If you are having a difficult time sleeping, you are not alone. It is estimated that 80 million Americans suffer from insomnia.  It can affect every aspect of your life from your job and relationships to your competency behind the wheel of a car.   Some statistics say that more than 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes are caused annually in the United States by driving while drowsy.

Women need 8-9 hours of quality sleep per night, men need 7-8.  Sleep deprivation can have a deleterious affect.   Insomnia causes tiredness, lack of energy difficulty in concentrating and irritability. There is increased risk of depression, at work you are likely to have more work errors, slowed reaction time, poor work performance, you are likely to be disgruntled with other co-workers more easily, you become more impatient, and are more likely to have a work-place accident or auto accident.   Insomnia can cause changes in hormones, increase hunger, effect the body’s metabolism (making it more difficult to lose weight), accelerate aging, and increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Women are more susceptible – one survey says that 3 out of every 4 working mothers experience fatigue due to poor sleep.

Insomnia comes in several forms: Either inability to fall asleep or inability to stay asleep.  Also, it can be transient (just once in awhile due to travel, excitement or temporary stress); Short-term (lasting less than 3 weeks and usually due to worry or stress); Chronic (lasting more than 30 days and is either nightly or several times a week).

Chronic insomnia is generally due to a health condition.  Taking medications although they give the feeling of sleeping do not take care of the REASON WHY you can’t sleep.  The reasons why people can’t sleep are varied.  They can be caused by an imbalance in hormones, an imbalance in the way the body manages blood sugar, or you might have a health disease that effects sleep.   Restless leg syndrome, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, heart palpitations and hot flashes are common health conditions or symptoms effecting sleep.  Poor sleep also will contribute to obesity!

If one of these (or other conditions) prevent you from sleeping, you need to get the condition healed, not just medically managed.  The side effect of handling the condition responsible for limiting sleep is that not only will the condition be better, but the side effect will be of sleeping well!

I am amazed at how few people, who walk into my office for care, sleep well.  In fact, it always surprises me when I ask the question “how is your sleep”, and they say “good”.  We delve deeply.  I want to know WHY they aren’t sleeping.  What is the body telling us?  Insomnia is nothing more than a warning flag from your body telling you something is wrong.  There is something it needs that’s missing, or something it’s getting that is inhibiting function.  Until that is addressed, sleep deprivation will persist.

Until your blood sugar handling problems, such as hypoglycemia or cortisol imbalances are addressed, you will continue to have fatigue – not just insomnia-related, but lack of fuel to drive your energy machines-related as well.  If your hormones are imbalanced, not only will you be sleep deprived, but you will have other symptoms you don’t need to have as well.

There are many remedies other than medications to help you sleep.  Herbs are helpful, however, there too, you don’t want to use herbs to chase around the symptom – you still need to address the underlying cause.

One of the most effective remedies is the use of acupuncture.  Acupuncture has been used for centuries to resolve the issues underlying insomnia, and doing it quite effectively!  When patients are treated for different health conditions in my office, one of the first things they notice is that they sleep better.  Not because we are treating them for insomnia necessarily, but because we are treating the REASON WHY they have insomnia.  That’s the real success!

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience.  Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.  Visit Dr. Carling’s website at to learn more about Dr. Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles.  Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.