In our society, we put a premium on our waking hours and have the tendency to underestimate the importance of a full night's sleep. Millions of people who suffer from insomnia look for quick fixes instead of exploring the root causes of the problem. Sleep hygiene is an afterthought for many people. Evening is a time to allow our minds and bodies to turn inward to our subconscious. Sleep deprivation is the root of many health issues like memory impairment, a weakened immune system, and stress that can lead to cardiac disease, heart disease, and digestive disorders.
Exposure to the diminishing light at dusk helps regulate sleep hormones in the body. Excessive lighting at night, evening shift work, evening computing, video games, television and late-night eating all serve to counteract the body’s natural rhythms. It’s no wonder people have trouble sleeping. Rather than embrace nighttime as rest time, we tend to let our minds wander from one element of stress to another keeping us up for hours or perhaps an entire evening. We are then forced to approach the new day without having benefited from the regenerative powers that night time brings.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sleep occurs when the yang energy of the day folds into the yin energy of nighttime. Yin energy of the body is cooling and restorative. It is the time of day when our bodies turn inward and regenerate. This is the time we dream and explore the caverns of our unconscious mind. Conversely, daytime is yang, which is expansive. We expend the energy we have built up from the process of sleeping. Together, this is the cycle of yin and yang.
To apply this yin-yang concept to your everyday life try eating your last meal at least three hours before going to bed. For example, you can “cool” your yang energy down by avoiding hot and spicy food and drink. Avoid alcohol, coffee, chocolate and any other stimulants, especially late in the day.
To improve your sleep cycles, help circulate your body’s energy by working out or by gentle exercising. Build your body’s nutritive aspect by eating marrow-based soups and stews, dark pigmented vegetables and fruits. Avoid overworking or over rumination as well.
An invaluable tool to help your brain unwind is meditation. It helps the body create a sense of calm. Meditation can reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, and improve overall health. It can help one increase alertness, relaxation and reflection even in “waking” states. Meditation is best practiced during the day to help improve your sleep patterns at night.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is far more than just being tired. It is a frustrating, complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that may worsen with physical or mental activity and does not improve with rest. Those affected with CFS can get so run down that it interferes with the ability to function in day to day activities with some becoming severely disabled and even bedridden. In addition to extreme fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome encompasses a wide range of other symptoms, including but not limited to, headaches, flu-like symptoms and chronic pain.
If you suffer from CFS, Oriental medicine can help relieve many of your symptoms. Exceptional for relieving aches and pains, acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments can help you avoid getting sick as often, and recover more quickly, as well as improve your vitality and stamina.
A study in China evaluated cupping as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. All of the study patients complained of fatigue and some had additional problems with headaches, insomnia, muscle-joint pains, backaches and pains, poor memory, gastrointestinal disturbances, and bitter taste in their mouth, among others. Patients ranging in age from 28-54 received sliding cupping treatments twice a week for a total of 12 treatments. The results showed there was vast improvement in fatigue levels, insomnia, poor memory, spontaneous sweating, sore throat, profuse dreams, poor intake, abdominal distention, diarrhea, and alternating constipation and diarrhea.
In another study conducted at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of TCM in Guangzhou, China, subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome were evenly divided by random selection into an acupuncture group and a control group. The observation group was treated with acupuncture and the control group was treated with an injection. Participants completed a fatigue scale and results showed that people who received acupuncture reported significantly more relief from their symptoms. A similar study conducted in Hong Kong gave half of the group conventional needle acupuncture and half (the control group) sham acupuncture. Again, using a fatigue scale, improvements in physical and mental fatigue were significantly bigger in the acupuncture group and no adverse events occurred.
Most significantly, 28 papers were statistically reviewed through a meta analysis in order to assess the success of acupuncture as a therapy for CFS. The results showed that treatment groups receiving acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome had superior results when compared with control groups. Rightly, they concluded that acupuncture therapy is effective for chronic fatigue syndrome and that it does merit additional research.
If you are struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome call today to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be incorporated into your treatment plan!
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