I know I was one of those very annoying people who seem to care less about everything else so long as they could get some sleep even on a crowded mass transport system. But then, something’s changed. I developed a nasty habit of going to bed at about 12 midnight only to wake up at around 3 early in the morning. Going back to sleep was proving to be very impossible. And in those very rare instances when I was still able to get some shuteye after being awakened at 3, I would still manage to get up even before my alarm rings. I know I am now seeing the dreaded signs of insomnia. I knew I had to find a way of combating this.
I am at the peak of my game in the magazine I am working for. Like all insomniacs, I know sooner or later the effects of sleeplessness will manifest in my behavior especially in the way I interact with other people. Not getting enough sleep can make you cranky and temperamental about even mundane things. I could just imagine how hellish social relationships would be if the sleeplessness became chronic. I knew I simply have to find help. But where?
I was on replying to a post on a friend’s account when I came across the Facebook page of Freedom Chinese Medicine. I recalled one of our writers was given an assignment about acupuncture and its many health benefits. One of the benefits cited in the article was improved sleep. I looked up the business information of Freedom Chinese Medicine and saw that it was located between my work and my place. So I decided to drop by and learn more about TCM and acupuncture and whether it will be beneficial in the management of my insomnia. I called FCM and was able to speak with Elaine and scheduled an appointment with them; although I guess I could have just dropped in anytime.
Right after work that day, I dropped by Freedom to learn more about acupuncture. Elaine asked me about my sleeplessness including any associated problems like my mood, any pain, or any other physiologic complaint I have. When it came to the point where I described to her that I always end up waking at 3 in the morning, Elaine said that I might have a problem in my liver, heart, and spleen meridians. It turns out, TCM is based on the principles of chi, or life energy, that circulates in the body through 12 meridians. These meridians are like superhighways that connect internal organs and emotions. When a meridian is blocked, emotional or behavioral manifestations ensue. The heart meridian is connected to anxiety while the spleen is connected to worry. The liver meridian, as Elaine explained, is connected with stress and anger.
She then proceeded to explain that my job responsibilities, the stresses at work, and the increasing amount of uncertainties in work-related outcomes are what is producing my shen or my emotional energy to be out of sync. This is what is preventing me to sleep properly and waking me at 3 in the morning. And as I recall, every time I wake up at 3, the first thing I will do is look at my work schedule and already start planning for the day’s work. I never realized that it was already creating havoc in my life.
Elaine explained that acupuncture will help reestablish the connection in my meridians so that I will not feel so stressed out and begin to harmonize my shen. Elaine also told me that acupuncture has a cumulative effect so I will be requiring at least 6 acupuncture treatment sessions. Additionally, I have to stay away from coffee, sugar, and tobacco in order to replenish my feminine Yin energy. So, after that initial consultation, I decided to give it a try. I booked an appointment for my very first acupuncture session the following day.
The session proceeded perfectly. For quite sometime, I see needles as scary instruments especially in a hospital or clinic but acupuncture proved this wrong. The needles were very intimidating at first but the insertion was nothing more than a pinprick. Elaine did tell me that it will take a few sessions before I can notice any effects. Sure enough, after about 3 sessions, I still wake up at 3 in the morning but I find it a lot easier now to get right back to sleep. After 3 weeks, my early morning wake-up habits was significantly down to twice a week. Acupuncture has clearly helped me regain control of my life back.
Unfortunately, I will have to make a decision whether to give up on my passion and look for a less stressful job or to keep going and rely on TCM for the management of my problems. Like Elaine said, it is all about balancing life. If I love what I am doing, I will also have to find time to enjoy life. Otherwise, there will simply be no harmony in my life. And insomnia is just a manifestation of this imbalance.