364661310000653

[3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5446217/

[4]: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/insomnia-women

[5]: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/4076430/

[6]:https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20130118/alcohol-sleep

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