Dream disturbed sleep according to Chinese Medicine

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Dream disturbed sleep can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like dream disturbed sleep here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here dream disturbed sleep is often associated with insomnia, dizziness and palpitations in the pattern “Heart Blood Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause dream disturbed sleep.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of dream disturbed sleep we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat dream disturbed sleep.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dream disturbed sleep

In Chinese Medicine dream disturbed sleep is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) and it causes insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory, dizziness and tendency to be scared. It can be caused by Deficient Spleen Qi that fails to produce Blood, long-term anxiety and worry, a severe blood loss and excessive workload.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Heart Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Postpartum Depression.

Heart Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Heart Blood Deficiency here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This is a type of empty Fire pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, but with extra signs of Dryness and Yin-Deficient Heat. It can be caused by excessive activity, overwork, 'burning the candle at both ends' without sufficient rest, and poor and irregular diet.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Liver Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and blurred vision.

Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Qi Ju Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Yin Deficiency here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include insomnia, dizziness and poor memory.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

The Heart can receive sufficient Blood from the Spleen, if the latter's transformation and transportation function work properly, providing sufficient nutrients for growth and development. In turn, Heart Blood circulates and supplies the Spleen with nutrients to better perform its functions.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Heart and Spleen Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Heart and Spleen Deficiency is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Heart and Spleen Deficiency here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

This pattern developed from Heart Blood Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as the latter one, such as insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, easily to be scared, poor memory and anxiety, but it also has additional empty Heat symptoms. It can be caused by Kidney Yin Deficiency or other factors such as bad diet, overwork or long term exposure to stress or hot environment.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Heart Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation or Postpartum Depression.

Heart Yin Deficiency is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Heart Yin Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dream disturbed sleep

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Blood Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yin Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and blurred vision.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include insomnia, dizziness and poor memory.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart And Spleen Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Why might Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Yin Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dream disturbed sleep

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Qi Ju Di Huang Wan or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Qi Ju Di Huang Wan or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

Other symptoms often associated with dream disturbed sleep

Insomnia Dizziness Palpitations Anxiety Poor memory Blurred vision Dry mouth Night sweats Tinnitus Pale face