The Seasonal Shift & Its Relationship to Insomnia

by Emily Bartha, LAc, MSAOM |

The Seasonal Shift & Its Relationship to Insomnia

How does the seasonal shift lead to insomnia? And how can acupuncture help?

When the seasons shift, there is often a shift in our sleep patterns. In the clinic we have been noticing a lot of our patients coming in with complaints of restless nights or overly active dreaming/nightmares.  Under the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this occurs because we are moving from a season of Yin energy (fall and winter) to a season of Yang energy (spring and summer).  

Acupuncture and the complete system of Chinese medicine can help you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep, and not wake up groggy or overly alert in the morning.   Try these acupressure on these two points to get a more restful night’s sleep!  

shen men acupressure point

Heart 7 - Shen Men

This point is translated as “Spirit Gate” and is a powerfully calming point. Find it on the crease of your wrist on the pinky side. Use the opposite pointer finger and thumb to pinch the area. Find a tender spot and hold the pressure for 30-60 seconds.

three yin intersection Spleen 6 - San Yin Jiao

This point is translated as “Three Yin Intersection” as the three most yin channels of the body intersect here. Find it on the inner side of your lower leg, around 2 inches above the medial malleolus in a tender depression that is posterior to the medial border of the tibia.  Again hold this tender spot for 30-60 seconds.

I really love these points because they are so clinically effective with research to back it up! Studies have shown that the combination of acupuncture points Heart 7 and Spleen 6 work on the GABA pathways and increase the amount of GABA in cerebrospinal fluid of the brain. (1) GABA is known to have an inhibitory effect on the brain and is one of the main neurotransmitters involved in sleep.  An increase in GABA will quiet the CNS prior to sleep.

Need more help with your sleep? Regular acupuncture and herbal medicine can help! Book an appointment today to get a customized treatment to help you sleep better!  

Shergis, J., Xiaojia, N., Jackson, M. etc al. “A Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Sleep Quality in People with Insomnia.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 26, June 2016, pp. 11–20.,

Emily is an NCCAOM Board Certified Acupuncturist and Herbalist with a focus on chronic pain, orthopedics and sports medicine. She is recognized as a Top Acupuncturist in Portland by Portland Monthly in 2020. She has over five years of experience working in an integrative healthcare environment — including a sports medicine clinic, an interdisciplinary pain management clinic and a teaching clinic. She is a member of Oregon Ballet Theatre's Allegro Society, acting as the acupuncturist for the ballet company’s dancers.

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