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Which DAO Sleep Formula is Right for You?

By Eric Karchmer /

Which DAO Sleep Formula is Right for You?

Sleep is precious. For those of us who struggle with sleep, there is perhaps no other condition that is so corrosive of our everyday quality of life. Sleep challenges can be incredibly complex. Sleep issues can be a secondary to other diseases, such as asthma, cancer, heartburn, arthritis, etc. But it is commonly a primary condition, meaning that folks with disturbed sleep are otherwise healthy individuals. Although we think of challenging sleep patterns as a minor ailment, it can plague sufferers for years or decades. As those who toss and turn throughout the night know all too well, there are few satisfying options to deliver quality, uninterrupted sleep in conventional Western medicine. Ambien, the most popular prescription sleep aid, is quite effective at initiating sleep but has been associated with a host of side-effects, which has led to lawsuits against the manufacturer.

Chinese herbal medicine, by contrast, has the potential to profoundly delivery quality, healthy sleep, without side effects or addiction. The secret to the Chinese herbal medicine approach is disrupted sleep is always considered a condition of the whole body rather than merely the brain. Chinese herbal medicine therapies don’t simply “knock you out” or make you drowsy enough to sleep, rather they seek to correct the underlying imbalance that results in sleeplessness. In addressing the “root” of the problem, Chinese medicine therapies produce better, more restorative sleep and improved mood, alertness, and general well-being during the day.

There is no “one way” to treat disturbed sleep in Chinese herbal medicine because there is no single underlying cause. The DAO Labs Sleep Series, however, brings you two of the most effective formulas in Chinese herbal medicine: Mental Tranquility, which is inspired by Gui Pi Tang, and Physical Tranquility, inspired by Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. Both formulas support incredibly healthy, quality, long term sleep.

tian wan bu xin dan and gui pi tang

Which Formula is Best for You?

According to Chinese herbal medicine theory, the symptoms surrounding lower quality sleep are due to inability of the “Heart to store the Sprit”. But other organs and pathological mechanisms require healthy support as well. In order to select the correct formula and get optimal results, it is important think holistically examine all of one’s additional characteristics, even if you may have imagined them to unrelated to your sleep disturbances.

When considered in this holistic manner, Mental Tranquility and Physical Tranquility treat two nearly opposing patterns of insomnia. The descriptions are meant as a guide and indicate general trends. It is not necessary to have every characteristic or even a majority listed below. Rather it is important to focus on the pattern. Most folks will tend to fall in one category or another.

Suan Zao Ren

Are You Hot or Are You Cold? 

Mental Tranquility delivers better sleep if you find yourself more closely associated “cold patterns”; Physical Tranquility, is the opposite, delivering better sleep if you are more associated with heat: 

  • Mental Tranquility: possible symptoms caused by “cold”: aversion to cold, pale complexion, sluggish digestion, lack of appetite, loose stools, depressed mood, pensiveness, inability to focus, overly active mind at night, pale tongue.
  • Physical Tranquility: possible symptoms caused by “heat”: aversion to heat, tendency towards constipation, agitation and tossing and turning at night, vivid dreams and nightmares, sense of feeling overheated at night (perhaps kicking off the covers), thirst, canker sores and raw painful tongue, red tongue with little coating or uneven coating (known as geographic tongue).

How is Your Digestion?

  • Mental Tranquility addresses “Spleen Qi” deficiency and is usually be more suitable for folks with poor digestion, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and loose stools.
  • Physical Tranquility addresses “Kidney Yin” deficiency, which is usually associated with a lack of body fluids and dryness, possibly leading towards constipation (but not always) or frequently resulting in sores in the mouth. Because it uses yin nourishing herbs that can sometimes be hard on the stomach, this formula it is generally not recommended for folks with stomach problems (unless it is modified).

How Old Are You?

  • Mental Tranquility is more likely appropriate for individuals in their 30s or 40s. This is time when the everyday wear and tear of work and family life can finally catches up with us, leading to a QI deficiency.
  • Physical Tranquility tends to be a better fit for middle age or older individuals. A popular saying in Chinese medicine is that we exhaust our naturally acquired yin essence by the age of forty. A lack of yin will produce the symptoms of heat described above. These symptoms are probably more likely to appear in one’s 40s, 50s, and 60s.

Gynecological Patterns

  • Mental Tranquility: women who tend to have spotting at the beginning or end of their period on a regular basis are often Qi deficient. Mental Tranquility is a commonly used formula for this condition. It is coincides with sleep disturbances, it is usually an excellent choice for both. 
  • Physical Tranquility: women who are in menopause and experiencing hot flashes often benefit from this formula. If sleep irregularities are present, as they often are, then this formula is a particularly effective choice.

Using these four guiding issues, you should hopefully be able to determine which formula is best for you. Chinese medicine practitioners often rely on the “tongue exam” as part of their practice, and you might want to exam your own tongue in the mirror. Generally a pale tongue with a white coating of moss indicates Mental Tranquility; a bright red tongue with little, patchy, or no moss is a good sign that Physical Tranquility will be the better choice. Good luck. We hope that nighttime rejuvenation is just around the corner for you. 

Receive 20% Off Your Order with Promo Code "MTSLEEP"

Dr. Eric Karchmer is a practicing Chinese medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and co-founder and Chief Doctor of Chinese Medicine for DAO Labs. From 1995-2000, Eric studied at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and today is both a licensed acupuncturist and professor at Appalachian State University. Eric can be reached at drkarchmer@mydaolabs.com.

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