The Seasonal Shift, Its Relationship to Insomnia, & Acupressure

by Emily Bartha, LAc, MSAOM |

The Seasonal Shift, Its Relationship to Insomnia, & Acupressure

How does the seasonal shift and time changes lead to insomnia? And how can acupuncture help?  These are questions we address in Chinese Medicine several times a year. 

When the seasons shift, there is often a change in our sleep patterns. In our acupuncture clinic, when we adjust our clocks, we often notice many of our patients coming in with complaints of restless nights or overly active dreaming and in some cases, nightmares.  Under the lens of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, this occurs because we are moving from a season of Yin energy (fall and winter) to a season of Yang energy (spring and summer) - and vise versa in the autumn season.  

Acupuncture along with complete treatment of Chinese medicine will let you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and not waking up dizzy or staying high alert in the morning.  While we always recommend acupuncture, you can also experience some of the benefits on your own through the practice of acupressure. 

As we adjust our clocks, we recommend trying these acupressure points to get a more restful night’s sleep and adjust to the seasons. 

Heart 7 - Shen Men: The "Spirit Gate"

shen men acupressure point
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. . Locate a tender area and apply pressure for 30-60 seconds.

three yin intersection

This point is described as the “Three Yin Intersections” because three main yin channels of the body meet 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 press this tender area for 30-60 seconds.

How the Two Points Interact to Help You Sleep Better

Research suggests that a combination of acupuncture points that is Heart 7 and Spleen 6 work on the "GABA pathways" and increase the quantity 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 decrease the CNS before sleeping.

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!  

are Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations  from a healthcare provider.  This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease.  That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options.  If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on

(1)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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