Updated: Feb 6
Insomnia is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Insomnia can occur at any age, but it is particularly common in the elderly. It can be short term (lasting up to three weeks) or long term (longer than 3 weeks). Insomnia can lead to memory problems, depression, irritability an increased risk of heart disease and automobile related accidents. Sleeping pills can help insomnia but may lead to substance dependency if used regularly for an extended period. Here are some of our clinical tips for insomnia treatment:
Supplements, Herbs & Aromatherapy
Melatonin: is an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement to help overcome insomnia. The body naturally produces melatonin, releasing it into the bloodstream in increasing amounts starting at dusk and tapering off toward the morning. With aging, melatonin decreases and the biological clock does not run properly; the elderly will see a greater benefit from using melatonin. Normally, it takes a week to see the benefits. At first, some people may feel a little sleepy the next morning for a few days but this side effect will disappear with time. Note: people with auto immune diseases cannot use melatonin because it may increase their inflammation and worsen symptoms.
Magnesium and Calcium: Take Magnesium 400mg and/ or Calcium 600mg with Vitamin D 400IU one hour before bed. Magnesium helps to calm the mind and relax the body. Calcium helps the brain to produce melatonin that induces sleep. Research studies have shown that calcium and magnesium are effective natural sleep aids that help people fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Lack of these nutrients will cause people to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep.
GABA: take 250 to 500mg one hour before bed. GABA is a chemical in the brain, which blocks the brain signals. GABA supplement is used for relieving anxiety, improving mood, promoting muscle tone, decreasing body fat and stabilizing blood pressure.
Cordyceps: A potent modern version of an ancient Chinese secret, cordyceps is an intriguing substance that is gaining worldwide fame and recognition as an energy-enhancing, health-promoting tonic (source: swansonvitamin.com). Our clinical experience showed that cordyceps improves sleep just a few days after taking it. Cordyceps not only provide a powerful energy-enhancing health tonic but also help fall asleep easily and get enough deep sleep.
Cordyceps is now produced through modern culturing techniques that have finally made its amazing nutritional benefits available to the western world. It is certified free of yeast, mold and other harmful microbes (source: swansonvitamin.com). The price is reasonable and affordable.
Common side effects of cordyceps:1)Increased symptoms of autoimmune diseases. 2)Slow blood clotting and increased risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or during surgery. (Source:www.rxlist.com/consumer_cordyceps/drugs-condition.htm)
Chinese patented medicines: many combination herbal formulas help sleep very well such as An Shen Bu Xin Wan 安神补心丸，Tian Wang Bu Xin Wan 天王补心丸，Suan Zao Ren An Mian Wan 酸枣仁安眠丸. Try one of them to aid sleep and reduce anxiety.
Aromatherapy: Try using pure essential oil and topical mist to make a tranquil, resting and calming surrounding for sleep. One may try Nature’s Truth Sleep Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blend Mist Spray--Target.
Sleep before 11 pm: It is very important to try to fall asleep before 11 pm. Western medicine thinks that the human immune system recovers during the midnight hours. Chinese medicine believes that the human biological schedule should follow natural law. Before midnight the sundown energy is dominant, after midnight the sunrise energy will take over in the body, therefore, people may have difficulty falling asleep after 12 am.
Try setting the curfew: Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. All of this is true for kids and adults alike. It’s important to initiate a digital curfew for the entire family, a time at which you and your kids turn off all electronic devices for the night. Try setting the curfew at 1-2 hours before bed, the earlier in the evening, the better. One good substitution is reading. Reading an old-fashioned, printed book under lamplight (as opposed to bright overhead lighting) is a great choice. (Source: National Sleep Foundation)
If you can't fall asleep after 20 to 30 minutes in bed, get up and try something different. Continuing your attempt to fall asleep is simply wasting time. At this moment, get up and out of your bedroom to read a relaxed book or listen a slow music until you feel very sleepy and go to bed. If you still can't fall asleep, repeat this process 20 to 30 minutes later, be sure to get out of bed again. Keep doing this for over 4 weeks and you'll see your sleep gradually improve.
Exposure to sunlight: if your body, face and eyes are exposed to sunlight your body will produce more serotonin which is a neurotransmitter regulating mood and sleep. Serotonin is also a precursor to a brain hormone melatonin that helps sleep. In another word to get enough sun exposure, you will get good sleep and happiness.
Sleepy-time snacks:The best sleep-inducing foods include a combination of protein and carbohydrates such as a light snack of half a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or a whole wheat cracker with an egg white. Eat one of these snacks 30 minutes before bedtime.
Warm milk: is the grandmother’s natural insomnia remedy before bed. Almond milk is an excellent source of calcium, which helps the brain make melatonin to promote falling asleep.
Meditation: some research suggests that regularly practicing meditation may help improve with sleep. It also has other positive health effects, such as reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. Qi Gong is a good option as a meditation.
Taichi and Yoga: the routinely practice of Taichi or yoga can help improve the quality of sleep. Be sure to start slow and work with an instructor who listens to you and helps adapt poses to your needs and limitations.
Acupuncture and Ping’s meridian massage: reduce stress, relax muscles and improve sleep. Treatment takes about 1 hour. To achieve the best results for our patients, we do not only give a standard acupuncture treatment just with needles, but we also give Ping’s meridian massage (Dr. Lu’s own techniques) prior to acupuncture. While acupuncture focuses on deep, specific acupuncture points, the unique massage helps reach a much wider surface area, allowing blood and energy to flow freely like a river. When both techniques are used together, the results are more effective than single one.
For more information call Dr. Lu at (661) 513-9265, Ping’s Acupuncture / Bamboo Acupuncture.