Sleep is something we can all agree that we need, but many would like to figure out how to get more of it, or at least better quality.
The way that Chinese medicine approaches sleep is how it approaches every health imbalance—it is unique for each patient.
For women, sleep can be affected differently within various phases of one’s cycle, and the same goes for the various phases of the physical maturation process throughout a woman’s development. Whether sleep is affected by premenstrual syndrome, premenopausal conditions, endometriosis, PCOS, endocrine imbalances, a new addition to the family (baby or furry friend), or partners that snore—herbs, acupuncture, and supplements are highly supportive in rebalancing a women’s circadian rhythm, allowing for the deep restorative sleep imperative for hormonal health.
Unlike Western medicine practitioners, Chinese medicine will never treat generalized sleep trouble or insomnia, but rather will work collaboratively with the patient to get to the root of the unique imbalance. While one woman might have insomnia due to menopause, what Chinese medicine would describe as ”yin deficiency”, others might have trouble falling asleep as a result of prolonged stress, or what a practitioner could diagnose as “Liver qi stagnation.” Whatever the root cause, Chinese medicine is akin to a supportive friend, always there to lend a hand, providing tailored, individualized treatments.
To get the support of a licensed practitioner specializing in the field of women’s health, reach out to Ballard Acupuncture Center today. We are here to support you at every phase of life.
Below are some general sleep hygiene practices that can support everyone’s slumber to some extent. However, like everything recommended for a general audience, it is important to consult a licensed practitioner for more tailor recommendations or treatments, especially if one’s sleep issues does not subside after applying the following suggestions to their daily/ evening routines.
Personally, I have spent many years studying, reading, and understanding how to get more, better, or at times any at all, sleep. Below are a list of tools I have offered to my patients over the years that have yielded significant results, improving the overall quality of their life.
While some of the following suggestions come from a variety of sources, I have found Dr. Mark Hyman MD’s recent publication “Forever Young”, has one of the most comprehensive lists, many of which I touch on below. Some of these suggestions, although perhaps applied right away, could take a bit of time in restoring one’s natural sleep cycle. Time, patience, and acknowledging that healing is a journey, can help prepare the mind in slowly allowing each of the below practices to become a part of a nightly ritual. Whether one simply needs to integrate a few of the activities suggested, or would benefit further from herbs, supplements, weekly acupuncture, and injection therapy to support the nervous system, at Ballard Acupuncture
Center we hope to continue to help all of our patients heal, grow and even more so, thrive in whatever the area of focus.
How to support your circadian rhythm naturally:
- 1) Practice regularity with your sleep/ wake routine. Try and make it a habit to go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. Although some days might call for a bit more celebration, staying as consistent as possible allows your body to organically adapt to the regular hours that you are training it to learn.
- 2) Use the bedroom and bed for sleep and romance only. While it is tempting to watch movies and work from our laptop in the comfort of our beds, similar to training a pet to obey specific house rules, teaching the body that bed is for sleep and romance alone provides the reinforcement needed in order for it to naturally drift at night, as well as dropping into quicker REM cycles.
- 3) Use red lights or red glasses at night to support the body’s natural melatonin production once the sun goes down. Over the past two decades with the advent of more technology and screen time, there has become an increased awareness around utilizing red lights in the bedroom to support sleep. Reason for this is simple—the light on our screens, and more common day-time fluorescent light bulbs, wakes the systems up. Where red or even dimmer orange hue lights, such as edison bulbs, helps to relax the nervous system and prepare it for rest by supporting melatonin production. Melatonine is the body’s natural sleep aid, a hormone that is produced each night to allow us to move from a wakeful state to one of rest. However, many people’s melatonin production has been compromised due to technology, city living, and even work schedules. Therefore, it is for this reason that using red lights or red lens glasses at night greatly assists in re-programming the body’s nervous system for sleep, even when the environmental odds are stacked against us. I have personally been using red glasses while reading each night before bed and can attest that after 15 minutes the book it’s generally closed and I’m eager to get some much need shut eye.
For more tips and hacks, come to Ballard Acupuncture Center and receive a roadmap to sleep hygiene with your first treatment!
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