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Chinese Medicine for Insomnia and Sleep disorders



Sleep is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. It plays a vital role in various aspects of our physical and mental functioning. Kampo Health is a leading provider of Chinese medicine in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to improving your health and quality of life with ancient natural medicine and therapies. Our experienced acupuncturists and herbalists have helped our patients with insomnia to get sound sleep and better life.


6 Reasons why you should fix your Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep despite having the opportunity for adequate sleep. It can have various causes, including stress, anxiety, medical conditions, medications, lifestyle factors, or underlying sleep disorders. Insomnia can have significant consequences on both physical and mental well-being. Here are some of its potential consequences that you may want to know:

  1. Daytime fatigue and sleepiness: Insomnia often leads to insufficient sleep, resulting in daytime fatigue, sleepiness, and reduced alertness. This can impair cognitive function, attention, and memory, making it more challenging to perform daily tasks effectively.
  2. Impaired concentration and performance: Insomnia can affect attention, concentration, and overall cognitive performance. It may lead to difficulties with focus, brain fog, problem-solving, decision-making, and learning new information. This can impact academic or work performance and increase the risk of accidents or errors.
  3. Mood disturbances: Lack of sleep can significantly impact mood regulation, leading to increased irritability, mood swings, and emotional instability. Insomnia is associated with an increased risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders.
  4. Reduced immune function: Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Insufficient sleep can weaken the immune response, making individuals more susceptible to infections, slower recovery from illness, and potentially increasing the risk of chronic health conditions.
  5. Increased risk of accidents: Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia can impair coordination, reaction time, and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents, both on the road and in other areas of daily life. It can also contribute to workplace accidents or errors.
  6. Negative impact on physical and mental health: Chronic insomnia has been linked to various physical health problems, including fibromyalgia, hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and an increased risk of mortality.

There is evidence to suggest that chronic insomnia, especially when accompanied by sleep-disordered breathing, may be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Several studies have found associations between sleep disturbances and an increased risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and AD. For instance, a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology in 2017 found that individuals with self-reported sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep, had an increased risk of developing dementia over a 10-year follow-up period.

In short, get your sleep together before it is too late!


Why choose acupuncture over pills?

Studies show that sleeping pills aren’t that helpful in promoting a good night’s rest. These drugs may be able to knock you off faster but do very little to the QUALITY of your sleep, “Some hypnotic drugs can actually restrict the deeper brain waves produced during REM sleep, leading to grogginess and forgetfulness the following morning. Feeling sluggish the next day might lead people to consume more caffeine, making sleep difficult and perpetuating the cycle.

In addition, many people are concerned about the side effects of long-termly taking sleep pills and start to seek alternative solutions for their insomnia.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used by Chinese Medicine to treat sleeping disorders, including insomnia for thousands of years. More and more people are going to their acupuncturists to help their sleep quality. It is a safe alternative option to sleep aids medications.

How can TCM Acupuncture improve your sleep quality?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. It is believed to help restore the balance of energy flow, known as Qi, and promote overall health and well-being. When it comes to insomnia, acupuncture is thought to provide several potential benefits:

  • Regulation of the nervous system: Acupuncture may help regulate the autonomic nervous system, which plays a role in sleep-wake cycles. By stimulating specific acupuncture points, it is believed to help calm the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) response and promote the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) response, leading to relaxation and improved sleep.
  • Reduction of stress and anxiety: Insomnia is often linked to stress, anxiety, and an overactive mind. Acupuncture has been suggested to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects and may help reduce stress levels. By targeting specific points, acupuncture may help induce a sense of calm and relaxation, aiding in sleep initiation and maintenance.
  • Promotion of melatonin production: Melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may influence the production and release of melatonin, potentially helping to establish a more regular sleep pattern.
  • Pain relief: Chronic pain conditions can disrupt sleep and contribute to insomnia. Acupuncture is known for its analgesic (pain-relieving) effects and may help reduce pain levels, allowing for better sleep quality and duration.
  • Improvement of sleep quality: Acupuncture has been reported to enhance sleep quality by promoting deeper, more restful sleep. It may help regulate sleep architecture, including the different stages of sleep, leading to a more rejuvenating sleep experience.

It’s important to note that the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture for insomnia is mixed, with some studies suggesting positive effects while others show limited or no significant benefits. This mixed result may be due to various individual responses to acupuncture, as well as the difference in the skills and experiences of acupuncturists.


How many acupuncture sessions do I need for insomnia?

The number of acupuncture sessions needed to address insomnia can vary depending on various factors, including the severity and duration of your insomnia, your overall health, and how your body responds to acupuncture. It’s important to keep in mind that acupuncture is typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include other interventions and lifestyle modifications.

In general, for addressing insomnia, acupuncturists often recommend an initial series of weekly or bi-weekly sessions. The total number of sessions needed can vary, but it’s common to start with 5-10 sessions to assess your response and make adjustments as necessary. Acupuncture is a CUMULATIVE therapy, meaning that the effects tend to build up over time.

It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that individual responses to acupuncture can vary. Some individuals may experience noticeable improvements after a few sessions, while others may require more treatments for significant changes to occur. Regular communication with your acupuncturist about your progress and any changes in your symptoms is crucial for optimizing the treatment approach.

Remember that acupuncture in Toronto, Canada is just one component of a comprehensive approach to addressing insomnia. Your acupuncturist may also recommend lifestyle modifications, sleep hygiene practices, stress management techniques, and other at-home practices to support your sleep health.

It’s advisable to consult with a licensed acupuncturist who has experience in treating sleep disorders and insomnia. They can assess your specific situation, provide personalized recommendations, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Book an appointment with our licensed acupuncturist for your sleep health!


5 acupuncture points you can use for insomnia

In principle, Chinese medicine is an individual-based medicine system, so there is no insomnia point or a sleeping herb for everyone. Acupuncture points used for insomnia can vary depending on the individual’s specific symptoms and underlying imbalances. Your acupuncturists at Kampo Health Toronto consider various factors, such as the pattern of disharmony in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms, to determine the appropriate points for each person. However, here are some commonly used acupuncture points that may be helpful for insomnia:

  1. Anmian (Extra Point): Located behind the ear, this point is often used for calming the mind, promoting relaxation, and treating insomnia.
  2. Yin Tang (Extra Point): Located on the forehead, between the eyebrows, this point is often used for calming the mind, relieving stress, and promoting relaxation.
  3. Baihui (DU20): Located on the top of the head, in the midline, this point is commonly used to tonify the energy of the body and harmonize the mind. It is thought to help calm the mind and promote better sleep.
  4. Taichong (LV3): This point is located on the foot, in the depression between the first and second metatarsal bones. It is often used to regulate liver qi and help address symptoms of insomnia, irritability, and stress.
  5. Shenmen (HT7): This point is located on the wrist, in the depression on the ulnar side of the wrist crease. It is known for its calming and soothing effects, helping to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. However, in practice, needling this point can be sensitive, even painful to the patients due to its location, therefore personally I tend to use other points such as Bei Shu Xue between the shoulder blades that have similar effects on the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system or “calming the heart/mind” in TCM term.

These points are just a few examples, and the selection of acupuncture points will depend on the individualized assessment by a qualified acupuncturist. They will consider your specific symptoms, TCM diagnosis, and overall health to determine the most appropriate points for your insomnia treatment.


8 steps to conquer insomnia: What to do at home for a sound sleep?

There are several steps you can take at home to promote better sleep and improve the quality of your sleep. Here are some strategies you can try:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes a more consistent sleep pattern.
  2. Practice good sleep hygiene: Establish a pre-bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This could include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, practicing relaxation exercises, or listening to calming music. Avoid stimulating activities, bright screens (phones, tablets, TVs), and heavy meals close to bedtime.
  3. Limit exposure to blue light: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with sleep. Avoid using screens for at least an hour before bed, or consider using blue light-blocking glasses or enabling the “night mode” setting on your devices.
  4. Create a comfortable sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Ensure your bed, pillows, and bedding are comfortable and supportive. Experiment with different sleep positions or use additional pillows to find the most comfortable setup for you.
  5. Engage in regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help promote better sleep. However, try to avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it can be stimulating. Aim for moderate-intensity exercise earlier in the day, and incorporate relaxation exercises like yoga or stretching into your bedtime routine.
  6. Manage stress: Stress and anxiety can interfere with sleep. Implement stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, or engaging in calming activities that help you relax and unwind before bed.
  7. Limit caffeine and stimulants: Avoid consuming caffeine or other stimulants (like nicotine) close to bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep. Opt for herbal teas or decaffeinated options instead.
  8. Avoid napping late in the day: If you struggle with nighttime sleep, try to avoid napping late in the day, as it can disrupt your sleep cycle. If you need to nap, keep it short (around 20-30 minutes) and try to do it earlier in the day.

You can practice these steps on their own, or use them as a powerful assistant while you are receiving Chinese medicine acupuncture treatment for your insomnia. Remember, having a good sleep every night is a life-long mission and takes effort and discipline to achieve, just like any other meaningful thing in life.

Can Chinese Medicine treat other sleep disorders?

Yes, Chinese medicine, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, and moxibustion, has been utilized to treat not only insomnia but many other sleep disorders such as excessive sleepiness, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, etc. Chinese Medicine treatment is focused on the underlying imbalances in the body and organs that can lead to sleep disorders and mental dysfunctions. The common patterns that Chinese Medicine recognizes are Heart-Kidney disharmony, Liver Qi stagnation, Heat in the Heart, etc. In modern languages, these are dysfunctions in the autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and out-of-control inflammation in the brain/nervous system. For each individual, Chinese Medicine practitioners can assess the underlying factors and create personalized treatment plans to best help the patients.

Book your appointment with a Chinese medicine acupuncturist in Toronto

If you are experiencing symptoms of insomnia and its consequences, as well as a weak immune system in Canada, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or a sleep specialist. They can help identify the underlying causes, provide appropriate treatment options, and develop a tailored plan to improve your sleep quality and overall well-being. Don’t let insomnia affect your life any longer – take the first step toward better sleep by seeking expert guidance.

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