Throughout the pandemic, disruptions to sleep caused by anxiety, stress, and uncertainty have been a constant. And for many, the sleepless nights continue. Whereas the western options that many often turn to for sleep support such as melatonin and other prescription sleep aids, Traditional Chinese Medicine offers solutions that help provide more consistent, higher quality sleep without the side effects such as brain fog and next day physical and mental hangovers.
Below are five recommendations that you can practice at home, both before you head to bed and while transitioning to sleep, that should allow your body to more natural fall asleep and more importantly, stay asleep.
1. Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbal medicine provides solutions when other options fail, and there's no more true a condition than that of sleep. Unlike prescription sleep aids, many of which now carry "black box" warnings from the FDA (and which in essence "sedate" one's central nervous system), or melatonin which can often times lead to a mental hangover and only helps transition to sleep, Chinese herbal solutions help one stay asleep throughout the night.
DAO Labs offers two different Sleep Remedies, depending on the type of non-sleeper you are:
- Mental Tranquility: For the stressed, anxious sleeper who finds themselves laying awake at 2 AM, focusing on lists of things to do rather than sleeping soundly.
- Physical Tranquility: For those who sleep hot and physically agitated under the covers. This formula is ideal for those who often find their pillow damp and hot, and also for women experiencing symptoms related to menopause.
Both formulas are non-habit forming, based off classic Chinese medicine formulas that have been used for hundreds of years, and are customer favorites for their ability to transform sleep, and deliver mental strength and stamina the next day.
2. Apply this Acupressure Point
There's a tiny spot where the base of your hand meets your wrist that many Acupuncturists claim holds the key to better sleep. And the good thing for you - needles aren't required. Acupressure involves gently massaging the spot where an Acupuncturist might otherwise place the needle, but it solicits the same response within your body.
To help your body transition to sleep, you'll want to gently apply pressure to spot "Heart 7" (the technical term) which is located at the base of your wrist. As you lay in bed, simply press, hold, and release - several times. You can switch between wrists, but in essence, you'll want to focus your mind and breathing as you do this. The benefits will be to help your body naturally relax, and direct your "shen" to transition to sleep.
3. Listen to this Qi Gong Inspired Meditation in Bed
Qi Gong is beautiful meditative process that blends breathe and movement. For this exercise, you won't be moving, but rather focussing on your breathing patterns to slow your mind, body and spirit.
As you apply the acupressure discussed above, listen to this 10 minute meditation written by California-based Qi Gong master Nick Loffree. It's equally helpful for a mid-day moment of mental zen.
4. Make These Dietary Adjustments
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, most aspects of your overall health start with your digestive health. A healthy gut helps most other aspects in your life run smoother, and this includes your sleep patterns as well.
As part of your journey to better sleep, consider following a diet that helps keep Chinese medicine practitioners call "your Middle Burner" (in essence your kidney, spleen, and stomach) healthy and warm. This can be accomplished by reducing your intake of foods that are cooked as opposed to "raw", and those with ingredients considered "warming" like ginger and mint.
As a primer, consider the "Middle Burner Diet" by DAO Labs which you can download below.
5. Get to the Root Cause: Show Us Your Tongue
No appointment with an Acupuncturist is complete without a review of your tongue - seriously. Consider this: Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that's visible to the naked eye, and from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, offers invaluable insight into your health - and your sleep! Simply fill out this questionnaire and snap a photo of your tongue and we'll have one of our practitioners review it and let you know why you're not sleeping.
Final Thoughts & More Learning
Sleep is incredibly important - and complex. A Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to most aspects of health is radically different, and well beyond the scope of five tips. If you're interested in learning more, consider these resources:
- Acupuncturist Hannah Fries, LAc takes a deeper dive into a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to sleep in this fascinating article. You'll learn some key terminology and also understand how and why Chinese medicine can yield results that western medicine cannot.
- Want to speak with an Acupuncturist? Schedule a Virtual Consultation with one of our Acupuncturists who will take a deeper dive into your health and wellness goals, and take a deeper dive into your sleep needs.