When children don’t sleep well the whole family is negatively impacted. Tired parents lose their patience and function less well at work. Children who don’t sleep well are losing valuable time for processing and storing information, growing muscles, synthesizing hormones, and repairing tissues. School-aged children who are sleeping poorly tend to lose focus in school and eat more sugary food and junk food than those who sleep well. Kids who are chronically low on sleep are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, have ADHD, or wind up obese and/or with diabetes.
However, acupuncture, acupressure, herbal medicine, and other Chinese medicine modalities can help to adjust children’s nervous systems and other imbalances in the body that are leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep!
In the Chinese medical system there are a number of different syndromes that may cause a child to sleep inadequately. Sometimes the fetal environment and birthing process can create imbalances in the child that need to be resolved before deep sleep can occur. In other cases, children have diets that are not meeting their specific needs or they may not be in the type of environment that optimally supports their sleep. Some children retain inflammation after times of emotional distress or after vaccinations and need to have that inflammation cleared before they are able to reliably sleep. And still other children suffer digestive issues either from antibiotic use, weak digestion, or an inappropriate diet, that inhibits their ability to sleep deeply.
Your pediatric acupuncturist will observe your child, ask a number of questions about sleeping patterns, health history, diet, digestion, and behavior, and then look at your child’s tongue and feel your child’s pulse to determine what is causing the poor sleep. A manual exam of the body may also be done to help with diagnosis.
Your acupuncturist will then either briefly use hair-thin acupuncture needles to help with adjustments, or will use acupressure (pressing on the acupuncture points without inserting needles) combined with pediatric massage or cupping in order to restore balance to your child and calm your child’s nervous system. If appropriate, your acupuncturist may also prescribe herbal medicine to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, calm the nervous system, or other functions that will help your child to sleep better. Typically some results are seen after the first treatment although multiple visits are often required before fully restored sleep can happen.
Are you curious to try pediatric acupuncture to help your child sleep? Contact me to discuss whether acupuncture will be a good fit for your child!