Nightmaresaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Sleep Disturbances

Did you mean? Vivid Dreaming Night Terrors

What are Nightmares?

Nightmares are distressing dreams that elicit fear, anxiety, or sadness. They often awaken the dreamer, leading to sleep disturbances and affecting the quality of rest. Typically occurring during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, nightmares can be influenced by a range of factors, including stress, trauma, sleep deprivation, medications, or underlying health conditions. While they are more common in children, adults can also experience them. Persistent nightmares can significantly impact an individual’s well-being and might require professional attention.

How does TCM view Nightmares?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views nightmares through a holistic lens, contrasting with the Western focus on psychological factors. In TCM, nightmares are often seen as manifestations of internal imbalances or disharmonies in the body's energy system.

These imbalances might involve disrupted Qi (vital energy), disharmony in organ systems, or imbalances between Yin and Yang. TCM practitioners emphasize diagnosing the underlying pattern causing the nightmares, such as Liver Fire or Heart Fire, and treat them by restoring balance and harmony within the body, rather than focusing solely on the symptom.

Acupoints for Nightmares

In TCM, specific acupoints are used to address the underlying causes of nightmares, based on the identified patterns of disharmony. One recommended point is Shangqiu SP-5 on the Spleen Channel. Located near the medial malleolus, this point is known for removing obstructions from the channel, tonifying the Spleen, benefiting the sinews and bones, and calming the mind, making it effective for addressing issues related to Spleen imbalances.

Another significant point is Zhaohai KID-6 on the Kidney Channel. Found below the medial malleolus, it nourishes the Kidney Yin, clears Empty-Heat, and calms the mind. Additionally, Zuqiaoyin GB-44 on the Gall Bladder Channel, located on the lateral side of the 4th toe, is utilized for its effectiveness in calming the mind and addressing imbalances in the Gall Bladder Channel. These acupoints are integral in TCM treatment strategies, aiming to restore internal balance and alleviate nightmares.

Explore below some acupoints used to address nightmares, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Spleen Channel
  • Kidney Channel
  • Gall Bladder Channel
Shangqiu SP-5

Shangqiu SP-5

In the depression distal and inferior to the medial malleolus, midway between the navicular bone tubercle and the tip of the medial malleolus.

Zhaohai KID-6

Zhaohai KID-6

Approximately 1 cun below the medial malleolus tip, over the joint space between the talus and the calcaneus.

Zuqiaoyin GB-44

Zuqiaoyin GB-44

On the lateral side of the 4th toe, about 0.1 cun posterior to the corner of the nail.