I want to focus here on Japanese acupuncture for insomnia – a condition I believe is in epidemic proportions in the 21st Century.
So many people come into my acupuncture practice and they don’t mention the fact when they first come in that they suffer from insomnia. They might have lower back pain or headaches or anxiety – all of that comes out first. Then they mention, “Oh I do have some significant sleeping problems – it is hard to get to sleep, it’s hard to stay asleep and I wake up in the early hours of the morning”.
A lot of this problem can be put down to the fact that we spend an enormous amount of time in front of computer screens. A lot of it is the fact that we are physically inactive – we are not getting physically exhausted, yet we are mentally exhausted.
It is not that common that I come across people who are physically exhausted who have problems getting to sleep. There are exceptions and certainly when I was working with the Brisbane Lions football team, there were certain players in that team that would be both physically and mentally exhausted and would suffer from insomnia directly after the game.
On the whole, we are suffering from mental exhaustion – it is due to the pressure we are experiencing in the 21st Century. It is an information overload – we have to filter the information. I, too, will wake early and sometimes I will have a great deal of difficulty turning my mind off so I can go back to sleep again and gain a good night’s rest.
One particular gentleman whom I have treated lately came to my clinic for acupuncture treatment. He is a retired teacher. Whether the cause was cumulative stress or underlying lifestyle factors, the reality was that he came into my acupuncture clinic suffering from chronic migraine headaches, chronic stiff neck and chronic anxiety…and chronic insomnia.
It is incredibly rewarding, as an acupuncture practitioner, to work with my patients. I just see the most amazing people. And this particular gentleman, the former teacher, was and is still, in fact, a gentleman. He remains in a state of sublime shock at the positive change in his condition. He no longer has blood noses – he would get blood noses on numerous occasions in a day. He was suffering from migraine headaches multiple times per week. He was very concerned about his ability to drive in traffic because of the difficulty of turning his head. Almost without mentioning it, he was suffering from a really debilitating case of insomnia.
It is a privilege to work with a medicine where we are not actually adding any herb or mineral or chemical. We are actually working with what is already in the environment of the body. It is almost like an environmental medicine. We nourish the areas that are undernourished and we draw energy from the areas where there is too much energy. For example, in insomnia the excess energy is in the head and the upper part of the body and we do our best to bring that energy down and use it beneficially for the digestive process. In this way, people are getting more nutrition from their food and the nutrition and vitality is moving through the body.
This is the amazing aspect of Japanese acupuncture. I continue each and every day as I practice acupuncture to be in wonder. it is extraordinary in the fact that it is three and a half thousand years old and that they were treating people with insomnia that long ago. And that we are still using the same basic acupuncture methodology, albeit with more refined tools and in a far more genteel manner. It is extraordinary and it is a great privilege to help people suffering from insomnia through the methodology of Japanese acupuncture.