Dr. Lori Horan Soule, ND, LAc

Soule Health Care

3526 SW Corbett

Portland OR, 97239


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Newsletter Archive

Sleep Disorders and Chinese Medicine

September 29, 2011

Cheryl woke up very tired every morning, and her most prominent thought all day was, "I cant wait till I can go back to bed." When she did go to bed, she was unable to calm her mind and it took many hours before she could fall asleep. She would finally fall asleep just a few minutes before the alarm went off in the morning. The cycle had continued for years.

In Chinese medicine, sleep, consciousness, and mental activity are seen as being influenced by different organs. If the organs are not able to perform adequately, sleep will be impaired, either by restlessness, fear, palpitations, or disturbed dreaming. The main organs involved are the liver, the heart, and the digestive system.

The liver participates in the sleep-wake cycle by properly circulating the blood throughout the body. If blood does not circulate adequately, one may experience vivid dreaming, depression, night sweats, body pain, and symptoms of PMS.

The heart is seen as the house of a persons spirit, which comes home to rest at night. If the liver has not adequately nourished the heart with blood, the spirit stays out wandering and the mind cannot settle down enough to sleep. When the heart is affected, a person may also experience symptoms such as pal-pitations and persistent anxiety.

The health of the digestion also contributes to the quality of a persons sleep-wake cycle. If there is a digestive weakness, as when food stagnates in the body, phlegm accumulates and clogs the body's energy pathways. This can create cloudy thinking, dizziness, sluggishness, and a host of digestive symptoms.

Of course, the list of outside influences that can contribute to insomnia is immense (work schedules, children, worries, etc.). Sleep disorders can also indicate important psychological issues which need to be processed. In Cheryl's case, her liver was the main organ experiencing distress. With a series of six acupuncture treatments and a Chinese herbal formula, her sleep improved, and to her delight, her PMS disappeared too. If you would like to learn how to treat your sleep or any other disorder using Chinese medicine and acupuncture, contact me for an appointment.

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