Recently I met with a woman named Joanne who hadn’t slept through the night in over two years. Not once! She came to me desperate for help. After having tried a sleep study to see if she had sleep apnea (she didn’t), and after trying cognitive behavioral therapy to see if that could help re-train her mind and body to sleep properly (it didn’t) she thought she would try acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Joanne told me that her toddler had been born a little over two years ago and the poor child had severe reflux. He vomited his food frequently and had real trouble sleeping. He was colicky all the time and poor Joanne and her partner barely got any rest. However, after about six months, his situation improved. As her son started to sleep through the night, her husband also returned to sleeping through the night. She however just couldn’t sleep through the night even though she wasn’t breastfeeding or pumping.
Joanne’s pattern was that she could get to sleep ok, around 10pm, but she would wake every night at least once, and would wake from somewhere between 1-3 hours. She had also returned to work, so as a result, she was working full time with a severe sleep deficit from the first six months of parenting and also could not catch up as she was unable to get more than 4-5 hours of sleep per night.
At her wit’s end, after Googling potential solutions, she saw that acupuncture can help people with insomnia. We talked through her behaviors — how she had limited caffeine, had good “sleep hygiene” of turning off screens and lights in the evening, and tried to wind down and relax before bed. None of these helped her. She was also recently quite constipated — as of the last couple of months.
Based on her Chinese medicine diagnosis, I provided both acupuncture and Chinese herbal pills for her to take which would address the insomnia as well as the constipation. The following week, Joanne noted that her constipation was gone but her sleep was still very disturbed as her family had gotten norovirus. I again provided a similar treatment and continued her on the herbs.
The following week, Joanne came in and reported that she had slept through the night for the first time in two years! She was THRILLED. We did one more acupuncture session and I never heard from Joanne again. She now knows that she can come in for acupuncture any time her sleep becomes a problem again.
This was quite a rapid recovery from insomnia and not every case improves this quickly. However, acupuncture and herbal medicine can be fantastic tools for helping you to sleep through the night. Are you curious? Give me a ring to see if Chinese medicine is right for you!