Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide, causing a range of symptoms that impair daily functioning and overall well-being. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on the root causes of insomnia and provides various treatment options to address the underlying imbalances. In this article, we will explore Chinese medicine's approach to treating insomnia and discuss specific remedies for various types of sleeplessness.

  1. Heart-Spleen Deficiency

Symptoms: Abdominal swelling, discharge of watery, thin stools, eating very little, fatigue, forgetfulness, impotence, many dreams, nervous spirits, nervousness, night sweats, palpitations, poor appetite, shortness of breath, sleeplessness and wake up easily, withering and yellowish complexion.

Treatment: To tone the heart and the spleen and to secure the heart and calm the spirits, Gui-Pi-Tang or Yang-Xin-Tang can be used. Beneficial foods include beef liver, chicken egg, cuttlefish, oyster, pork liver, sea cucumber, water spinach, longan nut, mandarin fish, apple cucumber, chestnut, horse bean, Job's-tears, Irish potato, rice, royal jelly, and yam.

  1. Heart-Kidneys Unable to Communicate with Each Other

Symptoms: Deafness, dizziness, face becomes red when fatigued or working hard, feeling miserable, forgetfulness, light but periodic fever not unlike the tide, nervousness, night sweats, palpitations, ringing in ears, seminal emission, sleeplessness due to stress or depression, sleeplessness with forgetfulness.

Treatment: To water yin and clear fire and to promote communication between the heart and the kidneys, Huang-Lian-E-Jiao-Tang can be used. Beneficial foods include asparagus, abalone, chicken, white fungus, bog bean, wheat, banana, bamboo shoot, bitter endive, oyster, royal jelly, and pork.

  1. Heart-Gallbladder Deficiency

Symptoms: Bitter taste in the mouth, depressed with a desire to vomit, feeling miserable with love of darkness and dislike of light, insomnia due to nervousness, scared by events easily, wake up at night easily due to shock.

Treatment: To strengthen energy, overcome nervousness, and secure the spirits, An-Shen-Ding-Zhi-Wan can be used. Beneficial foods include corn silk, cow's gallbladder, air bladder of shark, water spinach, abalone, asparagus, dried ginger, and cinnamon.

  1. Sputum-Fire

Symptoms: Difficult defecation or urination, hungry with no appetite, insanity, ringing in ears and deafness, sleeplessness due to congested chest.

Treatment: To transform sputum and harmonize the middle region, Wen-Dan-Tang can be used. Beneficial foods include salt, cattail, agar, radish, bamboo shoot, crown daisy, date, fresh ginger, leaf or brown mustard, black and white pepper, white or yellow mustard seed, asparagus, and pear.

  1. Indigestion

Symptoms: Abdominal pain, abdominal pain with a desire for massage, abdominal pain with an aversion to massage, abdominal distension, belching of bad breath after meals, chest and diaphragm congestion and discomfort, diarrhea and constipation, hot sensations in the middle of palms, indigestion, lack of appetite, love of hot drink but drink very little, nausea, pain in inner part of stomach with swelling and feeling of fullness, stomachache, stools with an extremely bad smell, vomiting of clear water.

Treatment: To promote digestion and harmonize the middle region, Bao-He-Wan can be used. Beneficial foods include asafetida, buckwheat, castor bean, jellyfish, peach, radish, water chestnut, cardamon seed, cayenne pepper, coriander, grapefruit, jackfruit, malt, sweet basil, tea, and tomato.


Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a holistic and personalized approach to treating insomnia by addressing the root causes of sleeplessness. By identifying the specific imbalances within the body and employing targeted herbal remedies and dietary adjustments, TCM can help to restore balance, promote restful sleep, and improve overall well-being.

It is important to consult a qualified TCM practitioner to ensure proper diagnosis and receive appropriate guidance on herbal remedies and dietary changes. Integrating these ancient Chinese practices with modern Western medical treatments can provide a comprehensive and effective approach to combating insomnia and improving sleep quality for a healthier, more balanced life.