9 Surprising Mistakes Causing You To Sleep Worse, According To Chinese Medicine

Having trouble falling asleep is something that I've struggled off and of with for years. I can go through periods where I think my insomnia is gone, only to find it creep back in again. And it can be a distressing, frustrating experience. And while clean sleeping trends may seem all the rage, it's important to remember that sleeping tips and tricks aren't anything new — even the most traditional medicines have insights that can help you get a good night's sleep. If you're like me and not comfortable with constantly relying on sleeping pills, it can be helpful to look around for other solutions.

Sometimes there are answers in unexpected places. I don't find the idea of needles relaxing, but acupuncture has been linked to helping insomnia. "There are acupuncture points all around the body on the meridian lines that have different uses and effects," licensed acupuncturist Joel Granik tells Bustle. "Acupressure is good for alleviating minor symptoms that affect sleep," but don't be afraid to look further if it's not working. "It’s important to note that it does not solve or treat sleep issues completely."

If you want to know what more traditional medicine says about helping you get to sleep, here are some surprising mistakes you may not have realized you were making, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Reaching For Over The Counter Remedies

Because a lot of Chinese medicine suggests that insomnia is based in internal imbalances, the medicines you use to treat a lack of sleep might actually make you sleep worse. "[Traditional Chinese Medicine] treats insomnia with both acupuncture and herbal remedies," Kootenay Columbia College of Integrative Health Sciences writes. "Treatment will depend on what is the underlying cause of the insomnia."


Stimulants are, as the name suggests, terrible for your sleep. But although we often think of coffee, tea, and other caffeine-based treats to be the main source of the problem, Kootenay Columbia College of Integrative Health Sciences notes that cigarettes also fall into that category, so your fix might not help you sleep.

Not Taking Care Of Your Spirit

It's not just about a racing mind, it's about the spirit-heart connection. “Sleep is yin and ruled by the spirit," according to an ancient Chinese physician, Zhang Jing-Yue. "If the spirit is quiet there will be sleep. If the spirit is not quiet there is no sleep."

Ignoring Your Organs

You might not immediately look to your gall bladder when you're having trouble sleeping, but some Chinese medicine will points you in that direction. Different imbalances in your organs are linked to insomnia. "More specifically, the gall bladder meridian is often to blame for dream-disturbed sleep, manifesting in the form of nightmares or repetitive dreams," the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine suggests. "Patients who experience difficulty falling asleep typically have an imbalanced liver, while those who sleep too lightly often need to be treated for a heart and spleen deficiency." Who'd have thunk?

Not Dealing With Emotional Disappointment

How do those organs and meridians get upset in the first place? Well, don't ignore the emotional side of insomnia. Waking up between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. is linked to disappointment, while waking during the 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. slot is linked to anger.

Not Listening To A Higher Purpose

It's not always internal issues. Some Chinese medicine also suggests that waking up between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. is because a higher power is trying to alert you to something, so if you're not listening, then you might just keep waking up.

Missing The Optimum Bed Time

According to Chinese medicine, there is a right time to go to bed — and that's 10:30 p.m.. Before or after won't set you up for a perfect night, due to your Qi regeneration, which is thought to start at 11 p.m..

Wearing Shoes Too Often

It might be necessary, but it's not necessarily good for your sleep. Walking around barefoot is supposed to help naturally balance the body, so take off your shoes and socks when you're at home and see if it will set you up for a good night's sleep.

Drinking Very Cold Water

If you're like me, drinking water before bed makes you feel more hydrated and ready to go in the morning. But according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, your body has to work really hard to warm up cold water, so it's not a good idea to do in the evening if you're hoping to sleep soundly.

Falling asleep can feel like an uphill battle for some of us, so I'm always looking for new tips. If other methods haven't helped, why not try some more traditional solutions?