Do you still toss and turn in the night? Do you have a hard time staying asleep or feel you do not get a quality sleep? Do you wake up and free foggy or with no energy? Do you worry a lot? If you answered  YES to any of the  above and or you have taken over the counter remedies and medication also but still not satisfied, then an alternative approach may be what your are missing.

What’s available as a remedy for those who suffer from lack of sleep in western medicine and in the western world?  Just over the counter remedies and prescribed medications. Many do not work and seriously, they really are not for long term use without consequences. Plus, you feel knock out and tired when you wake up. That is not real sleep and that is not quality sleep.  In the alternative arena, I look toward Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture for keys to the find the root of the problem. You really want to find the solution and not treat the symptoms or you are missing the boat. When you treat the symptoms, most times than not, you are doing nothing to enhance your health or lifestyle.Certainly, you are not productive. Bottom-line, people who get enough quality sleep are happy, healthier, people and they do not ‘prematurely age‘ as fast.

In Chinese Medicine, it is thought that if you are not sleeping well, then other organs systems in the body are not in ‘harmony’ and their QI (pronounced chee) is disturbed.  What is QI? It is the vital energy flow: When Qi does not flow- problems occur and when QI flows – problems disappear.  When the problem is treated, it enables the QI to flow again- freely.  Another analogy to think about is this…  your best friend that just gets you, you are in sync (qi)!  Back to the organs, in the body when they are lacking proper Qi, then not in sync… the result is your health suffers. In Chinese Medicine it is considered, disharmonious. Good Qi- healthy, Bad Qi,… i think you get the picture.

For those of  you who are curious what to know what organs may be involved or not, here is the scoop. First, the spleen. In western medicine the spleen is not paid much attention to and actually considered not an important organ, they say that you do not need it and in remove it without looking at the consequences. It is thought it is an organ, that ‘just’ filters blood. BUT- in Chinese medicine, the Spleen is VERY important and contributes to every organ. For good sleep to happen, the Spleen must work in harmony with the following: heart, liver, stomach, kidneys and intestines.

4 Ways the Spleen, if it is not in Harmony, Interferes with Body Functions

  • Directly effects digestion (a job of the spleen is to move fluid in your body and helps get rid of excess fluid. If you have a  puffy face, tongue, overweight or sluggish, then basically you are submerged in your own body water- what a visual)
  • Aids in digestion & proper Bowel Movement (stomach, intestines relies on the spleen to pass on the water and foods we ingest)
  • Governs circulation  (the spleen makes blood. If the quality of blood is affected its trickle effect down the line is poor circulation… cold hands/feet, lack of energy, sugar cravings, blood pressure and sleep problems).

If the Spleen is not balanced you may also experience the following: worry, poor concentration, day time fatigued, anxiousness, and performance anxiety with sex.

If the Spleen is nurtured, guess what- you sleep, think, move and feel better. Why? Because you body is now in balance.  What about the spleen? What does it do? The spleen is synergy with your blood and lymph system. It is a filter for the blood and takes out the old and replaces it with new red blood cells (rbc). It stores iron and also stores it in the bone marrow (hemoglobin is made there). It organ itself holds 8 oz of blood (emergencies). It is closely connected to the immune system and a defender of inflammation (the root cause of many illnesses and diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity).

What to do? How do you keep the Spleen happy? No, you do not have to take anything that has risk, has side effects or causes harm, like many drugs and over the counter remedies.  A goal here would be to tonify the spleen, tonify the qi, fortify the blood, and nourish the heart (chinese). When this is in balance it promotes the body to get into a state to go to sleep and stay asleep. You fall asleep easier, and wake up refreshed with a clear mind. A Chinese formula that is used frequently is Gui Pi Tang .Another, and this one I personally use is Suan Zao Ren Tang. Both have no side effects.  Although you can buy these online, I caution anyone to use these without consulting an Acupuncture Physician first. It is prudent in the event something else is underlining or masking a bigger problem that needs to be addressed making either of these products  not for you.  This is based on my opinion, with no intention to treat or diagnose.

On the other hand, if you chose foods as your medicine, the foods that would compliment this are but not limited to:

  1. Sweet taste, neutral, warm/hot food and also neutral to warming methods of cooking.
  2. Eating at least one warm meal a day and eating regularly for duration of two to three months.
  3. Warming foods are emphasized and cooling foods are limited,
  4. Well cooked rice, oats, spelt, mochi, carbohydrate rich vegetables like winter squash, carrots, rutabaga, parsnip, garbanzo peas, black beans, peas, sweet potato, yam, pumpkin, acrid vegetables like onion/leeks, spices: black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, small amounts of sweet rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, cherries, dates, small amounts of mackerel, tuna, halibut, anchovy, beef, beef-liver, kidney, chicken, turkey, lamb and butter.
  5. Avoid foods such as pineapple, oranges, bananas, kiwis, watermelon, lemons, cucumbers, cold salads, tomato, cold/ice drinks, excessive intake of mineral water, cold fruit juices (orange), black tea, green tea, wheat beer, cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, cream cheese and sour milk products.

So, if you find yourself waking up between 1 and 3 AM… then, it is time to make LifeStyle changes towards more restful and peaceful sleep that leads to a healthier, productive you. If you find you cannot do it on your own, hire a LifeStyle Medicine Strategist who can show you the fastest way to health!

Ask DrPat