Sleep is essential for good health and wellbeing throughout our lives. Getting enough sleep at the right hours can not only protect quality of life and help us function effectively throughout the day, but more importantly, it will protect your mental and physical health.

Much healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels occurs whilst we are asleep. If we do not get enough of it, your risk of developing several chronic health problems raises. These include cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke1.

The immune system also depends on sleep to stay optimal. Sleep deprivation will lower your immune system and compromise how well you are able to fight off infection2.

Sleep deprivation can also increase your risk of obesity. Sleep maintains a healthy balance of ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and leptin (the hormone that makes you feel full). Lack of sleep has been linked with increased levels of ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin. This makes you feel hungrier than when you are well rested. It can also alter glucose metabolism by interfering with the hormone insulin and can decrease energy expenditure. These link little sleep with increased risk of obesity and diabetes3.

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, affecting approximately 9-15% of the population4. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is fantastic in the treatment of such sleep disorders.

Randomised controlled trials have found Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) to be significantly effective in the treatment of insomnia 5 6. The Chinese herbal formulas, Suan Zao Ren Tang and Xiao Yao Tang have been found to have anxiolytic and sedative effects7 8, further more, some of the ingredients (Suan Zao Ren, Chuan Xiong, Chai Hu and Dang Gui) can act on GABAA (target receptor for benzodiazepine drugs – commonly prescribed drug for insomnia) and dopamine receptors9 10.

Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) can also be used effectively alongside existing medication for insomnia. A study compared CHM plus Western medication with Western medication alone, (medication used was a benzodiazepine drug derivative, estazolam at 1 mg/day). It was found that the combination of CHM with the medication was significantly more effective immediately after treatment than the group receiving medication alone11.

Not only is CHM very effective for the treatment of insomnia, but studies have indicated that it is also safer. A meta-analysis of 19 studies which compared CHM with Western medication showed that Western medication was more likely to have adverse events (sixteen studies were comparing CHM to benzodiazepine, two used trazodone and one with methaqualome)12.


Further References:

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21