From wakefulness to deep sleep

Lital Ashkenazi, Chinese Medicine Therapist at the Complementary Medicine Rehabilitation Clinic, Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital


Sleep disorders are one of the most prevalent problems of the Western World. About 20-25% of the population report difficulties in falling asleep and other problems that detract from sleep quality.

Guidelines for good transition from wakefulness to sleep

Sleep disorders and their treatments have been known to Chinese physicians for more than 2000 years.

Chinese Medicine proposes several basic guidelines that can help us improve our capacity for deep sleep – from which we will wake up fresh and energized in the morning.

Sleep at night: According to Chinese Medicine, the yang energy (heat, motion, activity) is dominant during the day, while the yin energy (rest, cold, darkness) dominates the night. Therefore, in order to recharge our bodies effectively we must rest and sleep during the evening and night hours.

Artificial lights: When darkness falls outside you should dim the lights indoors, let go of screens. Strong, flickering artificial lighting (lamps, screens etc.) transmit contradicting signals of day and night to our brain, making it difficult for our body to prepare itself for the state of sleep.

Avoid ‘heavy’ food: Chinese Medicine claims that the organs responsible for digesting food are active during the morning and early afternoon. The night, on the other hand, is reserved for organs that calm the nervous system and prepare the body for the next day. Eating food that is hard to digest right before bedtime deprives these organs of the rest they need and is directly detrimental to the quality of sleep. Therefore it is advisable to have a relatively early dinner, and if anything is consumed later on, it should be light.

Treating sleep disorders with acupuncture and complementary medicine

Acupuncture is an effective way for treating sleep disorders, tending to focus on the source of the problem, and especially helpful when chronic pain is the issue. In addition, a 2010 review examined the effectiveness of complementary medicine treatments for insomnia, and found that disciplines like Tai Chi and yoga can also improve sleep. Through these practices the body learns to deal with stress and calm down, thereby improving sleep.


The information presented in this article is general. It does not constitute medical advice or replace consultation with a physician. It should not be regarded as a recommendation or an alternative for medical treatment.

 (image is for demonstration purposes unsplash)


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