TCM Insomnia Treatment Theory

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective insomnia is strongly related to the Heart and Shen. The Shen can be thought of as ones overall psychological state and the Heart is responsible for "housing the Shen." A disruption in the ability of the heart to hold the shen or an aggravation of the Shen itself can lead to the signs and symptoms of insomnia - overthinking, restlessness, etc. There are three main meridian systems which often contribute to the disruption of the heart and Shen, they are:

  • The Liver system, is disrupted by excessive stress and/or anger, fatty foods and alcohol. These factors lead to heat in the Liver which can rise up, disrupt the heart and Shen and lead to restlessness and irritability, possibly even violent nightmares.
  • The Spleen system, is disrupted by a poor diet, late-night eating and excessive worry and overthinking. As the Spleen is responsible for Blood production and the Blood of Chinese medicine nourishes the Heart and Shen, one may experience sleeping issues at night.
  • The Kidney system, is disrupted by anxiety and fear, overworking and poor sleep. The Kidneys play a large role in the Yin aspect of the body - it's receptive and calming nature. When the Yin of the body is depleted, the heat of the body will be stronger and one may experience sleeping problems with night sweats, for example.

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