There are many causes of insomnia both from a western medical perspective and Chinese medicine perspective. Many patients who have never had a history of insomnia find they suddenly develop the problem around menopause and others who have had a history of insomnia find that the problem becomes more severe.
Why does insomnia come about at menopause from a Western medical perspective?
Modern medicine has the view that waking in the night from menopause is due to vasomotor problems causing heat flashes and night sweats. This is because the hormonal fluctuations play havoc with regulating temperature control and blood pressure. People wake up because of the heat.
The author has the view that this may be part of the picture but it doesn’t explain why many women have insomnia at menopause without symptoms of heat or night sweats.
How does Chinese medicine view insomnia at menopause?
Chinese medicine distinguishes different types of insomnia by seeing if the main problem is difficulty falling asleep or if the patient just wakes up in the middle of the night. Difficulty in falling asleep is mainly due to energy (qi) deficiency and waking up in the night is due to yin deficiency.
What is yin deficiency?
When the body is balanced there are relatively equal amounts of yin and yang in the body. Aging, menopause, a history of chronic disease and incorrect treatment are just some examples of how the yin could be become depleted. Yin is equated to the moon, night, stillness and water. If this yin becomes deficient, then a residue of yang will manifest itself as heat. In the case of insomnia, the excess of heat will disturb the mind and cause the person to wake up.
What acupuncture points may be used to treat insomnia and menopause?
The main issue is to treat the hormone imbalance and in Chinese medicine, this means to regulate yin and yang. For example, the acupuncture points known as the “Three Sisters” from the Master Tung system of acupuncture are used to treat all types of menstruation problems from irregular periods, infertility and menopause. These acupuncture points would address the root cause of the problem and then another acupuncture point such as yintang on the forehead would address the insomnia itself.
Who does Master Tung Style Acupuncture in New Zealand?
Heiko Lade, the author and director of The Acupuncture Clinic in Hastings as well as Kane Monrad of Connect Therapies in Hamilton exclusively use the Master Tung Style of Acupuncture.