The Importance Of Sleep For Adults & Children
Posted by Genevieve Boyer
In Traditional Oriental Medicine, we consider lack of restful sleep to be a priority symptom. If someone isn’t sleeping well, then it is a priority to help them get the good quality sleep that they need, because getting enough sleep, in turn, is going to help resolve some of their other health complaints. And I’m not only referring to difficulty falling asleep, but also to difficulty staying asleep and to excessive dreaming that disrupts sleep quality. Not only does insufficient sleep make us grumpy and impair our judgment, concentration and memory, but consistently poor sleep quality can also contribute to weight gain, adrenal fatigue and the development of blood sugar imbalances and heart disease.
So sleep is important. And the demands of early parenting increase our sleep requirements, but getting enough sleep is easier said than done, and this is true for both adults and kids. My own son didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he was three and a half years old, so I personally know how difficult it is to function with day after day of poor sleep quality. If I knew then what I know now, in terms of Shonishin (needle-free meridian treatment for children) and gentle pediatric acupuncture techniques, I probably could have saved both my son and I from at least some sleepless nights and grumpy days.
Just like there can be many different causes of adult insomnia, there can be many different reasons why children don’t sleep through the night even when they should be able to developmentally. It is normal for children to occasionally have poor sleep when they are uncomfortable because of illness (stuffed up nose, irritating cough, etc.), and babies typically don’t start to sleep for longer than six hours in a stretch until three to nine months old. But when toddlers and older children are consistently getting poor sleep then there may be some underlying pattern of disharmony that needs to be addressed. In Oriental Medicine, there are several patterns of disharmony that can be responsible for sleep difficulties, and all except the most stubborn cases can typically be addressed with a course of acupuncture or Shonishin treatments (and occasionally herbs and diet or lifestyle changes are indicated as well).
Parents regularly tell me how much better their children sleep for days or weeks after getting a Shonishin or acupuncture treatment, even when sleep isn’t the concern the child is coming in for, and adults report the same benefits from acupuncture treatment as well. Improved sleep quality is a well-recognized benefit of acupuncture. So don’t suffer with poor sleep quality—come in for a treatment and feel the difference it makes to your overall health!