On Sunday, March 10th, we turn our clocks forward one hour for daylight savings time. That means we must wake up one hour earlier to meet our same schedule. Until our bodies adjust, we feel as if we've lost an hour of sleep. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation designates the week before this time switch as "National Sleep Awareness Week."
Many people who have trouble falling asleep reach for over-the-counter or prescription drugs to help them feel drowsy. Yet if used more than just occasionally, such pills can be habit-forming or have side effects. That's why National University of Health Sciences urges natural drug-free alternatives, such as acupuncture and oriental medicine, for those having trouble sleeping.
"Many people don't think of acupuncture as a way to deal with their sleeping problems," says Dr. Hyundo Kim, chief clinician for acupuncture and oriental medicine at National University. "Yet actually, acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs can offer help for those with insomnia, especially in cases where other treatments may have failed."
Dr. Kim says that sleep is an important part of health and wellness. "Sleep experts say that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. If we don't get the sleep we need, it can affect our health and safety. Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity and high blood pressure, depression, decreased productivity, and safety risks at work and home, and behind the wheel."
"In oriental medicine, we recognize that there are different types of insomnia," says Dr. Kim. "There are those who have difficulty falling asleep, those who have trouble staying asleep, and cases where a person wakes up at the same time every night. Each patient is unique, so there is no one herb or one acupuncture point that will work for everyone. We treat each of these cases differently."
This is one reason why an oriental medicine practitioner will make a thorough diagnosis of each individual patient to detect the exact nature of the energy and organ system imbalance causing the sleep trouble. Once a diagnosis is made, acupuncture and special formulas containing traditional Chinese herbs are recommended based on the patient's unique health profile.
"One common traditional Chinese herbal remedy we recommend for many cases of sleep trouble is jujube seed tea," says Dr. Kim. "While the jujube is a dried fruit commonly found in Asian markets, the tea is made from the roasted and ground seed of the fruit."
"Our university clinic often treats many of our own graduate students who live on campus and might be having trouble sleeping during stressful examination times," says Dr. Kim. "They are often surprised at how well acupuncture and herbal medicine works."
For more information on acupuncture and oriental medicine, or to make an appointment to treat an existing sleep problem, call the NUHS Whole Health Center in Lombard at 630-629-9664.