It’s summer. The days are looooong. And that is a great thing, but did you know that it can affect your sleep patterns and your ability to get a good, restful night’s sleep? In fact, there are so many things that can affect your sleep – stress, diet, work schedule and even computer or smartphone use – that it can be really difficult to get as much sleep as you need.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend that school age children get 9-10 hours of sleep a night and that adults log at least 7-8 hours. But, there are other factors that can make even more sleep beneficial – factors like aging, pregnancy, previous sleep deprivation and sleep quality.

There have been numerous medical studies about the benefits of good sleep.

Research has shown that people who sleep only a few hours of sleep a night over a number of nights don’t perform as well on complex mental tasks as people who are well-rested (getting 7+ hours of sleep a night). Studies also show that adults who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night have a higher mortality rate than those sleeping 7-8 hours. So, all in all – sleep is good!

But, what happens when you can’t sleep? What can you do? How might acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help?

The good news is – acupuncture and herbal medicine have been shown to help improve sleep quality:

A 2004 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that acupuncture increased nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduced insomnia and anxiety

A 1999 study in Germany showed that acupuncture improved sleep quality and lessened insomnia

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using a variety of herbs to help promote good sleep and treat insomnia for thousands of years. Some herbs commonly found in Chinese herbal formulas for insomnia include:

  • Suan zao ren – Sour jujube seed
  • Fu shen – Poria
  • Zhi mu – Anemarrhena rhizome
  • Bai zi ren – Arbor vitae seed
  • Mu li – Oyster shell
  • He huan pi – Mimosa tree bark

It’s important to note that a licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner will examine the patient’s condition and health overall to determine a possible cause of the insomnia, instead of just treating that one symptom. An expert should take into consideration appetite, thirst, mood, tongue color and the quality of the pulse to customize a treatment regimen that is the best fit.

Happy sleeping!