One of the most necessary aspects of a healthy lifestyle is refreshing, satisfying sleep. Many disorders and medications can influence our sleep, but rarely in a postive way. Oriental medical evaluation can sometimes help determine the nature of a sleep problem and the appropriate remedy.
Problems with the sleep cycle can present in various ways. Some people will find that they have problems falling asleep, and this can involve several mechanisms. Surprisingly, sometimes the patient's habits are creating the sleep problem, and the physician must teach a new set of nocturnal behaviors, sometimes referred to by experts in sleep disorders as "sleep hygiene".
Sometimes internal imbalances of the internal organs, known as the zhang-fu, can lead to sleep disorders. One result is a mind which never shuts down and is still active when the patient lies down in bed. Another can be a quiet mind, but the patient seems to helplessly await sleep. Disorders of the zhang fu or the channels can lead to awakening after falling asleep, sometimes at the same time every night.
Taking a good history and performing a thorough evaluation of the channels, the abdomen, the pulse and the tongue can help an Oriental physician determine the mechanism of disease and to formulate an appropriate treatment with acupuncture, herbal medicine, or dietary therapy.
Although modern physicians are rarely taught much about dealing with sleep disorders other than to prescribe drugs, even the type and imagery of dreams might be helpful to diagnose the particular sleep disorder. Unfortunately, most sleeping pills popular with physicians do not assist in obtaining physiologically normal sleep,
Disorders of the sleep cycle can result in patients being too sleepy during the day, a condition which can be dangerous if driving or performing delicate tasks or operating machinery is part of the patient's routine. Sleep deprivation can also result in conditions which resemble mental illness. Symptoms of decreased alertness or difficulty concentrating may be suffering from a sleep disorder.
In addition to acupuncture, a variety of approaches may be helpful in treating sleep disorders. In the case of a six year old patient who was awaking every night screaming, the use of an aromatherapy treatment based in the tradition of Sufi medicine eliminated the night terror the very first night. And, the condition has never returned. Fortunately, the mother in this situation was well motivated and able to carry out the suggestions which I made to address the underlying disturbance, so that the root of the problem could also be addressed.
In contrast to the standard approach of modern Western medicine: "Here, take this pill."; all the styles of Oriental medicine with which I am familiar, be it Japanese medicine, Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine, or African medicine, require a precise diagnosis and skilled application of the appropriate treatment to address sleep disorders. Almost always, there are other problems which a Western physician might not connect to the sleep disorder that will improve when the correct treatment is prescribed.
Dr. L.B. Grotte, M.D., was the first physician in Ohio to be board certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbology. He has studied Oriental medicine since 1972 and has practiced Oriental medicine in Cleveland for more than 27 years. Our small practice specializes in creating individualized treatment plans combining Western and Oriental methods. Call us at 440-461-7488 to make an appointment or visit our website for more information.