Insomnia is a common clinical sleep disorder that affects approximately 12% to 20% of the general adult population in the United State. It is a subjective experience characterized by difficulty falling asleep or difficulty maintaining sleep, or frequent awakenings and difficulty returning to sleep after awakenings. It will lead to the decline of physical functions such as daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating and remembering, and changes in mood—irritability, anxiety and depression, which may lower the quality of life.
Insomnia can be grouped into primary and secondary, depending on whether the matter is judged to be caused by another medical or mental disorder or medication use. Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder not attributable to a medical, psychiatric or environmental cause. The etiology and pathophysiology of insomnia involve genetic, behavioral, environmental and physiological factors. Risk factors include stress, depression, female sex, older age, medical and mental disorders, and rotating shifts.
The goals of insomnia treatment are to improve the quantity of sleep, to reduce the distress and anxiety associated with poor sleep, and to improve daytime function Generally, insomnia can be treated with cognitive behavioral and medical strategies. Behavioral therapy include learning healthy sleep habits, relaxation and worry-reduction strategies, restricting time spent in bed, establishing a regular wake-up time, etc. There are several medicines that are effective for treating insomnia, including sleeping tablets and other sedatives. However, many doctors do not recommend relying on sleeping drugs for long-term use. It is not only because sleeping pills cannot cure insomnia fundamentally, but also because they may bring about lots of adverse side-effects or lead to dependence or addiction for an extended period of use.
Considering the limited effect of the above strategies, finding a more effective and nature therapy to cure insomnia is necessary and urgent. Fortunately, acupuncture, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is qualified for this tough task.
According to the theories of TCM, the quantitative and qualitative aspects of sleep closely associate with the mind of Heart. When the mind is not tranquil, insomnia happens. However, there are many factors that may disorder the mind of Heart and lead to insomnia, such as over-worry that damages Spleen Yang, long illness that leads to empty of Kidney Fluid, or being frightened that result in deficiency Heart Blood.
Moreover, the meridian system around the body includes twelve meridians, fifteen collaterals, and eight extra channels. This system spreads over both the internal organs and surface of the body, and closely collected with the flow of Qi and Blood. Thus, by inserting the needles into specific acupoints can stimulate the meridian system, promote the flow of Qi and Blood, and coordinate the function of Zangfu (including Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs, Kidney, Stomach, etc.).
The effect of acupuncture on insomnia is certain. A majority of patients can fortunately be cured if they receive early and proper acupuncture treatment. Others can also be relieved even if they fail to follow the regular acupuncture treat-plan.