Why Can't I Sleep Well?

There are many possible causes for your insomnia. The physiology of insomnia according to Eastern Medicine can be complex, but the simplest explanation is that good sleep requires two factors: proper transition of Yang and Yin energy with the change from day to night, and proper functioning of your blood to house your Spirit.


The Yang energy circulates through the Yang areas of your body during the day keeping your mind active. At night, this Yang energy should return to the Yin areas of your body, deeper and lower in your body. If the Yang energy stays in the Yang areas of your brain and eyes, these parts will continue to be energized and prevent you from falling asleep leading to insomnia.


In Easternl Medicine physiology, your Blood is the residence of the Spirit, or Shen. If the Blood cannot support the Shen at night, the Shen wanders upwards in your mind causing insomnia. The Blood is produced by the Spleen and stored by the Liver. If either of these organs is in disharmony, the quality of the Blood will be weak, and unable to house the Shen.

Insomnia Causes

There are many possible causes of insomnia. Sometimes there is one main cause, but often several factors interacting together

Psychological Causes

  • Anxiety: a condition in which individuals feel increased tension, apprehension, and feelings of helplessness, fear, worry, and uncertainty. This may be due to the effects that other people at work have on us, financial worries, concerns over relationships outside work or numerous other causes
  • Stress: emotional, physical, social, economic, or other factor that requires a response or change
  • Depression: a mood disturbance characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement

Physical Causes

  • Hormonal changes in women: These include premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Decreased melatonin: The levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps control sleep, decrease as a person ages. By age 60, the body produces very little melatonin
  • Medical conditions: These include allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Pain: Pain and discomfort from a medical illness or injury often interfere with sleep

How Can Acupuncture Help Insomnia?

Let’s first look at the possible types of insomnia treated by acupuncture, and understand why they occur. Knowing what type of insomnia you are experiencing can help your Acupuncturist provide the most effective treatment for you.


  • Difficultly falling asleep: Not enough Blood due to either Spleen or Liver deficiency causing insomnia
  • Wake up often during the night: Internal heat is stuck in the body causing insomnia
  • Wake up early and can’t go back to sleep: Poor lifestyle may have damaged your Kidney Yin energy. Heat from Kidney Deficiency is rising up causing insomnia
  • Excessive dreaming during sleep: The brain doesn’t quiet down and it is difficult to relax due to Liver deficiency Heat or Heart Fire causing insomnia


When you receive an acupuncture treatment, your nervous system begins to calm down. The acupuncture needles are doing deep work by unraveling your subconscious stresses, balancing your Qi, and releasing the causes of your insomnia. You may even fall asleep on the treatment table.


Insomnia is one of the top reasons people seek acupuncturists. Often, patients come to us reporting insomnia because they are disconnected from other emotional issues they are facing. These repressed emotions can often surface as insomnia, anxiety, or mild depression. As the stresses of modern life take their toll, our minds can no longer relax and our sleep becomes disturbed.


Western medicine has very little to offer patients in the way of relief. Antidepressant medications can help, but for people who are hesitant about living on drugs, then acupuncture is the way to go. Acupuncture has an extremely calming effect on the nervous system, and over time, it can help to correct the imbalances causing insomnia without creating side effects.