Insomnia is a form of sleep disorder where a person experiences difficulty in falling or staying asleep.
Symptoms also include waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recognises that insomnia stems from a fundamental imbalance of energy, or yin and yang qi.
Sleep is part of the natural rhythm of yin and yang qi in the body. Yin and yang qi play opposite roles – in the day, yang qi dominates as it fuels the body’s activities and keeps us warm and alert.
Some factors that cause yin and yang qi imbalance:
- Dietary habits such as overeating, heavy meals and consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
- Emotions such as anger, sorrow and extreme happiness
- Exhaustion from activities such as excessive exercise, or overstimulation of the brain
- Prolonged illness
- Old age
In TCM terms, underlying factors that contribute to the development of insomnia include:
- Liver fire (“heatiness”)
- Liver and gallbladder damp heat
- Heart qi deficiency
- Heart fire
- Spleen qi deficiency