SINGAPORE - How long a person lives is associated with his sleep patterns. The quality of sleep is more important than the number of hours clocked.
Some people may require just six hours of sleep to feel refreshed and energised, while others may need more.
If you are able to sleep once you lie in bed and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, you are getting high quality sleep. This is better for the health than any supplement or tonic.
But in recent years, there have been more complaints from people about rising stress levels, more work and not getting enough sleep.
Sleep problems are seen in people exposed to high mental stress for prolonged periods.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), such sleeping problems are due to qi (vital energy) deficiency in the heart and gall bladder, negative emotions and disturbance of yang in the liver, causing an imbalance of yin and yang.
Yang is the force responsible for excitement, while yin is the force responsible for calmness. As night falls and excitement wanes, the yang force will gradually combine with the yin, which allows the body to enter the sleep cycle.
When the yang does not combine with the yin smoothly, sleep will be disrupted. This may cause a night of frustrating tossing and turning, waking up at night and being unable to get back to sleep, or being unable to fall into a deep slumber for the entire night.
TCM offers a range of services that can help improve sleep.
Herbs and acupuncture are two methods used to remove factors which disturb the smoothness of the yang combining with the yin, thus achieving a balance in yin and yang for a good night's rest.
Herbs could be in the form of sachets that do not need brewing and can be customised to a person's symptoms and constitution.
For acupuncture services, patients lie down on a bed and acupoints on the four limbs and head are targeted. Such a service could last 30 minutes.
Taking some herbs after dinner can help you achieve better sleep.
For patients with severe sleep problems, this can be coupled with acupuncture to help alleviate the problem.
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